You wake up, on what is supposed to be the biggest day of your life, look in the mirror and can’t recognize yourself.
The image staring wide eyed at you doesn’t look anything like you. The only similarity between you and the image is that you both have the same height and build. Whereas you have black eyes, this person – impostor — has green eyes. And whereas your skin is dark, as black as ebony wood, this person is white. You look in the mirror and the reflection you see is that of a white man!
You freeze, horrified and stay rooted to the spot as you try to unravel this bizarre phenomenon. Several thoughts run through your mind. Chiefly is how to get to your interview that morning. For years following graduation from school, you haven’t gotten an interview despite several applications. You wonder flittingly why it had to be today that this kind of absurdity is happening.
Next, you think about your family, what to tell them, what their reaction would be, and how they will take the discovery. You are not sure of unconditional support, in fact, you fear that it would be the death of your mother.
Everything about you has changed overnight; the world beneath you is shifting rapidly and you have nowhere to place your feet.
You are sinking.
Welcome to the world of Furo Wariboko.
Furo is a young man, from Delta state who has lived all his life in Lagos. He is a graduate but hasn’t gotten any job years after leaving school. Finally, he got a job interview, and on the morning of the interview, he woke up to discover that he had changed into an ‘Oyibo’, a white man- with pale skin, green eyes and wavy hair.
With one exception
His ass has remained black, a stark contrast to his pale skin.
It is a living nightmare. Or so he thought. Life as a white man turned out to be a lot easier than he had expected. He began to see another side of Lagos he hadn’t previously seen: what it feels to be a white man in Lagos hinterland, what if felt like to be conspicuously different and to be treated to close scrutiny, the wide differences in service fees, and the advantages accruing to the white man.
He rides on this advantage and is able to finally get the life he has always wanted, but not without leaving a trail of broken hearts. Despite his outward transformation, he is a typical Nigerian through and through.
Furo Wariboko is the protagonist in the novel ‘Black ass’ by Igoni Barrett – listed as one of the top African authors under 40 by the Africa39 project. The story follows the sudden transformation of Furo Wariboko and the consequent effects on him and his family. It is set in Lagos and explores the Nigerian socio-political issues. It explores the theme of change, identity, and choices.
My favorite line in the novel was “it is easier to be than to become”. It is deep and rings so true, and on so many levels.
The book was one of the things I ‘gained’ from the Ake Book and Arts Festival. I saw so many great books and I went on a spending spree! I love buying books, and I couldn’t help myself at all. It has been a long time I did any book shopping – at least, paper backs anyway, I buy e-books all the time. (Now to read them is the big issue).
It is a good read, full of humor and wit, and interspersed with thought provoking lines. The writing style is refreshingly different and down to earth, and sometimes jarring with its colloquialism.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, your black ass.
Black ass, I mean.