An in-depth insight into areas of Africa in constant turmoil
This novel is written by a man who was born in Lagos, Nigeria and is currently living in Montreal, Canada. Although the novel is a work of fiction, it is based on events that actually happened and of which he is knowledgeable.
The protagonist is a female, Ranya Abass in Darfur, who is recently widowed and because of the continuous civil wars occurring there and in neighboring African countries, is bombed out of her home and the only place she can go to is a huge refugee camp for displaced persons. She has a teenage daughter and a teenage son and it will take them five days to walk there, carrying only a sleeping mat, water and a little food. She teaches them to cover themselves with sand so they cannot be seen from the air or by other travelers they should meet. The camp provides very little and people who are already living there help her to find material to make her a small overhead tent, but there is not enough food or essentials. She and four other women walk miles away from the encampment each day to cut wood and bring it back to sell to other refugees so they can cook. The great constant danger is that there are gangs continuously roaming around who raid and kill. One day one of these gangs come across the women, strip them and gang rape them. It is traumatic for all of the women, but one woman never emotionally or mentally recovers.
There is a peacekeeping force consisting of UN and the African Union military but there are not enough men to really protect an area as large as France and these gangs hit and run. They sustain themselves by robbing UN trucks of food and armaments. The UN are not allowed to chase these gangs down and actually either capture them or kill them, but only to fight defensively when necessary.
After the women are raped, they no longer leave the encampment. Then Ranya’s son decides he will earn some funds and he joins a band out of the camp who are making some money. Ranya’s daughter falls in love with a young man from one of the tribes that are hostile. Ranya’s son disappears and Ranya is determined to find him. She joins one of the gangs and becomes a militant. The story encompasses the different trials and tribulations of the people of these warring countries in Africa and how desperate and unsolvable it seems. The author does a fine job of describing his characters so that the reader is pulled into the emotions, feelings of hopelessness and sorrow, and at the same time, incorporates the actions of all of these different groups of people
For anyone who would like to understand Africa better and learn about it from the personal experiences of one who lived there and knows it as it is, this is the book you would want. It is like modern history in the making. I was most impressed and educated along lines I knew nothing about before. Hence, I recommend this book
I was given a complimentary copy for an honest review.