The Village of Waiting

by Tom Packer

This is the only book I know of by a former PCV about Togo. Too bad. Although Packer has some talent as a writer, his vision of Togo is ugly, even repulsive. Where many of us saw a nation with both flaws and charms, Packer goes out of his way to describe even the most benevolent scenes in a negative manner. Here are a few example:

A monkey's skull? If anything in the book reveals the writer's sophomoric attempts to project his own inability to adapt to Togo on his surroundings, it is this comparison. Of all the things a ball of fufu could be compared to in order to give a sense of its size (a cantelope, a round loaf of bread, even a bowling ball) the comparison to a monkey's skull is both absurd and offensive.

It should come as no surprise to the reader of this book that Packer quits his assignment before the end of his two years, for no reason he cares to articulate. It's a dirty trick for a teacher to abandon his students, but in Packer's case my guess is that they all breathed a sigh of relief. You may want to read this book because it is about Togo, but be prepared to be turned off by the writer's nasty attitude. My rating: ** (out of ****).

This book is (thankfully) out of print, although you may find it at larger libraries, especially at universities.

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