The Riverside Book Club
Have you read Things Fall Apart? The novel is Chinua Achebe’s masterful work about life in an Igbo village when the missionaries first arrive. I read it during Peace Corps training in 1962.
On Saturday I attended the Riverside Book Club at The Riverside Church in New York. My friend Luvon had invited me to the discussion of Achebe’s book.
The day’s facilitator Kevin opened the conversation. “Many of us have not read this book since college. Rereading after years or decades can bring new insight,” he said.
There was general agreement that age and life experience bring a greater ability to understand the characters and the events. Several of us said that when we first read it, we hadn’t grasped the enormity of what Achebe had done – writing the first major African novel by an African.
A lot of discussion centered on Okonkwo, the tragic figure central to the book. Mary and others thought he was similar to Shakespeare’s King Lear in his cruelity and in contributing to disaster by his own actions.
Have you read Things Fall Apart? Did you find Okonkwo to be a tragic figure?
I found an excellent video that reflects on the importance of the work. It’s thirty minutes, so you may want to just sample. But it’s worth the time if you want to remember, or learn for the first time, why the book is important in the literary world.
More Book Clubs Read My Memoir
Last month my Mount Holyoke Book Group read and discussed my memoir, Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad.
Last week was the turn of Baker’s Dozen. Both were stimulating discussions. I especially loved hearing the perspectives on my life and experiences from women who know me well. A few of their questions were similar to questions I often get, but others were deeper, more challenging, and more intimate. I’m so glad the groups decided to take a chance on discussing the memoir of their member!
At the end of the two-hour discussion at Riverside Church Book Group on Saturday there was a vote on the next book to read. They chose my memoir! Luvon lobbied for it; Mary and Regina did too. They were both already familiar with my book.
I am thrilled and will go back for the December 12th discussion.
Two Key Ministers in Nigeria
President Buhari’s new ministers, sworn in last week, have attracted attention.
Those of greatest interest to foreign investors, according to the National Law Review’s article by Mipe Okunseinde, are Babatunde Fashola (Minister of Power, Works and Housing), Kemi Adeosun (Minister of Finance), Okechukwu Enelamah, (Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment) and President Muhammadu Buhari (Minister of Petroleum).
Fashola, the former governor of Lagos State, may have the greatest challenge with the power sector. In July this year the country was able to generate nearly 5,000MW. But according to Nigeria’s Guardian, “This is still below the peak demand forecast of 12,800MW.” My guess is that the real demand is even higher. Can Fashola handle this? Indeed, can anyone?
“Fashola is well-known and well-regarded in Nigeria as well as abroad. It is a significant sign of President Buhari’s confidence in Fashola that he has assigned him responsibility for the power sector,” the author says.
The second, finance, is probably equally challenging, with the price of oil near the lowest level in recent years, according to Macrotrends.
Kemi Adeosun “has private sector experience in accounting and investment banking as well as international degrees in economics and public financial management.” Her academic qualifications are buttressed by experience. “She most recently served as finance commissioner of Ogun [State] and some credit her with turning around the state’s financial situation.”
The author says, “Adeosun’s focus on increased tax enforcement as a revenue enhancing initiative during her tenure suggests that she will readily continue the recent efforts, at the federal level, to step up tax enforcement.” She favors reduced government spending on overhead and salaries, as Buhari does. However, “with respect to infrastructure investment and other development projects, she believes that ‘each time we spend, more revenue come[s] in.’” I’m with her!
I like these two appointments; they give me confidence in Buhari’s plans.
Mars Research at Mount Holyoke
Since 6th grade I’ve been intrigued by astronomy – the planets, the stars, and space travel. Darby Dyer, Professor of Astronomy at my alma mater Mount Holyoke College, studies “how planets evolve and how planetary geology changes over time.”
She is part of the NASA research team that created and works with the Mars Rover called Curiousity. The college recently sent a brief video about her work. “In her Mount Holyoke lab, Dyar and her students create synthetic rocks to further the understanding of how the minerals respond to different conditions.”
You can watch the video and envy the students who get to take part! The video comes courtesy of the Mount Holyoke Office of Communications.
Children and Race
Laura from the Mount Holyoke Book Group sent me an article from the Washington Post, The day my daughter realized she isn’t white.
It reminds me of our daughter when at age 3 I took her back to Nigeria after nearly two years away. Of course she didn’t remember her dad. Although I had talked about him, I probably never said he was black. She was shocked!
Sonja from my Baker’s Dozen Book Group sent me information on integrated learning, bringing racial equity into a wider curriculum. I’ll pass this on to our TEAM Westport members as she suggested.