Short Story: My Father’s Head
My Father’s Head is by Okwiri Oduor who was born in Narobi, Kenya. This story was very interesting because it started as a simple story of a women trying to remember and draw what her father looked like and not being able to remember his head. In the end she summons her father back so she can remember but then he does not leave and she is forced to face all the memories she has of him and her childhood. This story becomes not so simple but rather one about the traditions of the past and what being a part of a family meant during life but also in death. I liked how Oduor wrote the story in English but still included many swahili words and phrases that have Kenyan origins, thus reflecting Achebe’s idea of using a “new English”. For example she includes the song,
“Kijembe ni kikali, param-param
Kilikata mwalimu, param-param”
As an english speaker, I do not know what these words mean (except Mwalimu which means teacher, but only because I am taking Swahili). But it does not deter me from the text because I accept that is part of her life that I cannot understand. It reminds me that I am reading a story that is much more complex than how my brain wants to categorize it and that is cannot be just summed up to another story about Africa.