Wake up and Smell the Fufu
Christian Njoya Diawara Small
The Njoya Foundation, 2007
Christian Njoya Diawara Small is no great writer.
His book, ‘Wake up and Smell the Fufu,’ whilst earnest about living as a volunteer in Africa, is no life changing literary colossus.
However, Christian’s story is all the more poignant because he was one of the people killed by a terrorist bomb on the London underground network on 7 July 2005.
‘Wake up and Smell the Fufu’ is a recollection of Christian’s days in Africa, primarily in Ghana, but also in nearby Cote D’Ivoire and Mali. The book began as letters and emails to family and friends in the UK and became a family project after his death.
Raised in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents, Christian clearly had a strong interest in understanding his African roots.
Initially, this desire fuels his early discoveries, and he is clearly proud of African achievements. But as he spends more time there and falls into the rhythm of daily life, he discovers an underside that all but makes him want to leave the continent.
Grinding poverty and bare faced greed question his belief in the connection he feels with his African brothers.
It is rare that we get to hear from a diasporan African about his African experience- too often that voice is overshadowed by Western influences, but Christian does his best to portray the reality of life there, whether it be his amazement at displays of affection between heterosexual men, his inability to find a good meal of chicken, or appreciating the perils of an outhouse.
Most movingly though, is his description of the fear he felt towards three Middle Eastern men on the same plane as him back to Ghana. His post 9/11 paranoia is palpable and even more disturbing in light of his own tragic death.