Ivory Coast RPCV Tony D'Souza writes: "Djamilla, the unmarried daughter"
"The girl stopped in her tracks, surprised to see me. I had never before been alone in the village in this way: in the daytime, the time when the village belonged to women. She was tall and slender, old colonial coins hammered into a necklace that hung over her collarbones, strings of amber beads hanging from her long earlobes. Her lips were tattooed around with black ink, and her hair was woven into tight plaits, coins arranged again in them. Of course I knew who she was: Djamilla, the Peul patriarch’s unmarried daughter. She would have been considered beautiful anywhere." Read more.
Laura Miller reviews "Whiteman" by Tony D'Souza
Somehow, this novel beats the odds: It manages to be quirky, seductive and funny, but most of all it has captured a shard of the host country in a way that NGO novels rarely do. The Ivory Coast village that young Jack Diaz lives in for a couple of years feels more real than Jack himself -- which may sound like an artistic weakness, but it's not. Africa, or rather this small corner of Africa, gets so thoroughly under Jack's skin that he forgets to make this the story of how he was tested and learned the true nature of love, loss, want and independence, all those tedious lessons that would make the novel a routine coming-of-age saga about an earnest young man. Instead, "Whiteman" is really the story of an addict, a guy who gets hooked on a village, and of how he's finally forced to kick the habit. Read more.
Tony D'Souza writes: Ivory Coast, 2000
"I was in Abidjan in 2000, shortly after General Robert Guei’s bloodless Christmas Eve coup, which eventually helped to usher in the bloodshed of the past six years in Ivory Coast. At the time, there was a small contingent of United States Marines in the city—the U.S. Embassy Guard. They were housed in a spacious apartment in a downtown high-rise in the Plateau district. I was in my first year with the Peace Corps, and whenever I was granted a break from my posting in the bush I’d travel to the city, to a Peace Corps-run hostel that was always crowded with volunteers. Now and again, eager to spend time with the white women among us, the marines would invite us over. They were well provisioned: alcohol, air-conditioning, and all the latest magazines, CDs, and DVDs. When they called, we’d round up a couple of cabfuls of the willing, and then happily dig into the marines’ top-shelf goods. The women needed little coercing—they enjoyed the Snickers bars, People magazines, and Bacardi as much as anybody." Read more.