So the Path Does Not Die
296 Pages
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So the Path Does Not Die


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296 Pages


Protagonist Fina�s search for happiness and belonging begins on the night of her aborted circumcision and continues through her teenage years in Freetown, Sierra Leone�s capital; her twenties in the Washington Metropolitan Area; and ends with her return to Sierra Leone to work as an advocate for war-traumatized children. The novel explores the problems she encounters in each setting against the backdrop of the tensions, ambiguities, and fragmentation of the stranger/immigrant condition and the characters� struggles to clarify their ideas about �home� and �abroad.� Fina�s circumcision gets significant, though not sensational, play in the different attitudes toward the practice between her and her fianc� Cammy, a Trinidadian urologist. The differences complicate their relationship at a time when skeletons from their pasts threaten their impending marriage. The stories of Fina�s friend, African-American Aman and her fianc�, Nigerian Bayo; of Edna (Fina�s foster sister) and her husband Kizzy; and of Mawaf, a war-traumatized teen, unfold in subplots that merge with the main plot and overarching theme of belonging as characters straddle �home� and �abroad� places.



Published by
Published 07 March 2012
Reads 5
EAN13 9789956727735
Language English
Document size 1 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0045€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.


So the Path Does Not Die Pede Hollist
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective ISBN: 9956-727-37-7 ©Pede Hollist 2012
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Dedication To the memory of my parents, Pede and Ruby, Snr. To Josephine Wife. Friend. Supporter. Thanks for enduring.
All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to any real persons, living or dead, is coincidental. For the title and some of the ethnographic ethos, I am indebted to Michael Jackson’s Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives.
Prologue ar away and long ago, there was a village in which only menF ofneighboring villages. Envious, men tried many times to women lived. It was called Musudugu. The women of this village could do everything as well as, if not better than, the conquer Musudugu, but they failed because Musudugu’s women defended their village with the bravery of patriots and because it was protected by the Virgin Girl, the daughter of Atala the Supreme. In return, the Virgin Girl asked the women to keep only one rule: darkness must never cover a man in Musudugu. If a woman gave birth to a boy, she could nurse him in Musudugu, but every mother knew he must be taken to his father the day he could stand up and pass water without soaking his feet. Women cried when the time came for their sons to leave. Those who could not bear the separation left Musudugu, but most returned after a few weeks, for Musudugu was a place of harmony, of singing and dancing, but most of all, of sharing and caring. But a sweet taste in the mouth does not last forever. When Atala the Supreme wants to test a people, He does not send a stranger. He sends a kinsman. So it was for Musudugu the day Kumba Kargbo was born. Sheno ordinary child, for she forced her way out of her was mother’s belly, feet first! A few months after her birth, Kumba disappeared from her mother’s yard, only to be found, hours later, sitting at the edge of the village, looking at the horizon. Before she even became fully a woman, she spoke of letting darkness cover a man in Musudugu. Troubled, the ruling council called a meeting of the entire village to question Kumba Kargbo. “Why do you want to do that which is forbidden?” the council leader, a short, stout woman, demanded. “To know what will happen.” Kumba stood erect as she spoke. “Which will be ruin to Musudugu!”
“How can one man bring ruin to all of us?” Kumba surveyed the gathering. “Have we not been victorious when they tried to conquer us?” None of the women spoke, but Kumba could see from the look in their eyes that some agreed with her. “We must learn new ways,” she continued. “When you plant a seed, does it stay a seed? No! It grows. And if you give it water and manure, does it not grow fast? Why do you want us to stay like seeds?” Kumba’s tone angered the council leader. She snatched the chewing stick from her mouth, sat upright, leaned forward, and addressed Kumba. “Pah! A calf cannot stay a calf forever, but if it sucks greedily, it will tear away its mother’s udder. Look around. See the order in Atala’s creation. Each plant and animal has its place and follows its own path. Maize grows best in the rainy season but groundnut grows during the dry season because it does not need much water. When you do not follow the path, you will end up lost in the bush.” The council leader paused and looked around to make sure everyone was paying attention. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied a nursing boy reach for his mother’s breast. The mother pushed away his hand. He wailed. “Men are like elephant grass in a vegetable garden,” the council leader’s voice became shrill. “If you do not root it out, it will suck up all the water and sunlight and the seedlings will die.” “But how can we grow if we plant the same crop on the farm every year?” “We know that we must plant new crops, but we begin with small patches. We leave the land fallow so that it can build itself up again. We know the thrill of a hunt and that one needs special eyes and hands to do the work of the blacksmith. We know the pleasure of being with a man and know all too well that one person cannot do thatsweet work Atala meant for two.” The leader stopped, got off her stool, and walked away from Kumba. Her abrupt departure confused many. But just as the gathering began to disperse, the council leader spun around and iv
addressed Kumba: “No one is forced to live in Musudugu, to follow its ways like a slave. Every woman here is free to go and live in the world outside. But do you know why they all come back?” She paused, tightened the one-piece clothlappaher waist, and panned across the around assembly. “Because they discover that life is not about killing the leopard, owning a hundred head of cattle, or being the best wrestler, praise singer, or drummer. Life is about seeing yourself as a part of others and being ready to share in their pain. When you understand that, then, and only then, are you ready for life here. Do not bring trouble for us because you feel trapped. Go live and learn in the world outside. You will find that knowledge is like a baobab tree. No one individual can embrace it. Villagers sit under their tree according to the shade it casts. Only a fool like you cuts down the baobab in her village and replaces it with the one from a neighboring village. If the tree does not die, the shade it casts changes and the village changes forever. I am done.” But Kumba was not done. She left to find out why darkness should not cover a man in Musudugu and why women should continue to follow the ways of the Virgin Girl. She traveled far and wide and for many years. She saw and did many wonderful things. At each new place, she sought the wisest men and women and asked her questions. Though no one could answer them, Kumba learned many things on her travels, and the more she learned the taller and bigger she grew, till her head was in the sky. It wasthere she met Atala the Supreme. “Child, why are you here, so far from your kind?” “I don’t know, Father. I can’t remember where I am from or who I am. I have much knowledge, yet I feel lost.” “That’s because you have learned only the surface of things. You need knowledge of the self.” “How do I get that?” “Journey into the self. True knowledge lies deep within the self.” “And then I’ll be able to return home?” Atala chuckled. “Notreturnhome, but beathome.” v