The Dark Child
Camara Laye wrote The Dark Child to oppose stereotypes that have become part of western culture. When most westerners think about Africa they think of an undeveloped country that is stricken by poverty and primitive behavior. The dark child is an autobiography of Camara Laye’s youth and his early life growing in to adulthood. Camara Laye grew up in the town of Kouroussa on the inland plain of French Guinea in the Malinke tribe. His father was a well-renounced blacksmith and a man of tradition but he wanted a Western education for his son. Around the center of this book is where Camara Laye describes his initiation into adulthood at about the age of thirteen. He and the other boys sing while they enter the forest where they kneel with closed eyes with a roar of many lions surrounding them. Later he discovers the "rational" explanations for these frightening events, but he is wise enough to recognize that for the boys who take part in it, the ceremony is still a true test of courage, and a real division between childhood and adulthood. The actual circumcision comes later, which he describes as "a really dangerous ordeal, and no game" Upon his return to the village, he is moved to his own hut, separated from his mother and father and he is given new "men's clothes" with quiet gratitude. This scene closes with Camara turning to his mother to thank her, who he finds standing quietly behind him, smiling at him sadly. Shortly after moving into his hut, Camara leaves at 15 years of age to attend "Ecole Georges Poiret, now known as the technical college" in Guinea's capital city of Conakry. His mother warns him to "be careful with strangers" and sends him off on a train to live with his Uncles Sekou and Mamadou in Conakry. In the school, Camara encounters difficult language barriers and a hot, humid climate more severe than his home in Koroussa. In his new school it is evident that it is more colonized. Camara lives the life of a typical college student...
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