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What might have been a sad tale of hardship and exploitation turns instead into a fascinating send-up of life in modern Africa, thanks to Hawa's smarts, savvy, and ear for telling just the right story to make her point. Through her wide-open and knowing eyes, we get an inside view of what life is really like for young people in West Africa. We spy on nightlife scenes of sex and deception; we see how modern-minded youth deal with life in the cities in villages; and we share the sweet and sometimes silly friendships formed in the streets and bars.
But mostly we come to know Hawa and how she has navigated a life that few can even imagine. The first of two funny, poignant volumes, Hustling starts with an in-depth introduction by Chernoff to Hawa's Africa. From there the book traces her remarkable transformation from a playful warrior struggling against her circumstances to an insightful trickster enjoying and taking advantage of them as best she can.
Part coming-of-age story, part ethnography, and all compulsively readable, Hustling Is Not Stealing is a rare book that educates as thoroughly as it entertains.
"You can see some people outside, and you will think they are enjoying, but they are suffering. Every time in some nightclub, you will see a girl dressed nicely, and she's dancing, she's happy. You will say, 'Ah! This girl!' You don't know what problem she has got. Some people say that this life, it's unto us. It's unto us? Yeah, it's unto me, but sometimes it's not unto me. When I was growing up, I didn't feel like doing all these things. There is not any girl who will wake up as a young girl and say, 'As for me, when I grow up, I want to be ashawo, to go with everybody.' Not any girl will think of this."—from the book
Winner - 2004 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing
Excerpted from Hustling is Not Stealing: Stories of an African Bar Girl by John Miller Chernoff Copyright © 2003 by John Miller Chernoff. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Part 1: Into the Life
1. Not Bad as Such Like a Letter The Village of Don't-Go-There More Aunts A Brief Adolescence Junior Wife
2. The Life Paradise Hotel Cheap Money The Price of Tea Janet's Baby The Problem of Being Small Married without a Ring Reflections: After the First Year as Ashawo
3. Problems of Self-Empowerment Repaying Rough with Rough The Lebanese Twins Deviant Sex Really Deviant Sex Wounds What No Girl Says Butterfly Wings The Man with Four Noses Case Histories
Part 2: With the British in a Provincial Capital
4. The Chief of Bagabaga Nigel's Courtship The Two Wives of the Chief of Bagabaga Jack Toronto Roads Not Taken
5. Fucking English People William and Abena Reflections: Property and Family Power Show for Cigarettes Cool-Catch-Monkey Nigel's Mouth A Beating among Friends
Part 3: Into the Life Again
6. Avoiding the Life A Ghanaian Boyfriend Reflections: An Independent Life
7. With Jacqueline Into the Life Again At Podo's House The Turkey-Tail Man
8. A Bad Sickness The Treatment Love and the Banana
Part 4: Juju
9. The Sheer Ubiquity of It Issahaku's Medicine Christmas for a Juju The Keta Girls and the Seaman
10. Witches Witchfire Babies as Strangers The Witchcraft of the Senior Mother Belief in Witches Befriending a Witch Interlude: A Special Child Befriending a Witch (Conclusion)
Revenge of a Bedwetter
11. Child of the God A Wonderful Man Pennies in the Hair Interlude: Village Playtime Return to the Village From Frying Pan to Fire Reckoning with the God
12. Black Power Calling the Lost People The Master of the Dwarves Showing the Power
Part 5: The Life in Togo
13. A Fast Boy The Rich Biafran Frankie and Antonio Frankie's Game
14. A Nice Prison in Togo Django and the Fucking Germans Interlude: The Maidservant's Tale Louky's Problem Prisoners for the Lions If All the Prisons Were like This Fish from the Sea in Vaginas Coda
15. I Remember Mama Drunkards The Trouble with Three Friends Quarreling in Secret Killer Girls from Ghana Epilogue Glossary
Posted June 21, 2004
John M. Chernoff's Hustling is Not Stealing is a unique and highly enjoyable insight into a woman who would too often be viewed in stereotypes or lost in statistics about the hand-to-mouth existence of people in what used to be called the Third World. Chernoff focuses upon the life of this woman, Hawa, describing her as small, cute, and a gifted storyteller. She becomes vividly real as she tells her tales of life as a bar girl, doing what she needs to do to survive -- and with great humor, dignity, and style! Chernoff begins with a comprehensive and fascinating introduction, which places Hawa's experience in the broad context of African realities, also explaining his own years in Africa as a student of ethnomusicology and of the social milieu in which Hawa's adventures take place. The reader is drawn in, sometimes laughing, sometimes appalled, often both at the same time. Hawa is frequently hassled by poverty and by those seeking to exploit her. But she laughs her irresistible laugh -- hee hee hee -- and gets her own back. She is no victim! As she travels through Ghana, Togo, and Burkina Faso, one gets a sense of excitement and fun, despite the hard times and dangers. Hawa comes off as a very admirable woman, and Chernoff's book is a real pleasure. His valuable scholarship is matched by his humanity. As you peek into Hawa's world, she comes unforgettably to life and becomes a friend. This book is priceless! I loved it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2004
A young contemporary Ghanaian tells her deeply sad story with strength and detail and in a voice that inspires instant respect. The tough iron of the human will emerges as Hawa rises up from the ashes of penury and abandonment and makes her way in a world that is indifferent at best, and much more amusing than one would think possible under the circumstances. Sociologist and ethnographer John Chernoff sets the stage for Hawa's unique oral history by sharing his love for the people of Africa today and by urging us to put aside our sentimentalities and preconceived notions. He, and Hawa, speak of an Africa that very few of us have ever known - a surprising and fascinating place that requires being street smart and savvy, and where a new generation of Africans is now blending western culture with ancient traditions. A must read for anyone who wants to better understand what it means to grow up in Africa today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.