Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for.
Saro-Wiwa travels from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park. She explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood.
She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it si far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rainforest and ancient palaces and monuments. Most engagingly of all, she introduces us to the many people she meets, and gives us hilarious insights into the African character, its passion, wit and ingenuity.
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Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria in 1976 and raised in England. She attended King’s College London and Columbia University in New York. She currently lives in London.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* The daughter of slain Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa revisits her homeland as an adult in this absorbing tour of that complex African country. As a child, Saro-Wiwa resented being pulled from her life in London to be shuttled off to Nigeria with her family. Now she devotes several months to getting to know the country as an adult. She begins her journey in Lagos, staying with a family friend and braving perilous public transportation to visit the heart of the Nigerian oil industry, a local museum, and a beach, where she’s courted by a charming con man. She finds the new capital of Abuja, where her older brother now lives, cleaner and less congested than Lagos, but it lacks the former capital’s lively character. Saro-Wiwa had high hopes for Transwonderland, an amusement park built in Ibadan, but it’s run-down and essentially deserted. As she tours the country and gets to know people from its many ethnic groups, she gains a better understanding of and appreciation for Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa is a sharp and insightful guide, giving readers an intimate look at the varied regions that comprise this fascinating country. --Kristine Huntley
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