Like a Lily Among Thorns
by Inno Chukuma Onwueme

"It was time for me to pay up. Flogging happened. Even I felt that I deserved it. But what else do you do with a careless frisky kid?"

The generation gaps that separate parents from their children and grandchildren can seem vast in a society that changes as rapidly as our own, but the expanse is widened exponentially when the parent comes from a radically different culture than the one his descendants have grown up in. To help rectify the problem in his own family but to also chronicle a land and way of life that have also altered greatly over the last several decades, the author has written an excellent memoir of his early years that is as informative as it is entertaining.

Born in 1944 in the Western Region of Nigeria, the author begins his story with memories of his life as a village boy in Colonial Africa. From the start the reader is catapulted into a world where the Catholicism of Onwueme's family exists in fragile peace with the Animism of neighbors and certain relatives, a land where young children run naked and cavort in the same stream where their mothers are washing clothes, dishes, and retting the starch from cassava, and where political rumblings against the Colonial powers are getting louder. After getting accepted into an overseas study program, the author leaves this life behind for the cultural transformation of America during the turbulence of the 1960s. On his return to his homeland via Europe in 1970, with a Ph.D. attached to his name, Onwueme is once again confronted with societal changes as he is greeted by a post-independence Nigeria that has recently emerged from civil war.

With superb narrative skills reminiscent of those his countryman Wole Soyinka used in his own autobiography, Onwueme recalls key moments from his life on three continents while offering valuable and insightful snapshots of the time period.

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