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Passing Through the World: A Story of Childhood, Curiosity and Perplexity Paperback – February 15, 2012
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
By Amin George Forji
While Amin George Forji’s autobiography could be read as the story of a young boy growing up in the polygamous family culture of a traditional African village or as a tale of the powerful influence of books and formal education on a young African’s mind or as a moving spiritual journey, I chose to read the author’s rich life history through the lens of his burgeoning socio-cultural critical eye, political consciousness and commitment to social justice. Throughout the text, interspersed with vivid accounts of family interactions and rituals, fantastic arrays of food and moments of piercing self-awareness, he offers the reader a strong African critique of the slave trade and colonization. He also critically addresses the ideology of Western organized religion on Africans.
Forji deftly captures what it was like to grow up under colonial domination. When he was a baby, his father, Ambrose Efuetanjoh Morfaw, husband of seven official wives, left the compound to settle in the coastal town of Victoria. His father refused to submit to the “brutal white regime” of German colonialists who had invaded Bangwa land. It wasn’t until a decade before Cameroon independence that his father would return. The loss of his father reverberated painfully in Forji’s consciousness but stories of his father’s unwillingness to accept the white power structure focused Forji’s critical political eye on issues of colonial injustice very early on in his life.
Forji also turns his attention to the influence of organized religion in African culture. Having been well schooled in Bible stories by an eloquent headmaster, he vehemently argues Bible quotations with born-again Christians who believe in a literal translation of the Bible. He is proud that he can challenge with “equal force” the “born-agains who [are] so used to bombarding people with a barrage of biblical quotations, many times out of context…”(p.224). He also sees through the hypocrisy in his own church (Roman Catholic) where the white “Fada” (Reverend Father) and “Sistas”(Sisters) can pack the church with people coming to confess their sins but who are without compassion themselves. When asked, they refuse to help poor parishioners with everyday needs and they retreat to their luxurious villas. Fada preaches the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ yet is a loveless man with a big smile who merely “talks” religion. How is it that Africans cannot “read the faces of white people properly” and thus fall under the spell of the Gospel white man? Although Forji seems to maintain a somewhat flirtatious relationship with fundamentalist Christianity, he launches a biting critique of white organized religion as it inter-relates with social class, race and colonialism.
This book is a powerful affirmation of the hope, pain and joy experienced by a man who excavates his childhood and youth honestly and courageously. He has more than fulfilled his stated aim to offer the reader “a testimony of some societal value” (p.227) and thus, I highly recommend this autobiography.
and I can't wait to see some of you writing a review to agree with me.