06 October 2016, The Tablet

African voices

by Patricia Duffaud

 

Safe House: explorations in creative nonfiction
EDITED BY ELlAH WAKATAMA ALLFREY

“Too often, writing about Africa has been at a distance, a view to a place far away,” says Ellah Wakatama Allfrey in her introduction. Her anthology offers an alternative to texts that give the reader the facts from the point of view of an outsider. It mixes essays with themes chosen by the writers themselves and commissioned pieces about specific subjects.

The collection covers an outstanding range of countries and perspectives. It  enables African writers to examine others in their midst, rather than being the observed. In “Eating Bitter”, for example, Kevin Eze follows Chinese migrants who work as shopkeepers in Dakar. He describes their liminal existence as they avoid mixing with the local population: they view their time in Senegal as temporary and plan to return to China when they get rich.

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