Random NotesFrancophonic World: Words without Borders features African writers this month. Alain Mabanckou's "Blue White Red" reflects on Africans' perceptions and experiences of the mere patrie (Mabanckou recently won the Prix Goncourt):
I was one of those who thought that France was for the others. France was for those who we used to call les bouillants—the go-getters. It was that faraway country, inaccessible despite its fireworks that shimmered even in my smallest dreams, and from which I woke with a taste of honey in my mouth. True, I had been secretly working in my field of dreams on that wish to cross the Rubicon, to go there some day. It was a common wish; there was nothing special about that wish. You could hear that wish expressed from every mouth. Who of my generation had not visited France par la bouche—by mouth, as we say back home. Just one word, Paris, was enough for us to meet by magic spell in front of the Eiffel Tower, at the Arc de Triomphe, and on the Champs Elysées. Boys my age led their girls on by showering them with the serenade: I’ll be going to France soon. I’m going to live in the center of Paris. We were allowed to dream. It didn’t cost anything. No exit visa was necessary, no passport, no airline ticket. Think about it. Close your eyes. Sleep. Snore. And there we were, every night...Paroles des esclavage is a memory project of slavery in Martinique (sorry, it's in French).
Reality caught up with us. The barriers were insurmountable. The first obstacle for me was my parents’ poverty. We weren’t dying of hunger, but a trip to France was nothing but an extravagance for them. We could do without it. We could live without having gone there. What’s more, the Earth continued to rotate. The sun followed its course and would visit other faraway places; we would cross paths in the same places, in our fields or at the marketplace at slaughter time or when the peanuts were harvested. My parents would be ruined for no good reason by contributing to an adventure like that.
Roma in Greece: Devious Diva's Roma Series has been receiving much deserved attention.