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A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt: An African Memoir [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Toyin Omoyeni Falola

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Kurzbeschreibung

29. November 2005
Winner of the President's Distinguished Leadership and Scholarship Award from the Association of Third World Studies and the E.J. Alagoa prize from the West African Oral History Association A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt gathers the stories and reflections of the early years of Toyin Falola, the grand historian of Africa and one of the greatest sons of Ibadan, the notable Yoruba city-state in Nigeria. Redefining the autobiographical genre altogether, Falola miraculously weaves together personal, historical, and communal stories, along with political and cultural developments in the period immediately preceding and following Nigeria's independence, to give us a unique and enduring picture of the Yoruba in the midtwentieth century. This is truly a literary memoir, told in language rich with proverbs, poetry, song, and humor. Falola's book is far more than the story of one man's childhood experiences; rather, he presents us with the riches of an entire culture and community - its history, traditions, pleasures, mysteries, household arrangements, forms of power, struggles, and transformations.

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

"... a rich and often profoundly beautiful book.... There's little doubt that within the growing body of African autobiographical literature, this book is going to stand high." - Sunday Independent (South Africa)"

Synopsis

Winner of the President's Distinguished Leadership and Scholarship Award from the Association of Third World Studies and the E.J. Alagoa prize from the West African Oral History Association A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt gathers the stories and reflections of the early years of Toyin Falola, the grand historian of Africa and one of the greatest sons of Ibadan, the notable Yoruba city-state in Nigeria. Redefining the autobiographical genre altogether, Falola miraculously weaves together personal, historical, and communal stories, along with political and cultural developments in the period immediately preceding and following Nigeria's independence, to give us a unique and enduring picture of the Yoruba in the midtwentieth century. This is truly a literary memoir, told in language rich with proverbs, poetry, song, and humor. Falola's book is far more than the story of one man's childhood experiences; rather, he presents us with the riches of an entire culture and community - its history, traditions, pleasures, mysteries, household arrangements, forms of power, struggles, and transformations.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  8 Rezensionen
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen What A Great Piece! 8. September 2004
Von Mike Olaf - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Falola's memoir, A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt, is a "must read" for anyone seeking to gain deeper and serious insights into the mind of the true African child. The author gives the reader a breath taking, bird eye view of the cultural panorama of the Yoruba society, and the implications of growing up in its most complicated and sophisticated city of Ibadan. The uniqueness of this book lies in its ability to transcend academic and cultural boundaries. It is as good a history book as it is a novel; social scientists will find it valuable and educators will find it to be of great relavance. It is a story of life and of living. It is indeed a celebration of youth and its rites of passage. Humor, wit, and readability add color and lucidity to all pages of this book. Wild, weird, wide, and even scary at times, this is a memoir that will stand the test of time.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Listening to the elders 18. Oktober 2006
Von Friederike Knabe - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Growing up in Nigeria in the years around independence provides good material for a personal memoir. These must have been extraordinary times, full of hope and expectation for the emerging new country. For a growing teenager though, the issues were closer to home. Falola, well known scholar of African history, has used his personal experiences to create a rich innovative kind of memoir that combines his growing up during that time with events in his community and the country as a whole. The resulting book gives the reader vivid insight into a complex society with its intricate traditions, in particular those of the Yoruba culture. Falola writes an easy accessible style, often addressing the reader directly. He demonstrates his narrative skill and an ability to impart local events with gracefulness and humour. He demonstrates how the use of proverbs, idioms and traditional imagery has remained part of everyday discourse by interweaving sayings into his narrative. "A proverb is regarded as the 'horse' that carries words to a different level, investing them with meanings...".

Falola's account suggests that he was already at the age of 10 a curious youngster and an astute observer of people, relationships and events. His early fascination with trains led him to experiences beyond his age level that were to influence his standing in his family and community. After an unplanned train ride and its aftermath, that created upheaval in the family, he was transplanted to another branch of his family in a more rural sector of Ibadan, the city-state in Nigeria's south-western region. Not having taken notice of the hierarchical structure of his polygamous family, he realized only then which of his "mothers" is his birth mother. There he also learned to connect with the rich traditions of the local people who have maintained much closer links to their past than those in the urban centre. For example, children are given an additional name by the family, a praise name (oriki). This name should establish a link to a real or imaginary hero of the past. Such names should enhance the young person's deep character and his ambition to emulate the past bearer. Like a young detective he tracks an old woman, different from any he had seen in the neighbourhood. When he is finally confronted by her, the outcomes are an important lesson for his life and future. These early influences shape his thinking into his adult life.

