Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Book Summary

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  • Topic: AIDS, Africa, Second-class citizen
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  • Published : January 6, 2008
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Nine Hills to Nambonkaha is a compilation of the observations and experiences of an earnest, concerned, and— for lack of a better phrase— hopelessly ethnocentric American woman. By trying to become an accepted member of the community while simultaneously attempting to change an entire people's ideology, Sarah Erdman conveys to the reader the fact that her most heroic attempts, in the end, prove to be nothing more than another fleeting glimpse in a nation where the words ‘tomorrow' and ‘yesterday' have the same meaning. To put it in the words of the author, "These days it [Nambonkaha] ticks like the chief's old cuckoo clock, disregarding the real passage of time and moving ever more sluggishly, as if it were slowly being strangled.(317)" The tragedy of Nambonkaha is both disconcerting and enlightening at the same time; it is disconcerting because it seems that no matter how hard one tries to affect a village positively the attempts are all in vain, yet it is terrifyingly enlightening because it is just one of the innumerable scenarios showing that Africa is the only one that can change Africa.

Stepping into the village of Nambonkaha is, at first glance, like stepping into a world free of all the stresses of modern day life. However, if one strips away all of the superficial smiles, all of the luxuries that Sarah Erdman accepts as trivial (such as chickens from villagers), and if one strips away all of the romanticism Erdman places into waking in a village tok-tok'ing as woman pound food for their family— it will be found that this so described picturesque village is anything but a stress free world. In a way, animism has become to Africa like what apathy is to America. Stress is suppressed and re-routed in an anti-productive manner. The ignorance the people of this humble village exhibit is akin to the ignorance that the American people exhibit when viewing themselves through the eyes of an Islamic Fundamentalist; it just cannot be done. Exemplarily taking this...
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