Life of Pah̩ РA Graphic Novel on African Myths

This month’s Words Without Borders has a special issue on graphic novels from around the world.

I loved this short extract from series by Pahé (Patrick Essono) whose childhood experiences bring to life two myths. One the myth of a Europe with streets of gold and the other, the myth of returning to the glorious homeland.

The story starts with Pafe as a little kid in his small town in Gabon, playing with his friends, sharing in the stories of relatives returning from far off places and dreaming of going to France. His dream comes true and off he goes with his family to Paris where he is the only Black kids in the class. Here he has to endure the racist mockery from his white class mates. The irony is back in school in Gabon, he is once again introduced to his class mates, this time as Mr Frenchy to which all the kids start shouting “whitey” “whitey” but the taunting doesn’t stop there. Eventually tired of the “slaughter” he challenges another kid to a fight which he looses and has to return home feeling ashamed having got his face “rearranged”.