The Native Boy
By William K. Reeves

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Herewith is an invitation to you to acquire your own personal copy of “The Native Boy”. William Reeves' autobiography provides one among many Liberian voices that have been missing from African literary production in the post Colonial era. Is The Native Boy a postcolonial text? Reeves documents a life in which his earliest identification was as a Grebo village child and his subsequent 70-some years of experience lead him to call himself a Liberian, still a Grebo, and most definitely an educator. Now, when most news reports of Liberia include the soundbite that the nation was founded by freed slaves from the United States in the 1840s, William Reeves offers a point of view by someone whose ancestors preceded those freed American slaves in the geographical and cultural space that is Liberia. His story is an important challenge to international views of Liberia, to postcolonial theories, to the literary history of Africa.

I first met William Reeves in 1975, when I received my Peace Corps assignment to teach English at the Liberian high school in Zwedru where William was Principal. He was then, as he is now at age 72, one of life's real characters. Every morning before classes began, Mr. Reeves would address the assembled students in the schoolyard (no auditorium existed), and for fifteen minutes he delivered what can only be called true oratory -- speeches that were part inspirational philosophy, part commentary on current events, part comedic entertainment, all aimed at inciting the students in his care to better themselves through education. I hear that same lively voice in the pages of this memoir. Apart from its political and cultural value, this book The Native Boy entertains and provokes with its framing as an epic of an educator.

Elizabeth J. Bryan
Associate Professor of English
Brown University

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