The Almond Tree
By Femi Ojo-Ade
Femi Ojo-Ade's new novel, The Almond Tree, uses the biographical format -the life of an African man- to address the dilemma of colonalism and neo-colonalism, as well as the complex question of nationhood.
Tha main character grows up in large family in which he becomes privileged, due to his accidental training in a colonial school. He becomes a civil servant in the white man's administration. He rolls with the punches inflicted be the racism and ethnic polarisation embedded in the colonial system. He starts his own family, with a wife who dies too soon, another woman that becomes his nemesis, and children whom he adores without, however, fully understanding them, or adequately playing the role of father.
At the societal level, the country attains independence without freedom, without progress, without becoming a nation. A meaningless civil war breaks out, and the hero's son is one of its causalties, just as another son travels abroad apparently without looking back. His daughters live to bury him, although they cannot be deemed to lead lives of happiness.
The almond tree is at once a symbol of life, and death. The continuity of a resilient culture represented by a closely knit family of survivors. The death of father, mother, and children, like that of the tree, cut down by those obsessed with modernity.
About the author: Formerly Professor and Head of Department of Foreign Languages at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, FEMI OJO-ADE is currently Professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, USA, where he has been pioneer Coordinator of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. An internationally recognized scholar of Black Literatures and Cultures, Ojo-Ade is also an award-winning creative writer.
In addition to many articles and essays, he has published eighteen books of criticism, fiction, and poetry. The long list includes:
- A. critical texts: ON BLACK CULTURE; BEING BLACK, BEING HUMAN; DEATH OF A MYTH: CRITICAL ESSAYS ON NIGERIA; KEN SARO-WIWA, A BIO-CRITICAL STUDY; LEON-GONTRAN DAMAS.
- B. fiction: HOME, SWEET, SWEET HOME (translated into Brazilian Portuguese as MAMA AFRICA); DEAD END; BLACK GODS; ONE LITTLE GIRL'S DREAMS.
- C. poetry: EXILE AT HOME.
- D. Ojo-Ade writes in several languages, including his native Yoruba, Englich, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. His first novel in French, LES PARADIS TERRESTRES, was recently co-published by African Heritage Press and Amoge Press.
More information on this writer may be obtaine at: http://www.smcm.edu
His creative works include:
- Dead End (2001)
- The Almond Tree (2000)
- Exile At Home (1998) (Honorable mention 1999 Association of Nigerian Authors/Cadbury prize for Poetry)
- Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Bio-Critical Study (1999)
- Black Gods (2002)
- One Little Girl’s Dream (wins Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for children’s Literature in 1999)
- Home Sweet Sweet Home (Translated into Portuguese)
- Death of a Myth: Critical Essays on Nigeria, Les Paradis Terrestres ( French 2003)
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