Friday, December 01, 2006

Bebe Moore Campbell Passes On

I just found out that an author I really admire, Bebe Moore Campbell, passed away on Monday from complications of brain cancer.

I blogged about one of her books Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad a few months ago.

I really enjoyed reading her books. She was able to get into the skin of her characters so well that even when you despised a character, you still understood where they were coming from. She was also an extremely funny writer. Brothers and Sisters was the first of her books that I read. Set in LA just after the race riots of the 1990s, it made me think about race in a way that I guess I really had until them and also acknowledge that as much as I despise any sort of discrimination, I (like most other people) had my own prejudices.

Bebe Moore Campbell was also an ardent advocate for the mentally ill, especially among African-Americans. Her most recent book, 72 Hour Hold, focused on this theme. Like in the African-American community, there is also a lot of stigma towards mental illness and depression in Nigeria and I wish this weren't so. Mental illness is not always manifested in the 'crazy', dreadlocked vagabond mumbling to him or herself or threatening violence to passers-by. Many forms of depression are a lot more insidious and sneaky than that. While some people have a genetic pre-disposition to mental illness, in many people, it can be triggered by a devastating event.

I think many of us need to develop more awareness about mental health and learn to show more compassion to people suffering from mental illnesses.


laspapi said...

Those were interesting observations you made on mental health.

Apart from genetic pre-dispostion, drugs, stress (and trauma) like you pointed out, can push people over the edge too.

Had to do some research for a play I'm writing on the issue- 'Broken Walls'.

Nice blog, by the way.

Ore said...

Thanks, Laspapi. I would be interested in seeing your play whenever it gets to the stage.