Worldreader Book Club

April 2015 • The Baobabs of Tete


The Baobabs of Tete

by Kari Dako

Synopsis: The Baobabs of Tete takes us on a whirlwind trip around Africa in a tour de force collection of perfectly crafted vignettes, each offering us an eye-opening glimpse into a starkly depicted reality filled with a cast of complex characters. In On Bare Chested Men, we watch with a mixture of amusement and sadness as a group of Ghanaian students approach a contingent of topless foreigners allowed onto their university campus. The interaction is short, but impossible to forget. In The Boy, we are forced to confront the dilemma of an ordinary woman who encounters a boy, armed with a stick, and the boy’s own desperation. In Purple Heart, we meet Selina, a thirteen year old double amputee, who recalls a morning like any other that ends in gunfire.

Video Introduction to The Baobabs of Tete:

Discussion Questions about The Baobabs of Tete:

  1. If you had not known that Kari Dako was a foreigner would you have guessed it after reading the collection? If so, what would have tipped you off Further - do you think it matters (in terms of authenticity and the overall impact of the stories) that she is a foreigner?
  2. How would you describe how Kari characterizes most of the foreigners in her stories?
  3. Why do you think the collection was titled after the story of the same name?
  4. She sheds light on some really difficult topics and she does so in a way that is more complex than many writers who have decided to write about Africa. There is nuance here and a deep sense of angry cynicism, but there is no patronizing tone. Is there anything about her perspective that was surprising to you?