Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Book Displayed in Barnes and Noble

I visited the Burnsville Barnes and Noble bookstore on September 24 after hearing that my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, was on display as one of the books recommended by store staff. A store attendant showed me the shelf and I saw my book accompanied by the following recommendation:

Short and sweet. A wonderful read about the differences between Africans and Americans. I feel wiser to the world after reading this. -- Recommended by Dan.

There are countless books in a Barnes and Noble store, but only a few get to be on the staff recommendation list. I am humbled by the honour accorded my modest book.

This has been a great year for my book. A number of influential people have come out and recommended it publicly. I am not surprised. I knew, when I was writing it, that it would touch people because it deals with real-life problems. I thank all these people for helping me spread the word, as the saying goes.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Launching of the "L MAGAZINE"

On September 8, I attended the launching of a new publication, the L MAGAZINE, at the Civic Center in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. On the same occasion, several people received awards for notable achievements.

For Bukola Oriola, the launching of the magazine was a dream come true. This inaugural issue features writers talking about book writing, publishing and marketing. It is a rich treasure of experiences, reflections, and lessons. It also contains information about human trafficking, one of Bukola Oriola's central concerns.

Producing this magazine must have involved an incredible amount of work, and Bukola and her team deserve great credit. I see a bright future for this magazine, as a forum especially for people involved with books, but also those interested in advertising their businesses and services. You can get a copy of the magazine at

Friday, September 7, 2018

My Fall 2018 Folklore Texts

I wish I could teach folklore without books. We would just be sitting around telling stories, singing and talking about folklore. We would be watching video recordings of folklore performances from different parts of the world and discussing them.

Trapped in the culture of writing, I have selected six books for my folklore class this fall: The Vanishing Hitchhiker, Russian Folk Lyrics, How to Read a Folktale: The Ibonia Epic from Madagascar, The Bootk of Dede Korku, Gilgamesh, Matengo Folktales. I want to say a word about Matengo Folktales.

For years, I had misgivings about including my own book in my course. I began to change my mind after learning that professors in several colleges and universities had used or were using it. One even invited me to speak in her class.

I was also aware that I could do my best teaching of the folktale if I used my own Matengo tradition. That would benefit my students the most, since I know the language, the performance tradition, and the cultural references of the tales. I also can sing the songs.

Still, I had misgivings, which I only overcame when I decided that the students would buy the book and use it and then sell it back to me after the course, if they wished. I am pleased with that policy.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Another Note on Yaa Gyasi's "Homegoing"

I have been teaching Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing, as I noted on a previous blog post. Now that we have read the whole novel, I can say another word on it.

This is an ambitious novel, covering the African experience in Africa and America over several centuries. Starting from the country now known as Ghana we enter society founded on communal principles and but also tensions between ethnic groups. We see people being captured and enslaved for domestic servitude or sent away to Cape Coast Castle, to await the sea voyage to America.

The horrors of life in the Caste,and of the slave trade in general, are graphically represented. The struggles of black people in America and Africa are covered in this novel which ultimately is an epic story of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a story of greed and grief, but also of hope.

Although great numbers of black people perished in the course of centuries, the black man and woman survived and persisted, like the little stone that we see passed on from generation to generation in the novel. The novel uses flashback and other techniques and abounds with imagery, especially of fire and water. In the background there is an intriguing crazy woman.

Homegoing touches on cultural and other differences between Africans and African Americans but also brings up Pan Africanism. I suggest, as i did in a previous post, that  it be read alongside, or following, Ama Ata Aidoo's The Dilemma of a Ghost.