Biology Unmoored

Bamford, so far, is interesting.

Her style: juxtaposing two different places and people in each chapter  is both bold and innovative – at least in my eyes. I would call it “ambitious” when she tries to connect separate the two, via comparing different issues, to see the same thing:  their philosophies of life. She writes on the EuroAmerican and Kamea people.

From the reactions of EuroAmerica people on the expansion of technology to human reproduction – say, test tube babies, she attempts to argue that the view point emphasizes “blood” ties. There   is so much focus on “natural”, “biology”. Interesting, I never imagined, that there might have been such outcries in the past against test-tube babies!

tüp-bebek1Photo source:

Also interestingly she brings into sight how once  anti-GMO movements comprised of Euro-American people, who were afraid of “Frankestiens” and “zombies” taking over the world. They did not like the idea of messing with “nature”. Well, if we look at western imagination via Hollywood, I don’t think the fear of a scientific failure brining doom to humankind is still there. Anyways, after this recap, she juxtaposes this “conservative” view point, with the philosophy of the Kamea. They do not see relation as given, or natural. It is made. This affects their view on nature and their relation with environment.

Their origin myth, has it that people came from trees. Such philosophies that does not separate human and the environment is, she seems to indicate, the impetus for the people to actively continue through each generation. Eg: father plants trees for son, tells him stories of the journey of their ancestral that helps the son make his claim to land stronger.

franklin_trees_01Photo source:,29307,1731606_1566407,00.html

Missing link in this argument is, if the Kamea constantly moved, the story of which people still remember, and which fathers tell their sons, how did they become sedentary? Isn’t it ironic that they use travel stories to lay claim on a fixed point , to continue sitting down?

And how does gender fit in this? Well, while the sons are busy listening to stories, running around, familiarizing themselves of the land that would be theirs later, the daughter spends much of her time gardening, in fact she is apportioned a small plot since childhood. Is that it? More food for thought. The second irony is that the daughter is the one who gardens, spends so much time with the soil – literally but it is the son who get the  land. What is?


Half of Yellow Sun

It’s a fiction of when Barfia tries to separate from from Nigeria. It follows the story of twin sisters, each different and leading distinct experiences, what each of their family members go through, primarily their husbands, themselves and one of the sisters’ helper who later gets recruited in the army.

I am 90% done and I have no negative criticisms of the book yet, only that because I am new to the issue in Nigeria I am not able to follow it completely and I don’t think that is the fault of the writer at all. Ok, on the negative comment, may be the book is too thick and has a lot of chapters. It’s been more than two weeks since I started the book, dedicating almost an hour each day and yet it is not done! Ok, maybe I bunked my readings some days, but even then! When the read gets too long i.e. over a period of days, I think it loses it momentum to an extent. Oh, also maybe the writer could have chosen characters from the less elite to show their experience as well. Although he uses the helper boy turned army’s story, he misses out on the feelings, experiences of the subaltern people during war. He does show that the elite twins undergo drastic change in their life styles, nevertheless, it doesn’t reach the heart of the experiences of the poor.

As for the good thing, this book is written in a manner accessible to general public- no word plays and hi-fi language. Any medium English reader will understand. I also like the way, the writer tells his story through his main character, dedicating a chapter to each character, and then letting the story unfold.

More when I finish. Don’t know when that will be though.