Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Roots by Alex Haley

One of my lecturers at uni gave me Alex Haley's epic book 'Roots' for vacation reading. I had always heard a lot about this book but somehow, never got around to reading it.

I am into the 120th page and its amazing! I am sure a lot of you have read it but here is what I am going to do. Every time I blog, I am going to write a summary of what I have read so far because it is a great book. A lot of people would not have the patience or the time to read 730 pages of very small print. This is for them.

Roots is a story that spans seven generations. It begins with a birth in 1750, in an African village and ends at a funeral of the author's father. It is basically a story of the Americanisation of an African family.

The story so far: Kunta is the boy born to Omoro and Binta Kinte, a descendent of a very famous holy man. The burden of upholding the family name at all costs rests heavily on him (I can so relate to what he must have gone through!). Kunta grows up in the village of Juffure in The Gambia where he spends time tending his family goats, teaching his brother, chatting with the old Nyo Boto and playing with his kafo-mates. I just finished reading how he goes through very rigorous manhood-training where he and others of his age learn the art of war, hunting and survival in the forests. Kunta is now of fifteen rains (that is how age was counted) and is now officially a man and in the fourth kafo (that is how the stages of life were referred to as). He is now back in his village and is getting a new hut for himself. Await as I read further.....

What I love about this book is that you can actually feel the essence of Africa. The author puts in a lot of African words like kafo, toubob (the white men), drumtalk, etc and does not really explain their meaning. It is left to you to deduce their meaning from the repeated usage and the context.

1 comment:

San Nakji said...

I saw the mini series when I was a kid and didn't get it at all. Rated as one of the classic novels of all time. Hence, I doubt I will read it... (sad but true...)