Houseboy, by Ferdinand Oyono
Toundi is a Cameroonian boy who is fascinated by his French colonizers. He escapes his abusive father by becoming houseboy to the head of the Mission, but when Father Gilbert is killed in a motorcycle accident, he goes to work for the local Commandant. He finds the Commandant, his wife, and the rest of his European masters alternatively intriguing and ridiculous. But through quiet observation he gets to know them well–too well for his own safety.
This is a short book, only 122 pages, but it packs a punch. It’s a critical look at colonialism, racism, and sexual politics through the eyes of a genuine and sympathetic narrator. Of particular interest to me is the way that colonialism forever changes and confuses Toundi’s perception of his own identity and that of his country and culture too, as in the end he asks “Brother, what are we? What are we blackmen who are called French?”
This may be a slim novella, but it’s weighty in substance and rich in thought. Recommended!