Author: A. Igoni Barrett
A review by Charlotte Akello
What if you woke up one morning to find that you had become the opposite of who you are? Or had become who you dreamt of or perhaps even stayed in your dream?
This is Furo Wabioko’s dilemma when he wakes up in a white skin on the morning of a job interview. He leaves home before anyone sees him however his new skin colour becomes an advantage. He doesn’t have to wait in line for the interview and is given a higher position than what he had originally applied for. He receives better job offers, within the same month, without much effort just because these companies wanted to have an oyibo, one not culturally African, in their companies. However he is not prepared for the stares at the roadside, or the buka, the over hiked taxi prices and the runs girl who thinks he has money to offer.
The climax of ‘the transformation’ is when he has to change his name to Frank Whyte, a ‘white name’, perhaps to fit into his new body and to stop the stares when he mentions a Nigerian name in a white skin. According to Furo, this is enough to camouflage his previous life as a black man but he is wrong as many people were shocked by his Nigerian accent and Pidgin.
Syreeta, who wants a mixed race child, notices his black ass (the only black part of him) that betrays the person he is. Syreeta falls pregnant and Furo, thinking she wants to stop him leaving, advises her to abort. In the midst of this Furo meets Igoni the person who knows about his past, present and family.
The author highlights a true reflection of today’s younger society as Furo’s sister is continuously distracted by the need for social media popularity rather than the loss of her brother. Igoni Barrett highlights the fact that in any ordinary society the colour of ones skin automatically determines a lot, ranging from the food one should eat, the people one should associate with, the environment one should live in, the jobs people secure, their social class and how they talk.
Race is a societal stamp.
The language is simple and makes the book a page turner. The Nigerian pidgin in the dialogue gives the book a touch of African English. The book brings out the unjust ‘societal norms’ in a playful way. It is an eye opener to issues we have become comfortable with like racial discrimination and bribery, as seen at the passport office.
Blackass grips you right from the first line through to the last. The book is one of the most superb and realistic works ever written.