Academic journal article African Studies Review

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

Article excerpt

Kris Holloway. Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali. Long Grove, III.: Waveland Press, 2007. xiii + 212 pp. Photographs. Maps. Bibliography. $17.95. Paper.

Heat, flies, friendship, cultural dffference, and acceptance-and die unremittingly common rhythms of daily births and deaths-are the images and stories told in this memoir of a former Peace Corps volunteer's two years in a rural village in Mali. The story is told as a first person narrative with engaging dialogue, though occasionally overly purposeful metaphors and descriptions remind us that she is all too aware of her audience. However, when the storytelling moves apace and the multiple minidramas unfold, the reader is drawn in and begins to share in the rise and fall of the narrator's own excitement, frustrations, joys, and pains.

The multiple themes and issues voiced in this narrative provide a useful point of dialogue and reflection for many audiences. Although the subtitle and a great deal of the story focuses on midwifery, and infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, the narrative goes further. For students or teachers of African studies or anthropology, Holloway incorporates information about kinship systems, religion and witchcraft, familial and traditional power relationships, and decision-making processes that affect marriages, jobs, women's status, child-bearing, and community self-help projects. Along with Holloway's own learning and appreciation for these cultural differences, we see her occasional impulse to rebel and challenge these cultural norms when she identifies a perceived injustice. Her actions allow us to reflect on our own personal narratives in the context of living or working in another culture: when do we interfere and "impose" our own cultural values and expectations of justice? Is cultural relativism more important than our personal moral codes? Are we cultural imperialists when we choose to speak out? How do we balance our impatience to see projects done quickly, on the one hand, with the community need to process and debate, on the other? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.