Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Reviewed by Ibironke Lawal, Engineering and Science Librarian
This collection of five short stories is electrifying and informative. In vivid language, the author tells the African stories of poverty, child slavery and human trafficking, religious persecution and intolerance, and genocide. What is so powerful about this book is that in all the stories, children are the victims, and they tell their own stories. The tragedy of Africa's children unfolds in this book. Though it is fiction, the events depicted in the stories are real. In poverty-stricken Africa, some children have to live on the streets, sniff glue to ward off hunger, and even prostitute to help their families. Again and again, children are victims of adults' greed and excesses. They are orphaned by A.I.D.S. because of their parents' indiscriminate unprotected sex and ignorance, and also by self destruction through religious war and genocide. Genocide is the most severe crime against humanity. Killing of parents by other family members is already an abominable act, but doing it in the presence of their children is unforgivable. The children in these stories know, if they survive, how to persevere, and they emerge from a life of tragedy to a life full of hope and aspirations. The children in Akpan's book are the heroes of our violent world.