Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono

A great, short read. Deals with the issue of colonialism in Africa, and the greatest and most tragic contradiction there is-young, educated, Christian black men and women struggling to be like their colonizers, the ones who turned their lives upside down and erased their culture - in this case, the French.
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A great, short read. Deals with the issue of colonialism in Africa, and the greatest and most tragic contradiction there is-young, educated, Christian black men and women struggling to be like their colonizers, the ones who turned their lives upside down and erased their culture - in this case, the French.

The story is in the format of a diary, told from the perspective of Toundi, a young Cameroonian who runs away from his abusive father in a tribal setting opting to grow up in the church around whites, abandoning his family and culture in hopes of making something else of his life.
Toundi’s story is ironic and tragic- he gives up his traditional identity and is drawn into the web of servitude, standing transfixed as his fate and ultimate demise approaches.
Toundi’s sensitive self-esteem and idealistic attitude about the Europeans begin to flake, when he begins to realize that he belongs not to the world of his village nor to the one of the whites, but is caught in the groundswell of those Africans whose fate became inextricably tied to that of the colonialists and the changing world.

Toundi inquires at the end of his life....”Brother, what are we? What are we blackmen who are called French?”

 

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