While the chapters stand as independent stories or essays, they flow together easily as a portrait of a person in his time and place. He merges the memories of his childhood with his comprehension of circumstances as an adult. Understanding of his roots and the culture instilled in him led him to study the cultural traditions of the Yoruba people and the history of the land. His reflections on how the two religions, Islam and Christianity managed to co-exist with the rich African traditions are as pertinent today as they were during the sixties. So is his criticism of the trend among the younger generation to denigrate their own culture in the face of western influences. [Friederike Knabe]
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Phenomenal 14. April 2009
Von Jackson Twain - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Wow. Just, wow. In short, this is a great read for anyone who wishes to understand the context and culture surrounding the greater African independence movements of the last century.

To be honest, I wasn't too keen on this book at first. I thought it was cumbersome and almost redundant. The more I read, however, I realized that the style which Falola writes is something to be savored. Too often do we read books simply to get to the next word, sentence, page, chapter. Sorry for the corny cliche, but I think it applies here: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to this book.

At first, the only parts of the book I enjoyed were the periodical African idioms and sayings. When I finally reached a point to where I could examine the totality of the message, I realized that interspersed in these memoirs is a much deeper understanding of Africa during a time of abrupt transition from a traditional culture to a foreign/forced modern one.

If at first you start to lose interest, keep reading. It's definitely worth it.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Historian's Fascinating Account of African Childhood 20. August 2004
Von Seeking Divine Guidance d ivine guidanace - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Toyin Falola's "A Mouth Sweeter than Salt" is a memoir of the first 13 years of his life in Nigeria. Readers will find a fascinating account of his upbringing in an extended family which was Christian, but polygamous, influenced by English colonialism, but more by Yoruba tribal traditions. Fascinated by trains, he recklessly boarded one as an adventurous youth and found himself stranded in a far-away Muslim city, where he supported himself as a "stick-man" guiding a beggar who faked blindness. Returned to his family by benevolent postal workers, he subsequently aided his grandfather in trying - unsuccessfully - to combat the abuse of a poor farmer by corrupt and exploitive tribal leaders. All in all, this book affords insights into African childhood which will absorb the interest of anyone previously familiar only with American or European experience.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An Excellent Piece of Self and Cultural Representation 3. August 2004
Von A. A Agbali - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is an excellent piece of work, written by the versatile and prolific Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas at Austin. This work is ordered as an autobiographical memoir of Toyin's growing up in Ibadan, Nigeria, and his various stories representing as sub-texts within the larger scheme of his memorial recall. In fact, for a man who grew up holding his first job as an "Almajiri," a "stick boy" (p.67) this makes his life successes even all the more intriguing. The fascination that took Professor Falola as a boy to Ilorin on a train, only to be stranded also casts his own life journey as an "Emere" (p.72-3), and motivational ascendancy to intellectual and personal fame. His love of independence and adventure has benefited not only himself, but as represented in this book, the African universe, as well as the American landscape where he has continued to journey and make enviable contributions specifically to academic scholarship and fundamentally toward human development.

This piece is much more than autobiographical, it is amply ethnographical, Yoruba, Nigerian and African. It respledently represent and portray the elegance of Professor Falola. His humorous, and intellectual self comes alive in this book. Professor Falola in real life is energetic and lively, and this book actually reflects his person, personality, intellectual, and social identities. Humorous, it is creative, and vitally introduces a new literary genre, that interactively admixes various literary strands to image the representation of the self, revealing an indepth ethnography, and functions socially as a literary critic of tradition and modernity, especially its contents and malcontents.The book is virulently intriguing, eccentric and highly delighting.

