Sunday 12 June 2016

Yoruba Girl Dancing, 1991, Simi Bedford ***

1950, Nigeria is on the edge of independence, Remi's father wants her daughter to be one of the leaders of the country and so decides to send her to England to get a proper English training. That is the story of Remi, Yoruba Girl Dancing, the trauma of her uprooting at the age of 6 from her sunny home in Lagos to a gloomy, cloudy and rainy England.

...Then as the sound of her footsteps retreated, fueled by undiluted terror, I started to scream. Nobody came. Eventually I fell asleep. I was six years old and I had been in England four days.

Remi, is left in boarding School in England for a whole six years without contact with
any of her family members. She starts to forget, her past finally seems like a dream and starts to drift away to the extent that she couldn't recognise her father when he visits her for the first time after 6 years;
"They watch me approach in silence and gravely, in silence, we studied each other. Then I put out my hand and looking from one to the other said brightly in my best English, "How do you do, which one of you is my father?"
She begins to embrace her new identity. However, no matter how English she tries to become, the colour of her skin always betrays her. I believe she later realises as she grows into a woman that she would always be a Yoruba girl dancing no matter what.

I did not enjoy the novel as much as I thought would. However, I must say it is an insightful read that narrates on the situation of many families during pre-independnce Nigeria, it also narrates on the first batch of Nigerians who left to study abroad and paved the way for the rest. The novel is very well written, there is no doubt that Simi Bedford knows what she was up to when she started writing the novel, by the way, part-autobiographical. I recommend if you are looking for a literary read.

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