Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.57.29 PM

Hawa Jande Golakai takes the art of essay writing to a whole new level in her resent feature on Granta. The essay is titled “Fugee” and chronicles her experience of the Ebola crisis.

“Fugee” is originally part of an anthology titled Safe House, a mixed-genre non-fiction collection by African writers. The collection is edited by African publishing royalty, Ellah Allfrey, in collaboration with Commonwealth Writers. If “Fugee” is anything to go by, Safe House promises to be a special treat for lovers of African writing.

“Fugee” is breathtakingly beautiful. The essay affords Golakai’s fans a different way to connect with her and her writing. There is so much that is beautiful about the essay.

First, Golakai situates her experience of the Ebola crisis within a broader African landscape that takes her on an urban odyssey through Durban, Johannesburg, Monrovia, Accra, and Port Harcourt. She talks about having a run-in with an annoying journalist in Durban. As news of the Ebola scare reaches her in Johannesburg, she describes the feelings of guilt she experiences for not wanting to care but being forced to care. Her attempt to return to Monrovia is halted by immigration troubles. She is accused of immigration fraud in Johannesburg and briefly locked up in jail. She arrives Monrovia to meet a city inching closer to crisis mode and proceeds to give an arresting picture of everyday life in a city under the siege of a deadly virus.

Ellah-Allfrey-c-Daniela-Silva-copy

Ellah Allfrey, Editor of Safe House {image by Daniela-Silva}

“Fugee” is not just an Ebola story. It is also a private exploration of a writer’s life and how this life of individual artistic pursuit intersects with larger forces in troubling but also enriching ways.

The essay is an enthralling read. “Fugee” is essentially a long string of skillfully-crafted sentences that are so beautiful they could be catch phrases. Here are few:

Journalist: ‘Ja, but where are you from originally?’ the journalist presses me.

Golakai: ‘You can’t be unoriginally from somewhere. I don’t think that’s a thing.’

“The guy behind the counter at the Clicks pharmacy is so delicious he’s practically a food group.”

“Writing isn’t respectable – not in Africa, anyway. I’m considered a sufferer of Me Disease, an unrepentant member of the selfish generation, we who shirk duty to follow pipe dreams.”

“A guy back home has thrown his hat into the ring for my affection. I don’t know. Men are dicks . . . but then again, men have dicks. So. I’m vacillating between uncertainty and blushes.”

“Airports get seriously wrong, creepy, after all the shops close. Like abandoned warehouses. Unlucky stragglers huddle by the gates, bleary-eyed, giving each other grim stares.”

CgVEXrWXEAEON92

In spite of the somber subject explored in the essay, “Fugee” is a delightful read. Golakai prevents her account of Ebola from being a bleak retelling of a nation in crisis. She does this by infusing her account with a good bit of humor and introspection.

Click here to read “Fugee”

 

Tags: , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Read the First Excerpt from Petina Gappah’s New Novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light

petina gappah - out of darkness, shining light - graph

Petina Gappah‘s new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released on 10 September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. […]

We Need To Talk | Muriel Adhiambo | Fiction

unsplash4

IT WAS A warm, humid night in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Under a starless sky, the women, seated on […]

For World Diabetes Day, Miss BloodSugar Calls for Entries to Competition & Anthology Sponsored by Bella Naija

mbs final edit

Press release: What’s your diabetes story? Are you diabetic? Have you been impacted by the experiences of a family/friend/patient with […]

The Hour of Judgment | Edith Knight Magak | Fiction

unsplash1

THE HOUR OF judgment has come upon me, and my hope for redemption is pegged on a needle, sorcery, and […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.