Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nigeria, anthropology,the pull of water and recent reading

I've always loved anthropology- not sure why, perhaps it's related to my love for stories. That was how I first discovered anthropology, as a child going to the adult library and flipping open books on anthropology and finding that they told stories much like the fiction books I loved to read. I suspect that my interest in anthropolgy has been sharpened since coming to live in the UK- as an outsider looking in on a different culture- I am constantly fascinated by the rituals and activities that make up different cultures and how people understand and explain their behaviour within those contexts. I've also found now that when I go back to Nigeria, I sometimes look at my society through new and different eyes.Like one evening I was walking down a Lagos street I had lived on for years (before I moved to the UK) and I suddenly thought, what a magnificent sunset, and reached for my camera to capture it. And then I felt guilty- like a voyeur or tourist- I had walked down that street many times when I lived on it and had never noticed or particularly remarked on the sunset.....

I think contemporary Nigeria is great subject material for anthropologists- how for instance the same people who profess a rigid and unbending religious fundamentalism square it with their illicit sexual escapades, stealing government money, bending the rules, flamboyance and conspicuous consumption in the face of grinding poverty. I recently stumbled across this article by an American anthropologist married to a Nigerian http://www.righttodecide.org/downloads/download.php?doel=CultureHealthSexuality20045YouthsinsexNigeria.pdfwhich is the kind of thing I think about.

Walked up a cliff on Saturday with a friend and watched the sun set on the bay below. We wondered about human beings and beaches, and our attraction to them. I thought it was more to do with water- human beings are dran to large bodies of water-the sea, rivers, streams ,falls. Perhaps it's because we're 70 per cent water...............

I just finished (virtually simultaneously) two books - Ian McEwan's Saturday (for the second time) which was beautiful, haunting and eloquent and Clare Sambrook's Hide and Seek, an account of a child who disappears on a school trip recounted in the voice of his nine year old brother. A challenging task and I think it worked but I was somehow strangely underwhelmed by the story.

Next up on my reading list- the Granta Africa edition with stories and articles by Chimamanda Adichie (an excerpt from her forthcoming novel, Half of A Yellow Sun), Helon Habila, BinyavangaWainaina with his searing, witty How to Write About Africa http://www.granta.com/extracts/2615 , Moses Isegawa and Segun Afolabi among others


sokari said...

Hi - if you put your links in the following code they should come out as links without the url:


sokari said...

sorry the code got lost - if you email me at Africa@globalvoicesonline.org I will send you the code

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir please visit our anthropology forum www.quetzalcoatl.uni.cc .