The Gambia Diaries

Book: The Gambia Diaries  by Enuma Chigbo

Genre: Travel

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Briefly, it’s: the travel journal of a Nigerian woman who spent a week on holiday in the Gambia in 2011.

What I liked: I loved being able to read a travel book which told of two Nigerian women visiting another African country.  This is not your typical Western traveller coming to have preconceived post-colonial ideas of Africa shattered; it is a fresh vision.  It is interesting to read Chigbo’s take on e.g. the sex tourism in the Gambia, or the practice of juju / voodoo (though we don’t learn much about the actual practice), or her visit to James island, holding place for so many Africans sold into slavery in centuries past.

What I didn’t like so much:
The writing is not developed enough.  There is nothing in the diary part that really prepared me or seemed to lead up to her vocation musings in the final chapter.  At only 105 pages, the material could have been more thoroughly explored.
–   There are quite a few notes, esp. translations of local phrases, but they appear at the end of the book and I could not find a way of linking to them directly from the page I was reading in the Kindle version, which was frustrating.

Anything else: This book represents some of what is best and some of what is worst in independent publishing.  It is great that a new, fresh writer can be given a platform.  It is a pity that the work was not much more heavily edited.


Book: Pepper, by Sinmisola Ogunyinka

Genre: Romance

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Briefly, it’s: a contemporary romance set in Calabar, Nigeria.

What I liked: The Nigerian authors that I’ve dipped into up to now have all been Big Names, dealing with Serious Topics.  This is a much lighter book (though the author has her own serious agenda – read the book to find out), and much more accessible.  I loved its unselfconscious Nigerian-ness.  It brings the reader into a very different cultural world: that of ardent Evangelical Nigerian Christians.  It was a great read, and I’m delighted I downloaded it.