Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Imbolo Mbue’s ‘How Beautiful We Were’ Exposure to the Human Cost of Capital

A group of national soldiers asked questions about their whereabouts until the villagers of Kosawa kidnapped the representatives of Paxton. It is one of the first – and least violent – narratives of confrontation between the state and the village, and the myriad of ways in which the residents of Koswa must plan to escape the wrath of the government that completely wiped them out. Will not think of anything. . In the months and years that follow, villagers will do everything possible to get the oil company out of their land. They meet an American journalist, hoping that an article might turn public (ie, Western) sentiment in their favor; They travel to the capital to beg the national government; They consider raising arms.

[ Read an excerpt from “How Beautiful We Were.” ]

In Kosawa, Mbuy has created survivors with a location and emotional range. There is no consensus among the villagers as to what to do – whether to free their Paxton hostages after falling seriously ill; Is it to lie to the jawans; Whether to take oil money or not; Whether to buy guns or not. The central moral and philosophical conflict of this novel boils down to one from among those who are ready to trust Paxton, who is right, who wants to support the support of well-meaning American activists and those between There is no difference. “Someday, when you are old, you will see that the people who came to kill us and those who run to save us are the same,” says Konga. “Their pretense does not matter, they all arrive here believing that they have the power to take from us or give us whatever will fulfill their wish.”

The story unfolds at alternate points from individual villagers – most fully realized that Thula, a young girl who eventually becomes a guide for Kosva’s resistance movement – and a chorus of children. At their best, the choral chapter has the same influence as Julie Oduka’s collective voice of the bride in the seaBuddha in the attic, “A sense of hardship that has yet to be personally encountered. But over the course of 360 pages, the constant returns to this collective voice become a bit cumbersome. While describing individuals within their own group, the child strange phrase” our age -Sathi “so that eventually I don’t notice it. Many times, individual and collective narratives step on each other’s toes, repeating similar events and memories in such a way that they become more and more Let’s repeat.

But these are minor oddities, and easily given the novel’s aggressive appeal to the reader’s sympathy. MBU specializes in cinematography in places where greed and guilt arise: the loneliness that occurs after the spouse’s initial death, and the latent desire to be touched again on his or her heels; Discount in between fighting Americans or taking their money. Like Carolina de RobertisCantoras“Or Huzama Habib’s” Velvet, “” How Beautiful We Were “charts the suppression of, whether it is in the hands of government or corporation or society, can turn the most basic human needs into radical and radical actions. Novel In a more nuanced and moving section of K, Thula’s grandmother, now nearing the end of her life, confesses one of her regrets about her marriage that she has adopted her husband for grief; Is that she laughed more. “Why did this world become entertaining,” she asks, “only when I realized I was going to leave it?”

Paxton, one of the increasingly drawn characters of the oil group, Paxton, becomes indifferent to these appeals to humanity, for the human consequences of his actions in and around Kosva. The indifference of the way collides aggressively against the public relations of Paxton – many hollow declarations of support for the village and the loved ones of the dead – that would make anyone ever familiar with these changes in the real world a witness. Off the coast of West Africa or in the sinking oil country of southern Louisiana. So authentically Mbue embodies the plain hypocrisy of corporate double-speak that sometimes it is difficult to tell if even Pexton’s own employees are believing in anything they are saying. At one point in the novel, a Paxton executive visits the village with a proposal, after being forced by an American activist group to decide to sue the oil company, to clean up the land and water of Kosawa Comes. The company says that it has decided to give the villagers a share of the profits from their land, although they cannot say what the exact percentage will be. “You have to remember, Pexton has a lot of people who want its money,” he says. “The government in America wants some of it. The government here wants their share. All those people who work for Pexton require their monthly salary. But your part is also very important, because we live in this valley together, and we should do so in peace. “The executive then says that his employer advises villagers what to do with their new money, such as using it to move it elsewhere.

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