Akata Witch

You can read the plot synopsis and my initial thoughts of Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch here.

I read Akata Witch a few months ago and I meant to write a piece about being a U.S. born Ghanaian soon after.  In all honesty I’m a bit worn out by the discussions.  African vs. African-American and all of its variations.  I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m okay with not fitting into one category or another and I honestly don’t think anyone really does.  But if you’re not yet there — if you’re are struggling with your racial/ethnic/cultural identity, I’m going to introduce you to a timeline of events you can expect to go through before you reach a level of not caring:

  • When you’re in elementary school, you’ll learn the process of Americanizing your name for easy pronunciation.  However your first encounter with a substitute teacher will throw you for a loop.  The substitute teacher will mispronounce your name and everyone will laugh.  Next time you’ll know to arrive at class early to give her your Americanized name or you’ll interrupt her with a loud “HERE!” after she utters the first syllable.
  • You will notice that, beyond your funny sounding name, you really are different from your schoolmates.  This can happen as early as elementary school if your parents boldly denounce assimilation by doing things things like sending you to school with banku and okra soup for lunch.
  • You will discover that being born in the States but connected to elsewhere makes you kind of unique in a good way.  This typically happens in college.  You will join cultural organizations on campus where you and your colleagues put together events in the best imitation of those parties and ceremonies your parents have been taking you to since you were a child.
  • You will visit “home” for the first, maybe second, time in your life and will be reminded that you are different.  You’ll be annoyed when strangers call you American girl with absolutely no hesitation.  Your annoyance will be furthered by everyone’s obsession with your skin complexion and refusal to relax your hair.
  • College is over and you are introduced to another type of lonely.  It’s no longer as easy to connect with people “like you.”  Though you will try with paraphernalia that says what you cannot or by boldly approaching people you hear speaking you mother’s language.  If you’re lucky, they’ll be passive in their rejection.
  • In your loneliness new free time, you discover amazing people who seem to be documenting your experience.  You meet characters like Sunny in Akata Witch who live in more than two worlds that seem to be in opposition of each other.  You recall each encounter in which you have been told “you’re not _____ enough.”  You come to a conclusion that this is all a game of hierarchy built on arbitrary rules of Africanness.  You decide that you equally love grilled cheese sandwiches and spinach stew and will never choose one over the other.

This duality is really a magical place to exist.

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You can purchase Akata Witch at:
IndieBound
Amazon
Powell’s
Barnes & Noble

Web Finds: Sundance 2013, Writer’s Block, Chale Wote & More

Film
Want a chance to attend Sundance 2013? Consider volunteering with AFFRM.

Pariah is out on DVD!

Middle of Nowhere, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Beasts of the Southern Wild will be screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Full schedule will be available here on May 1.

I’ve been coming across a lot of full-length films that are free on YouTube. Planning to watch The Brother From Another Planet soon.

Chinonye Chukwu, director of Alaskaland, opens up about rejection in a personal blog:

Shame, for me, is about the illusion of public failure; it’s about the embarrassment of not reaching expectations I’ve created for myself and that I think others have of me as well. But the thing about shame, as Ms. Brown said in her talk, is that the public failure and critique that we are so ashamed of and embarrassed by is usually self conceived…

I’m not going to shy away or try to suppress my feelings of shame or embarrassment; rather I’m going to confront it head-on, allow myself to feel it, but still keep moving forward. It’s not about being tough all the time or being impervious to insecurity and self-doubt; but it’s about what you do in the midst of those feelings, at some point in time.

Literary
Did you miss Women Writers on the Horizon with Alice Walker, Sonia Sanchez, and Ruby Dee? Here’s the video.

Nnedi Okorafor was interviewed by The Africa Channel, part 1 and part 2 of the interview are on YouTube.

The Oberlin Review interviews Edwidge Danticat.  She reiterates some of what she said at Artist at Work and adds a few gems.

Other
A visual recap of Accra’s Chale Wote Festival.

The song and the story of him writing this song is inspiration for anyone: