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BOOK EXTRACT | This is not your average Kojo


BOOK EXTRACT | This is not your average Kojo

Kojo Baffoe reflects on what it means to belong in his new book, ‘Listen to Your Footsteps’

Mila de Villiers

I read Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd when I was in high school and the title has always stuck with me, although it is probably as much for the idea of a “madding crowd” as it was for embarrassing myself in English class because of it. We were supposed to have written a composition on it and, because I hadn’t actually read it, I read the first two chapters and the last chapter and wrote an essay that totally missed the mark.

To feel alone amidst the madding crowd can be a painful place to be. And, for large portions of my life, that is how I have felt. Alone, sometimes lonely, amongst people, even with people who are supposed to be my people. This goes as far back as I can remember, to the photograph of me, in the middle of people, as a toddler.

The concept of belonging is strange. The world can see you as belonging, but more important is how you see yourself. I have never felt like I fully belonged, anywhere. In my family, I am the white sheep, the only one with a white mother, the only one with European heritage, my mother’s only child. We weren’t raised that way. We were all Baffoe children, raised as siblings without any “step” in the mix. But I still felt different because I was different. And there were elements of their lives, beyond the home, that I wasn’t part of...

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