It is a delightful and fantastic book to read. When I first began to read it, I did so in earnest. I picked it around 4pm and could hardly drop it, managing to go to bed around 4am.
I simply couldn't let go of the exciting contents as much as I tried. This is the best of any book that I have read for a very very long time. It is a classic- believe me- and the literary genre is unique. Paul Onovoh's comparison to the weaver bird amply describes this though not totally capturing its full soul. The book does a lot to portray different elements that constitute the actual and imaginary fabric of the African universe. It depict themes of cogent relevance. Falola is a man of adventure, and genius. From his days as "Emere" and "Were" Professor Falola is nuanced as a person whose adventurous spirit and genius has done much to serve humanity, and the academic universe excellently.

Professor Falola, a historian liked from early on to tell stories (p.91). In this book he tells many enriching stories. Apart from the stories he tells, he critically offers analysis and insights into his diverse storied themes. The book reveals gender relationships and power, noting the mystical and real power of women. One of those mystical women was Leku, a mysterious and mystical woman whose spiritual and social power defies the myth of feminine lack of authority within the African universe (pp. 170-76, 187-193). Leku reifies the spiritual and social power of African women. The divorced women, Dalemosu as they were called, were influential and enormous powerful in the social conditioning and ordering of the family and marital relationship and institution, controlling these through their counseling and politics of marriage (p. 161).

Prof. Falola also images the serene and ecumenical inter-faith relationships that existed in his native homeland. The Yoruba world, and Falola's environment is one of respect and cogenial interactive relationship and participation between adherents and practicioners of the various religious legacies (p.238-245). Religious events and festivities were celebrated with adherents of the different faith expressions partaking and wishing the celebrating faith adherents well. Such events served social and psychosocial functions of creating cosmic harmony, and spiritually served as anchor through diurnal trubulence. All this today is much of a far-cry from that era in an environment where religious acrimony, rioting and hostilities continues to expand, driving a wedge between adherents of different faith, and creating a gulf between them in their interactions.

Memory, in deed, has ethereal and eternal qualities as it impact mnemonic recalling, making alive the past in the present, and for the future.This book recalls the changing memory and realities of a person, and those of his Yoruba, Nigerian and African roots, and experiences. It echoes the different phases of social and individual transitions and transformations. In this task Professor Falola is at his humorous and excited best. A lot of time and energy was channeled into the production of this wonderful book, I sometimes wonder how in the world such a thorough and unique piece was conceived.

This book will remain one of the best literary and autobiographical form that would emerge from an African perspective that is ethnographically rich, spiritually ensouling, personally ennobling, and succinctly precise, descriptive, at best representational of the joncular, reflective, socializing and intellectual Toyin Falola. Other encapsulating themes comes alive in the concepts of "Emere", the predating and vicious "Osomalo"your ideology and the transformations that has ruptured the traditional fabric of the Yoruba universe are encoded in this piece. Prof. Falola examines much of the themes of his memoir alongside the social, political and economic transformations that began with European adventurism. He focuses on change, and notes the different phases of changes he, himself, had undergone.

Prof. Falola has done a wonderfully splendid job. However, his creative weaving of themes sometimes seems to digress and transverse different vignettes though in fact reconnecting these strands latter might seem laborious to those who are not conversant with similar genre in Yoruba traditional literary scheme. However, this is not a weakness, Falola writes froma genre that is true to self, he writes using his Yoruba cultural self. In fact, Yoruba presents such genre in the praise poems called Oriki. Again, I had wished that Professor Falola had used this book to tell his full story, nonetheless, I look forward to his future autobiographical rendition, detailing his professional, and especially his diasporic journey(s).

I find this book very useful, and elements of it are very illumining, and would surely illuminating aspects of my own intellectual and cultural imaginations. This book is a must read, and I highly recommend it to all readers. I find it excellently written, focused, and rich in its representations. I recommend it for another reason, namely that many times readers get to know the history and subleties that define certain authors. Authors and scholars are shaped by their stories and histories, Prof. Falola influence predominates in American scholarship on African cultural and historical phenomena and experiences. It is worth knowing the man whose name is alive on dried inks on many of his books. Again, this time the dry inks will bring a man alive to us, to our mind, and intellectual consciousness. Professor Falola is a man and a mind worth knowing.
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