Book Club chronicles – Talks about the ‘Otherness’ at Wang Thai

I may not have mentioned this before (or maybe I have) but the RASTA book club/supper club/ hang-out-together-and-stuff-ourselves-silly club is originally made up of a group of five aah-mazing ladies (myself included). Book club is however open to anyone that meets our so-called standards (i.e. can read and willing to pay ridiculous amount of money for food), so we have included two equally amazing ladies in the group. One of which is guest post blogger, Rukayat , also known as the voice of all Nigerians 🙂

Yes, I like to stereotype people.
And how fitting it was that we have the “voice of all Nigerians” as a member of our book club when we are reading “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was the second time I read the book. And it was as good as the first time. Chimamanda has managed to put a more human face on the horrors of the Biafra War and any other war generally. She has the wonderful gift of constantly reminding her readers about the bigger picture as told by each of her characters. I honestly fall in love with her writing each time I read her books.
And so I came prepared to impress everyone with my analysis of the book – you know, using my well prepared paragraph as typed out above :). Little did I know that book club leader of the night is an economist by day but a social science professor by night. See exhibit A below:

Some discussion points for tomorrow’s book club shindig:

1) The purpose of oscillating between the early and late 1960s

2) The choice of the three characters through which story is narrated (Ugwu, Olanna and Richard)

3) The perceptions of the three main classes of people living in Nigeria of one another and themselves (former British colonists, educated middle-class black Nigerians and lower-class Nigerians)

4) The ways in which the war made Nigerians both unequal and equal

5) How Adichi captures the horror of war so well (eg. physical, psychological, emotional)

6) The role of collective trauma in creating and/or cementing identity and the ‘otherness’ of this process

(excuse pretentious social science speak)


The Otherness?!?

The otherness

The look on my face when I read these questions

WTF is the otherness”???

Yikes, I need to get new friends that aren’t such over-achievers.
Needless to say, we were all saved from admitting that we k now nothing about the otherness” when Nigerian Voice of the night gave us her perspective on the Biafra War, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and all other issues affecting young Nigerians. It was by far the most productive and most “intellectual” book club night by far. We actually talked about the book and issues raised in the book for at least an hour.

A WHOLE HOUR!!! Hehehe, our “book club” may finally be a book club after all – and it only took reading Chimamanda to get us talking about the book.

However, worry not dear reader, our priorities are still in place – we did not forget to eat 🙂 and get wedding gossip from our two newly engaged ladies. Hehe, old habits won’t go away. Wang Thai is surprisingly affordable (not extremely cheap but not as expensive as other places in Sandton) with really good food.

Wang Thai_2


Wang Thai

Was it the best Thai food I’ve eaten? Not really – I still prefer Sai Thai in Cyrildene.





Like everyone else in the world – I am perplexed and saddened by what is happening in Nigeria. And angry. I am angry that it has taken a little over two weeks for Nigerian authorities to appear as if they are taking this matter seriously. TWO WEEKS?!? 

There was nonstop news coverage and a well-documented international search for the missing people on the Malaysian flight MH370. It has taken a little over two weeks for the world to sit up and take notice of the absolute  travesty that has occurred in Nigeria. SERIOUSLY TWO WEEKS – IS THE FACT THAT OVER 200 GIRL CHILDREN ARE BEING SOLD INTO SLAVERY NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO MAKE INTO THE NEWS?!!

I recently read a very interesting article on how the Western media has covered the plight of these children. Read below and share with others.


[P.S. is my fav tea time site these days.  thought-provoking articles galore.]



Author: Karen Attiah 

Like so many others I am glad to see more people around the world take up the issue of the school girls who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago from Chibok in the north east region of Nigeria. I am relieved to see people of different backgrounds, in my social media feeds join the #WhereAreOurGirls and #BringBackOurDaughters conversations in solidarity with the grieving families of those missing girls. Celebrities including Chris Brown, Keri Hilson and Mary J. Bilge have contributed their support to the #bringbackourgirls campaigns.

But even as the rest of the world finally gets around to paying attention to this story, we should consider this an apt moment to pause and reflect on how we write about conflict in Africa, young girls and how the western media tends to render female children invisible not just by a lack of coverage, but in the language we use to talk about them.

For two weeks, the plight more than 200 girls was barely covered in the western media, which led me to wonder if there are gendered notions of African children that deserve protection from African conflict. African boys seem to have received the lion’s share of western preoccupation when it comes to conflicts on the continent. A google image search for the words “child”, “conflict” and “Africa” are mostly images of male child soldiers holding semi-automatic weapons. Many people familiar with conflict know of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, or the boy soldiers of “Invisible Children” of Uganda. Perhaps boy child soldiers invoke a western fascination with the myth of African males, who naturally brutish and violent and are easily coerced into killing one another because, “primordial hatred”. But do many people know that in 1996 in Aboke, Uganda, more than 100 school girls between the ages of 13 and 16 were kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army? That many of them were rescued by their school mistress? That it took almost ten years to get most of them back? I have not heard much mention of the Aboke girls at all in coverage of the missing Chibok girls.GEJProtestpic

Beyond lack of coverage, I questioned on Twitter the language we use to talk about girls who are abducted in conflict situations. News media reports said that a number of the girls have been “sold as brides to Islamic militants for $12” Is it appropriate to call these girls “brides” or “wives” in our reporting just because the militants may refer to them as such? In scanning the Nigerian media, I did not see the words “brides” or “wives” feature as heavily as I did in Western reporting.

There is nothing remotely resembling marriage in what has happened to these girls. In my view, these girls are not brides, but rather they have been trafficked and sold into nothing short of slavery. Imagine if the world headlines read, “235 Children in Nigeria Kidnapped and Sold Into Slavery”, I would bet reactions would be swifter and stronger. If the reports are true, it is very likely that the girls will be forcibly used for sex, perhaps in addition to cooking, cleaning and other types of labor for the militants. Is this not slavery? When do we use the term “child slave” versus “child bride” for African girls?

I reiterate, I am glad that the world is finally taking notice of the Chibok girls. On the other hand, I do grow nervous when overly sensationalized coverage of children in African conflicts in the West go the way of #kony2012. While the language we use to talk about these girls must do the utmost the horror of their plight, but that in our eagerness to “say something” we do not marginalize them further.GEJPhoto

Images by Zachary Rosen, taken at yesterday’s #BringBackOurGirls protest, Washington DC.