Friday, June 08, 2007

Poisonwood

Have returned from outdoor pursuits. It's the best part of my job, going away and having great craic with the kids rather than just being their teacher.

The time spent sitting in the corridor trying to get them to go to sleep enabled me to finish 'The Poisonwood Bible'- probably the best novel I have ever read (Douglas Coupland notwithstanding).

It is the story of an firebrand evangelical Baptist minister's who takes his family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. His determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is doomed by his self-righteousness and lack of cultural understanding.

It is a fictional account set during actual events in the Congo. The language is evocative and beautiful. Every page contains something you could meditate on.

A constant theme seems to be the relationship between America and Africa. America who has taken the African people as slaves, drained her of her riches, taken control of her diamond and copper mines and used ‘aid’ money to bribe her dictators. It educated and angered me to a much greater level.

“If chained is where you have been, your arms will always bear the marks of the shackles. What you have to lose is your own story, your own slant. You’ll look at the scars on your arms and see mere ugliness or you’ll take great care to look away from them and see nothing. Either way, you have no words for the story of where you came from…we are our injuries as much as we are our successes.”


I should have written more about Africa on this blog. I feel a soul-tie with the place and find it hard to write about it without getting angry and ranting and boring everyone.

My younger wiser brother, Davymull, has just started blogging. Check out his thoughts on Somalia.

3 comments:

EilĂ­s said...

write about africa, jmac. we need your righteous anger and ranting. we need to actually think about what has happened in our safe bubble that makes us not recognise that tthey are someones family as well and are struggling, starving, and dying. why don't we do more (i'm asking myself this as well cause i frustrate moi-meme).

Mimo said...

Sounds like a good book to read. It's your blog, you can write anything! =)

Jen said...

sounds good- i had a wee giggle at your description of the book, started looking at it as a teacher, (sad i know) it sounds a bit like a movie trailer, i can imagine the voice over. Keep ranting about Africa-who knows might rant about Tanzania myself.