One of Them: An Eton College Memoir by Musa Okwonga

One of Them is a memoir about being a Black student at Eton in the 1990s, and also a reflection on how so much power is concentrated in people who went there. Musa Okwonga was a middle class boy from a small town in Greater London who dreamt of going to Eton, and this book charts his time there from dreams and prep school to leaving, and also looks at the impact of Eton on his own life and how it reflects wider society. Issues of race, sexuality, and privilege run through the memoir and it becomes clear that with hindsight, the distribution of power and the ‘boys club’ of Tory government aren’t surprising to someone who went to Eton.

This is a highly readable memoir broken into short chapters that provide vignettes of Musa Okwonga’s experiences, not only at Eton but also growing up in a town very unlike where most of his classmates lived but still seeming out of place there due to going to boarding school. The depiction of Eton probably won’t surprise people who’ve heard about the people who’ve come out of it, but it was surprising to see a more balanced view at times that gives the positive experiences one man had, but also the negative (and those that were more negative with hindsight). There’s a lot to think about in terms of class and race and why the people in government are set on increasing inequality, but through a personal lens with conflicted thoughts at times.