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The African Child an overview.

Updated on May 25, 2013


The African Child is an autobiographical account of Camera Laye's childhood days in Kouroussa and Conakry. Read More of camera laye life story of one of Africa's great The novel was written in Paris, when Laye was nostalgic. His aim was to preserve his childhood memories while they were still fresh in his mind. But essentially, he wrote for pleasure. He believes that his novel would expose the rich cultural heritage of Africans, based on mysteries that are not understood by many Africans themselves.

He describes his experiences as a child in a chronological order, starting from infancy to the time he had to leave for France for further studies. He paints a beautiful picture of his father as a man of pre-eminence among all other men in the community, and his mother as a kind-hearted, tender but mysterious woman. He also describes in detail the different things that happened to him on his way to attainment of adulthood. These include his early days in school, his friendship with Check and Konyate and the unfriendly attitude of the big boys and the strict teachers. He recounts with nostalgia all the things that happened before he had admission in a technical college in Conakry. He excelled in his exams at the Technical College where he won a scholarship to study in France.

He also recounts his days of initiation and circumcision which were major land marks in his journey to adulthood. He does not forget to narrate the different experiences he had in Tindican, whenever he went there on holiday.
Laye also aims in The African Child to recall love as a great uniting influence in Africa. He shows the African's love for his neighbor, his people, and country; his love for nature and mankind; his love for God and the supernatural beings. That love, to him, is part and parcel of the African existence. That love, is independent of any foreign influence.

Aims of The African Child.

The Author's main aims for writing the book are:
* To record his childhood experiences
* To portray the beauty of African traditions
* To show his readers the mystery of Africa
* To demonstrate that love is an important aspect of African life.
What Some Critics say
In spite of the lofty aims of the novelist, some critics have identified a few things wrong with his manner of presentation.
* In the first place, the novel has been criticised as being an over-romanticized story of the African life to the extent that it has become a simplified account of Utopian Africa. Laye does not see anything wrong in the African world. But that sense of order he intends to present is rather idealistic than realistic.
* Again, Laye lays a lot of emphasis on himself. All the events circulate around him to the exclusion of every other person. He simply presents a simple story of himself in a very organized, district of Upper Guinea where he lived among his family members and friends.
* There is no mention of the influence of any outside influence like the effect of either Islam or Western education to which he was exposed at different times. There was no mention of the effects of colonialism which formed a topical issue at the time he wrote. The only time he talked about the evil effect of the outside influences was when he described the hardship he and other pupils had under the brutal headmaster of the primary school at Kouroussa. Though Guinea was a French colony, it appears most strong that no European was mentioned throughout the novel.


The novel is an autobiography which captured every aspect of Camera laye's childhood days in Kouroussa and his student days in Conakry. He presented the story in such a way that it appeared as if the events were happening in an ideal world.
The criticisms are as a result of the style of the novel. As an autobiography, the author selects only those things that interest him.


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      Okereke Jude Sampson 12 months ago

      Whats the Plot, Style and the Theme of this Novel "African Child" pls some one should help me out... My email: Thanks pals