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Babes in the Jungle: A Year of Village Life in the Niger Delta [Paperback]

David Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 Sep 2006
Rats in the rafters, lizards in the store room, and soldier ants advancing purposefully through the yard towards the house - millions of them. Babies under threat from a twin taboo, a neighbour engaged in illegal activity, and a "corpse" that climbed a palm tree. These were some of the adventures and misadventures that befell the author and his family during an eventful year in a village in the Niger Delta 40 years ago. And all against the backdrop of two military coups and increasing political tension that eventually led up to the Biafra war.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse UK DS (12 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1425958486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1425958480
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,998,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

David Clark was a research student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London when he went to Nigeria in 1965 to learn a hitherto unwritten language called Ekpeye. Based on letters and diaries written at the time he has provided a racy account of the year he and his family spent there. This unique snapshot of the time and place combines unpredictable people and situations with cross-cultural hiccups and snippets of history in a book that mixes humour and pathos, courage and skulduggery in a lively and entertaining cocktail.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback
Having temporarily mislaid my copy I shall review this book from memory, (an interesting exercise.) A friend recommended this book; the author's reminiscences of a year or so in the early sixties spent analysing an African language. The surprising feature of the book is that two of the main characters are very tiny children, as featured in the (photoshopped) image on the cover, namely Dave Clark's daughter Helen and his friend's son Tim. After venturing across the world on a liner the Clarks arrive in the Rivers State in the Niger Delta and are bedazzled by the local characters and strange customs. During the time they spend there their daughter tries out her linguistic skills and her small companion Tim investigates rats eggs and bowls of syrup. At Christmas the Clarks travel up river to Tim's family's home where they have to wade ashore after a boat trip and their camp bed collapses several times in the night. All in a day's work for the nineteen sixties Missionary family apparently. Occasional trips to hospital and evidences of black magic are slightly disconcerting and perhaps make one question how safe these tiny vulnerable families really were, but the author is able to look back with happiness from the safe distance of five decades. An interesting book which makes a good quick read if you are interested in misskids (I see on Wikipedia they are called Missionary kids or MK's these days) and the issues they have to come to terms with. I remember you can tell that the author is a linguist because of the way he analyses everything people say, but since I have mislaid my copy I couldn't tell you how. Portofino by Frank Schaeffer is a good Misskids book by the way, if you want a book written from the Misskids perspective.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 24 Jun 2013
By Carrie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first purchased this book in kindle form.... not for me. I then repurchased it in book form. I used this book as part of a group book presentation in a college reading linguistic class. I really enjoyed the book and so did the other group members. It was a really interesting story and I would recommend this book to others.
5.0 out of 5 stars Jungle Life 22 April 2007
By Nom D. Plume - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Babes In The Jungle: A Year of Village Life in the Niger Delta

I met author David Clark when we lived on the island of Malaita in Solomon Islands in the early 1980s. At that time, we were working as advisers to Malaitans who were trying to translate portions of the New Testament into their own languages. David was a consultant for the United Bible Societies. In that role his job was to check over translated scripture passages for exegetical correctness before they were published.

The events of this book took place long before we met David, while he was a Ph.D. student in linguistics, doing field work in Nigeria. David, his wife Glenys, and baby daughter Helen lived in a village called Orupata in a language group called Ekpeye.

I enjoyed the tales of making do, of learning to eat new things, of trying to identify the snakes, and of dealing with the heat and insects. It is always fun to hear the mistakes people make when learning a new language, especially when they don't take themselves too seriously. And it is interesting to hear stories about relationships with people, learning what is important to people, and how cultural values sometimes clash.

I especially enjoyed hearing how their toddler daughter made their life easier. Not that chasing after a toddler is all that easy, but baby Helen certainly did provide the Clarks with a way to relate to the people of Orupata. And at that age, children are very busy learning to talk, so Helen absorbed the tonal system of Ekpeye with no problem, while learning English at the same time, whereas her parents were struggling. David's stories about Helen are evidence for something I've always suspected: having children on the mission field is a good thing, in so many ways.

It was also fun to hear how the villagers figured out that Glenys was pregnant with their second child before she even realized it.
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