Say You're One of Them Webcast Transcript
Oprah: That you talk with children, communicate with children, play with children. And also used children sort of as your critics for your stories.
Uwem: Yeah, sometimes.Yeah, sometimes.
Oprah: Anderson, I thank you so much. You and CNN for bringing these stories to life for us and for being a part of our webcast. I know you've got to go do your night job so...
Anderson: Okay. Well, it was a fun first date. I hope we'll have a second one.
Oprah: Okay. And next time don't wear a tie.
Anderson: I won't. I'll dress down.
Oprah: Okay. The second story in Say You're One of Them is the reason why I chose this book. But before I go to the second story, I want to go back to the book club in Appleton, Wisconsin, because I thought there was a woman there, Shari, wanted to say something and we didn't finish talking to those lovely ladies there who were, based on your question, ladies, I got the impression that what you read in the "Ex-Mas" story was pretty shocking for you, correct?
Group: Very shocking.
Oprah: Very shocking. So nobody in this group has been to Africa.
Book Club Member: I have.
Oprah: Oh, sorry. But you got to go through your imagination through this book.
Oprah: So Shari there? Was it Shari there who had a question?
Oprah: Go ahead.
Shari: My question was, what was the reference to the monkey? It seemed like it was possibly something, a sexual reference, or a person, and we weren't clear on that. It didn't seem like it was good. It seemed like maybe we don't want to know the answer, but it never was really clear what the monkey, or a monkey, is or was.
Uwem: Yeah. Sometimes tourists in developing countries, they can do very crazy things. So it's not beyond them sometimes to, you know, pay a child prostitute, pay a prostitute, you know, to have sex with their dogs, you know. So that was a reference, you know, there. So that's, that's what it was. That's what I put in there.
I also want to say that I was shocked to come to Ann Arbor and discover that there was a sociology teacher at the University of Michigan doing a research on American kids sniffing glue in this country, in Canada, in Mexico. You know, at some point the National Institute, you know, for Health in D.C., they invited me. And these experts come from all over the world. And this was a problem. They were like, "Thank you, Father, for bringing this out. We've never been successful. We go to the press, the press say, 'Aren't you happy they're just sniffing glue? It could be worse.'" The police say, "Well, you can't arrest anybody in Canada, in the U.S., for sniffing glue. Cocaine, yes, we will come with, you know, we will come with you." There was this story in Canada where, you know, a child was sniffing petrol and the police came, they couldn't stop the child until the child, you know, caught fire. And now the police could intervene. And so they call it gateway, a gateway drug. So glue sniffing is very widespread. It's not only glue. Polish. Petrol.
Oprah: Petrol meaning gasoline.
Uwem: Yeah, gasoline. Anything that has the ability to get people high.And the law does not forbid. Some people, you know, some people happen to go for it. The difference I noticed when I was in Washington, D.C., with that group of experts was that in developing countries, children sniff this because of hunger mainly. But in developed countries, it's just to get high.
Oprah: To get high, yeah. Well, I can see that the book expanded you all because...
Book Club: Yeah.
Uwem: Thank you.
Oprah: That was a collective sigh. Thanks. Thanks, Appleton, Wisconsin. The second story was called "Fattening for Gabon." The first line of the story lets us know that we're in for some true heartbreak. The first line reads, "Selling your child or nephew could be more difficult than selling other kids." Well, this story, when I finished reading this story, I... This is the story that made me find your number and call you up. And the reason is is because at the end of this story, as all of you who have read the book already know, at the end of the story, the way the story ends, I'm gonna go to the very last page of the story, is what made me make that phone call. Yeah. It was, it was unbelievable to me that you ended the story that way.
"I ran into the bush, blades of elephant grass slashing my body. Thorns and rough earth piercing my feet.I took the key and padlock from my pocket and flung them into the bush. I ran and I ran, though I knew I would never outrun my sister's wailing."
I could not get the vision of, of the sister's wailing out of my mind. And I thought, well, okay, he ran. He got, he was freed. But he'd never, was he ever really free? In your mind, was he ever really free? Did that resolve itself?
Uwem: No, it did not.It was a painful ending for me. I remember once I knew—because I knew how I would end that, like, like eight pages from the end of that story.
Oprah: You knew. You knew how you were gonna end it.
Uwem: Yeah, like eight pages. At the beginning I didn't know.
Oprah: Eight pages before you ended, you knew how you were gonna end it.
Uwem: Yeah, yeah.
Oprah: Oh, boy.
Uwem: So I stopped writing the story for like a month. I couldn't... I couldn't go on with it and I couldn't write anymore. I, I was already in pain over Yewa. And then after a while I gathered myself. Each time I... There were times writing these stories I, I just would go away in pain. Because I have to sift through these scenes many times. You'll have to read it maybe once or twice. And sometimes it got too much and I would have to run away.