The eighteen linked short stories in The Moon’s Fireflies take us inside the experience of living as a foreigner in an African village. Adopted by two village boys, Effiong and Little Etim, the narrator is drawn into the life of the West African village of Akai Ison. He has been posted there to teach in the local school but spends most of his time learning.
In “Night Studies”, he begins to understand the West African magic called juju. It is a prominent theme in several other stories as well and through them we see that juju is not a collection of nonsensical superstitions but is a useful and important part of the lives of the villagers.
These stories are not only filled with insight, they are engaging stories in themselves. We share in the adventures and misadventures of the narrator as he gets mixed up with local matchmaking, tries to introduce out-of-season corn, and is required to embrace all the village women. “Shakespeare will debut in Akai Isong at noon,” he states at the beginning of “That Cassius,” and the disaster that follows proves both hilarious and profound.
This is an Africa we seldom see, an Africa of warm hospitality and tolerance, and the humanity and wisdom embodied in these stories lead us to examine our own lives and values. If you are interested in Africa, this book will turn you into a lover; if you love Africa, The Moon’s Fireflies is a feast.