Book Review: Pack Light: Memoirs of Growing up In Africa.

Book Review: Pack Light: Memoirs of Growing up In Africa.

Pack Light is a collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by writers across continental Africa. The collection was launched on 3rd September 2020 by Ibua Publishing.

I love collections/anthologies because they are a good deal. They offer to buy one and get many other free😂😂 sorta deal. Pack Light is indeed lightly packed with a diversity of stories from Africa. It`s packed with short stories and beautiful poems that I would love to hear at a recital and reading. The stories drive you to Gulu in Uganda where a family`s hope is just but a flicker; then to Kenya where the economic divide is visible due to changes in lifestyle-one moment you are on top, the next you are down; onto South Africa and the tales of xenophobia. You stop over at Opebi Link-bridge in Nigeria and see the social-economic divide clearly but also the sacrifices of love by Kunle for Ada and his unborn baby.

The stories explore an array of themes that are pivotal to our continent: patriarchy, women empowerment, social-economic divide, family conflicts, divorce, police brutality and hypocrisy, colorism, cultural complexities, female genital mutilation, identity crisis, war and effects, and so much more.

What happens when a family`s hopes are dashed? In A Flicker by Otim Jackson Oyugi Dre the narrator holds my hands and walks me through Ma`s ordeal; tragedy upon tragedy. It is believed that giving your child an education lifts you and the entire family out of poverty. I believe that indeed education puts anyone at an advantage but what happens when the only person capable of lifting the family out of poverty, life knocks them down and it seems like they will not get back up?

For the longest time, young African men and women have struggled with the color of their skin and the world answered them with bleaching agents. Oyinbo by Chukwuemeka Famous explores colorism and its effects. Nonso uses his mother`s bleaching agents because he is tired of being shades darker than his family members and people around him.

Here you are sleeping when your mates are all dressed for school,’’ Papa had yelled before walking out of my room. “I think your dark complexion is deceiving you that you don`t even know when its broad daylight.’’ These words are harsh coming from a father and they further damaged the young man`s esteem.

“Days later, I was an oyinbo, a light-skinned African, no longer in the league of cheap Africans.’’

I enjoyed this story quite too much because a young man was narrating his perspective and struggle with colorism. Quite honestly, I knew that women struggle with this and have heard so many stories and seen many women who have bleached because of this. Reading a young man`s struggle on the issue had me worried about the boys/men of our generation. Nonso even after the change realised not even the light complexion could deal with his insecurities.

Some of the stories are available on Ibua Journal. Be sure to check them out.

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