4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Having failed to see the circumcision ceremony which marks the men of the Dowayo tribe transition from child to adulthood when he was there previously, Barley hears that it is due shortly to take place. Hot-footing it out to Cameroon again, he heads back to the village to see if he can witness this first hand. Re-installed in his square hut, that has been carefully ‘guarded’ by Zuuldibo, he picks up life there once again. It was almost like he had never been away, the friendly familiar faces popped by hoping for him to be a generous as he was the first time he visited…
However, details on the wince-inducing process of circumcision, like where it was going to take place and when, are very elusive so whilst waiting for the nod that it was on, he finds other things to do to fill the time. One on the list to do was a visit to the neighbouring Ninga tribe. It was said that the men did not have any nipples, but he felt that he needed to see this for himself and to endeavour to elicit some of the reasons behind this practice. However, his assistant, Matthieu continued to advise against travelling to this other village, but he persisted and finally got to meet the chief. He understood Barley’s desire to learn the customs of the village, but payment would be required; perhaps a large sum of francs for a goat?
This mini-adventure along with taking a primate to the cinema, the possibilities of solar power, a novel repair to his teeth, seeing the response of the village when the UN showed a short film about the perils of malaria and the influx of insects that gave the book its title. It has the same sharp wit of the previous book where we were first introduced to the Dowayo, but with a few more funny anecdotes and is a Thoroughly enjoyable sequel to his first book Like with all societies, what seems barbarous and cruel to us, is a way of life to another people. In the same way, a lot of our routines and habits are equally strange and mysterious to them and the humour that lies in the cracks and fissures of misunderstanding.