Reading New Caledonia: The Long Reprieve

Getting to know New Caledonia has been an incredibly gratifying experience. I so appreciate learning about a place that is entirely new to me; the land, the history, what people are currently dealing with…it’s all exciting, and humbling. What a world we live in – and there’s so much that we as individuals don’t know, even if we feel like we are seeking knowledge all of the time. The whole point of this blog has been to gain a better sense of this planet we all call home, and to be a better global citizen. Success on the first point, and always working on the second…

There’s so much to talk about! I’m still reading a book by Kanak author and activist, Déwé Gorodé, so that review will be a deeper dive into the issues her work highlights: the history of French rule, and the current-day complexities that brings to life on the islands, especially for the Kanak people.

But first – another cool thing! In a different way!
I found a book through my library that just blew me away; The Long Reprieve, and Other Poems from New Caledonia, by Hubert Creekmore.

The author was stationed on New Caledonia during World War II, when the US Navy had a base on the island. He wrote about the war, his perceptions of the landscape that he was experiencing, his interactions with the local people,and…a lot more. Mr. Creekmore was from a prominent Mississippi family, but his disdain for much of what that entailed is clear. He is blunt about racism,hypocrisy, and alienation. His clarity was probably influenced by the fact that he was a gay man from the American South, at a time when that was not in any way going to be accepted, or even acknowledged.

I really encourage you to check out this book, and journey with me in exploring his other work; he was also a novelist, and tackled the above subjects in much greater depth (at least from what I can tell from reviews). The culture that he sprang from did not see fit to celebrate his talents, but we can help reclaim that legacy; he deserves the acknowledgment.

 

Araucaria columnaris, native, L'Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia
Araucaria columnaris, native, L’Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia (image by my LifeShow from Paris, France)

Reading Ukraine: Borderland by Anna Reid

What a world we live in. So much we don’t know…but we can try to learn. Books are one of the best weapons in the battle to gain knowledge, especially something like Borderland, my selection for reading about Ukraine. Written by Anna Reid, a British journalist with work and family ties to the country, it’s an informative, well-researched, and very readable dive into the history and politics of a darkly complicated part of the world. It’s perhaps not the most in-depth resource out there but it’s an approachable one, and that’s a win when it comes to a place buried in tangled webs.

Written in 1997, it goes without saying that much has transpired since but after absorbing this book, you’re in a good spot to find out what’s happened next. Bonus for Americans: it’ll give you insight into the shenanigans of Paul Manafort and some other folks currently under investigation, and of Putin’s motives; it won’t make you feel any better, but at least you’ll have a solid framework of understanding…

View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine
View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine (Image by Balkhovitin via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Reading Uganda: Tropical Fish, Tales from Entebbe

The book I chose for Uganda was Tropical Fish, Tales from Entebbe by Doreen Baingana.

Such a good book! Well-written, great characters, a super solid sense of place; it’s everything you hope to find in a work of fiction, but so often don’t. I really enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.

The story is told through the viewpoints of three sisters. Their experiences of the world are all very different, but one common thread is that they are growing up during a time of conflict, doing the best they can to bring some normalcy to chaos. The setting is during Adi Amin’s rule, but the crazy-making by the people “in charge” could apply to anywhere, anytime.

Like now, for instance.

“The change was gradual and the result normal, like many other thing’s about Amin’s time, including the every day fear in the air. She remembered how everyone had laughed in astonishment then got used to it…
Everyone adjusted to the upside-down week, the upside down life, including other unbelievable and ugly things she didn’t want to think about. The bad smell had become familiar.”

Mount Khadam, Uganda
Mount Khadam, Uganda
(Image by Eright via Wikimedia Commons

Reading Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo

My choice for reading about Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo by Elvia Alvarado.

I had a draft post all set up and ready to go, but I just scratched it.

I’m an American, living in the USA, with the government of my country stopping people from Honduras at our border right now, ripping their children away, with no regard or understanding for what brought them here.

So, especially fellow Americans, here’s a book that you should read. It’s a story, straight from the source, about life in Honduras and the struggles that women face everyday as they fight for a more equitable existence. It gives you a direct, unfiltered line to meet someone’s humanity, at a time when the powers-that-be are trying very hard to turn you away from that.

So you Americans who really want to help the poor have to change your own government first. You Americans who want to see an end to hunger and poverty have to take a stand. You have to fight just like we’re fighting—even harder. You have to be ready to be jailed, to be abused, to be repressed. And you have to have the character, the courage, the morale, and the spirit to confront whatever comes your way.
– Elvia Alvarado

Honduran Girl
Honduran Girl (image via pixhere.com)