Toyin Falola's memoir, A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt, portrays one boy's views on the culture and customs of his county from his perspective as an active participant as well as an observer. From determining his mother's age to joining in the struggle to free an innocent man, Dr. Falola's journey growing up in Nigeria embodies the rich, diverse history that defines Africa.
The opening of the novel places the reader not in Falola's shoes as a child, but rather as an adult scholar attempting to procure information from his own family. This proves easier said than done as Falola takes us through the process of obtaining specific dates in a society that deems them irrelevant. By examining the difficulty that Falola has in this seemingly simple task, the reader begins to understand the way in which time and space are intertwined and weighed in Africa. This concept of "connections between words, space, and rituals" encompasses the way that Africans perceive the world around them - as a series of interrelated events rather than specific instances in time (Falola 224). This approach also stems from the concept that the family unit, the village, and the elders come before the individual in all instances, making a detail such as a birthday unimportant when it comes to the welfare of the whole. Introducing the reader to the complexities of African conventions, Falola expands their minds and challenges them to view the forthcoming narrative with untainted eyes.
The structure of the memoir immerses the reader in African culture by incorporating anecdotes, poems, proverbs, and songs. These elements combine to emphasize the importance of oral institutions and to convey the significance of understanding them, "One must learn proverbs
a proverb is regarded as the horse' that carries words to a different level, investing them with meanings, enrobing the user with the garment of wisdom" (Falola 53). "As in this case and others that I witnessed, the leader must be gifted...
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