Shades of night
Long legs like a deer
The way she walks,
Like a fawn
I revel at this wonder of God
In a different world
She would have been
She’d shine like the star
That she is
Alas, she is just a normal lass
The way she knows how
No shining lights
Nor strobe lights
She’s just Bella
Bella by the roadside
Black gold Bella
“I’m asking you to control his desires, to be the zapper of his zipper, the oil in his motor, the cable of his printer, the laces of his shoes.”
A STORY OF LOVE, FOOD AND ITS EXTREMITIES
From Porcupine with the nuts of wild mangoes to Boa in banana leaves, a devoted Aissatou is hell bent on cooking her way to the heart of the man—Bolobolo— she loves. Mr Bolobolo is a man from Mali who lives with his mother whom ‘is losing her marbles’ and her beloved pet chicken. She starts cooking and sending the meals to Bolobolo. At first, he hesitates, but later finds himself deep in the plate of whatever meal Aissatou has cooked. Bolobolo succumbs to the powerful force of good food and enters relationship with her. However, in this case, the age-long saying that the way to a man’s heart is his stomach loses credibility. Although it does a part of the job and wonderful things to a man’s palate and stomach, the heroine comes to the realization that food isn’t enough to keep a man.
This is an ultra-modern rom-com (a fusion of romance and comedy) story set in Paris. Beyala’s writing style in showing us the different dimensions of the human mind is noteworthy. She makes use of the first person point of view, thereby making the story very relatable and personal. You feel the heat Aissatou is feeling, preparing her meals and how eager she is in getting Mr Bolobolo. In addition, using satire the author dabs into other issues such as racism, identity and sexism amongst others.
This book will make you hungry. Beyala accompanies every chapter with mouth-watering recipes. The use of vivid graphic imagery by the author is excellent and this way the reader does not feel alienated.
“Food is the stuff of life, the same as life. Today it makes for more unity than justice. It’s maybe the only thing that will bring peace and reconciliation to humankind.”
So, can one really cook one’s husband the African way or any other way? Is it feasible? The answer to those questions is what Beyala has tried to trash out in her book.
The book is significant in many ways. First, it brings out the magical power of food. The author has successfully lectured us on how food can soften a man’s heart. From start to finish, we witness Aissatou winning all her battles with different kinds of meals.
“Because to be white you’ve got to be thin… A beautiful woman is flat as a pancake, thin as a rake or a slice of Melba toast. Melba toast snaps easily. Circle crackle. I measure my life by my waist” Continue reading
“One day you’ll come to Segu. You’ve never seen a town like it. The towns here were created by the white men—they were born out of the trade in human flesh… But Segu—Segu is like a woman you can only possess by force.” Segu p.417
Segu is a brilliant piece written by Condé, which is rich in historical facts. Originally written in French and was translated by Barbara Ray—Kudos to the translator! Without her, I might not have had the opportunity to read this beautiful work of art. It was recommended to me last year when I put up a post about some of my favourite books; so glad I bought and read it.
The book has 490 pages and is divided into five parts. It begins in Segu (situated in present-day Mali), the capital of the 18th century Bambara Empire and in between, you get to visit distant lands. Through the desert you find your way to Timbuktu (also situated in present-day Mali), have brief encounters with the Ashanti Empire (present-day Ghana), a bit of flirtation with 19th century London, you even get to spend some time in Freetown and trace the edges of Lagos! (Situated in present-day Nigeria). How beautiful is that?
Everything In Nigeria Is Going To Kill You by Ayo Sogunro
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
Segu by Maryse Condé
The Concubine by Elechi Amadi
Efuru by Flora Nwapa
So Long A Letter by Mariam Bâ
Psst!… I’ve started Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou, trust me it’s a good one. A tale of drunks, broken individuals, overbearing officials, cuckold husbands e.t.c. A mix of humour & satire! Also been putting an eye out for the titles of 170 classics of international literature mentioned in the book. If you get the book and you’re able to find all 170, Serpent’s tail would love to hear from you. Email them: email@example.com
With Love From Ola💋xoxo