Review: The African child by Camara Laye

10 Aug

Perhaps this is the second best written African book that I have read recently, after Alan Paton’s Cry the beloved country. Set in Guinea, Laye takes us on a fun-filled, nostalgic journey into his boyhood life in one of the villages in his country. The result is something special; portraying the African community in the pre-colonial era.

 He presents the customs and beliefs of his people in the context of the day-to-day life as seen through his eyes. His approach endears the reader to the boy’s parents and his friends and his life in general. He alternates his home as a child between his home in Kouroussa and his grandmother’s home in Tindican. He goes to school, watches the fields with his friends, participates in the harvest, etc.

At fifteen, he undergoes the rite of circumcision, the sign of entrance into manhood. After this, he acquires his own hut.

Thereafter, he goes to Conakry for technical studies, befriends Marie, who becomes his girlfriend. He goes back home for his holidays. He wins a scholarship to study in France, extremely sad to leave all that he loves behind.

Published in 1954 as L’Enfant Noir and appearing in English the following year, The African child is a great read. It is considered one of the best novels to come out French-speaking Africa.



10 Responses to “Review: The African child by Camara Laye”

  1. nyashasam August 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Awesome!!!! I am always looking for great Africans reads and after Alan Paton and Chinua Achebe, there’s not much else that people recommend. Thanks!! There are two other books I would recommend that give a different perspective to growing up in Africa (Southern Africa that is). Mpho’s Search by Sandra Braude and Mukiwa by Peter Godwin

    • mary August 13, 2012 at 7:34 am #

      Thanks!!! I am more motivated to review those African authors that so few people know about, yet are so good!
      I will check out your suggestions….

  2. phui August 13, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    I will definitely try to get this one! You are lucky you can get so many books without a hustle. In our school library, they do not have so many of African writers.

    • mary August 13, 2012 at 7:35 am #

      What a pity that Africans don’t appreciate African literature! Let’s do something to change this!!!!!!!

  3. employee accident report form January 7, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

  4. Ssemakula Sharif Ahmad May 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Indeed that book is tourching

  5. CAZKID July 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm #


  6. Debby March 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you very much for reviewing this novel God bless you

    • mary June 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      You are welcome, Debby

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