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Monday, September 02, 2013

An African In Greenland

Tété-Michel Kpomassie's book An African in Greenland might be the most extraordinary I have ever read. In it the author recounts his decision to discover the great north - Greenland - upon reading a book including a number of pictures on that same country while in a bookshop in his native Togo as an adolescent! The story simply seems absurd and the beginning of it consisting of an injury caused by a snake and the subsequent magical healing only contributes to the reader's confusion. Yet, Kpomassie who taught himself multiple languages is on an anthropological quest and after a whole number of years (something like 10) and with the help of many strangers turned friends and the odd job here, he succeeds in effectively becoming one of the first Africans ever to have graced the shores of Greenland.

His disrespectful descriptions of Europe as much as of his native Togo (Africa) as well as - and especially of course - Greenland allowed me to simply ignore the - again - seemingly absurd story line and simply take the book for what it is: a great read.

Tété-Michel Kpomassie apparently lives in France these days and still visits Greenland occasionally (his book was published in French in 1981), his is a bizarre tale about people, cultures, and how anthropologists (discoverers of human nature or culture one could also say here) may not only come from (white) Europe but anywhere else.

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