The Devil that Danced on the Water: A Daughter’s Quest

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2015-06-05 14:33Z by Steven

The Devil that Danced on the Water: A Daughter’s Quest

416 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 0002570653
Paperback ISBN: 0006531261

Aminatta Forna

An evening in 1974 when she was ten years old, Aminatta Forna opened the door to two men, members of the state secret police, come to take her father. A year later he was killed. The Devil that Danced on the Water is Aminatta’s search for the truth of her father’s fate, moving and terrifying in turns, always compelling, it traces events leading to the moment of his arrest. And what happened after he was taken away.

Aminatta Forna’s luminous memoir is a vivid and passionate account of an African childhood, of an idyll which becomes the stuff of nightmares. As a child she witnessed the upheavals of post-colonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness of exile in Britain and the terrible consequences of her dissident father’s stand against tyranny.

Mohamed Forna was a man of unimpeachable integrity and great charisma, who quoted Alexander Pope: ‘Honour and shame from no condition arise: Act well your part for there the honour lies.’ As Sierra Leone faced its future as a fledgling democracy, he was a new star in the political firmament, a man who had been one of the first black students to come to Britain after the war. Already a political firebrand and a stylish dresser, he stole the heart of Aminatta’s mother to the dismay of her Scottish Presbyterian parents and returned home, one of those Wole Soyinka has called the ‘Renaissance generation.’ But as Aminatta Forna shows with compelling clarity, the old Africa was torn apart by the new ways of Western democracy, which gave birth only to dictatorships and corruption of hitherto undreamed of magnitude. It was not long before Mohamed Forna languished in jail as a prisoner of conscience and worse was to follow.

Aminatta’s search for the truth that shaped both her childhood and the nation’s destiny begins among the country’s elite and took her to the heart of rebel territory. Determined to break the silence surrounding her father’s fate, she ultimately uncovered a conspiracy that penetrated the highest reaches of government and forced the nations politicians to confront their guilt.

The Devil that Danced on the Water is a book of pain and anger and sorrow, written with tremendous dignity and beautiful precision: a remarkable story of a father, a family, a country and a continent.

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The History and Evolution of Racism and Discrimination in Sierra Leone

Posted in Africa, History, New Media, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-02-11 01:58Z by Steven

The History and Evolution of Racism and Discrimination in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Daily Mail

In 1961, the independence constitution of Sierra Leone created a single nationality, without any distinction by race, ethnic group or sex. ‘Every person’ born in the former colony or protectorate who was a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies or a British protected person on 26 April 1961 became a citizen of Sierra Leone on 27 April 1961, unless neither of his or her parents nor any of his or her grandparents was born in Sierra Leone.
The 1961 constitution also had an extensive bill of rights guaranteeing the protection of the rights of all individuals without discrimination. Thus, the small population of ‘Lebanese’ and the offspring of interracial marriages were all recognized as citizens of Sierra Leone. Within a year after independence, Sierra Leone’s constitutional provisions on citizenship were amended twice to become more restrictive and discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, colour and sex. First, the words ‘of negro African descent’ were inserted immediately after the words ‘every person’, to apply retroactively from the date of independence.
Then the non-discrimination clause that prohibited any law that is ‘discriminatory of itself or in its effect’ was amended to exclude laws relating to citizenship. Individuals who were not of ‘negro African descent’ but who had acquired citizenship by virtue of the 1961 constitution were thus stripped of their citizenship of Sierra Leone after less than a year. (In Britain, meanwhile, the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act introduced for the  first time restrictions on immigration to Britain for citizens of former colonies. Though not explicitly racial in its language, the new provisions were aimed at non-white immigrants from the newly independent countries of Africa and the Caribbean; the effect was to leave some residents of former British colonies with no right of citizenship in any country.)…

…The change to the law was motivated by political considerations; in particular, to narrow the set of candidates eligible to contest elections due to be held in 1962, by depriving Lebanese and mixed-race Sierra Leoneans of the political rights conferred by citizenship. Subsequent laws restricted the rights of non-citizens to acquire property both in the Western Area (the historic colony, near Freetown) and in the provinces (though it did not take any right away from those non-citizens who had already purchased property in the Western Area)…

John Joseph Akar, a prominent mixed-race Sierra Leonean with political ambitions, became the best-known case of those affected by the changes to citizenship law and the face of efforts to reverse them. Akar’s mother was a black Sierra Leonean; his father was of Lebanese origin and thus not ‘of negro African descent’, though he had never visited Lebanon. When Sierra Leone became independent on 27 April 1961, Akar automatically became a citizen by operation of the constitution, as both he and one of his parents had been born in Sierra Leone. With the 1962 amendments, however, he lost his citizenship by birth; though he did apply for and was granted citizenship by registration. He challenged the amendments in court. In his application, he contended that the true intention of the amendments was to exclude persons not of ‘negro African descent’ from being elected to the House of Representatives. He succeeded in the High Court, but the Court of Appeal subsequently reversed the decision…

…Persons who were Afro-Lebanese (i.e. those whose mothers were black Sierra Leonean and whose fathers were not ‘negro’ African) could apply to be naturalized under this provision (though no procedures to do so were established). The 1973 Act does not define who is a ‘negro African’, and the 1962 amendment had also provided little clarity. The presumption was that the phrase meant black African, reducing the essential condition for the acquisition of citizenship to the colour of the person’s skin. Thus a black man’s children by a Sierra Leonean black woman were citizens by birth wherever they were born. A white or mixed-race man’s children by a Sierra Leonean woman could acquire Sierra Leonean citizenship only by naturalization. The 1983 Births and Deaths Registration Act reinforced this discrimination by requiring the officer registering a child’s birth to include the race of the child’s parents in the birth certificate…

Read the entire article here.

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Acclaimed author reveals secret Scottish roots in moving tribute

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2011-11-13 03:13Z by Steven

Acclaimed author reveals secret Scottish roots in moving tribute

Daily Record
Glasgow, Scotland

Maggie Barry
Sunday Mail

Writer Aminatta Forna has been called many things in her life but never Scottish—until today.

The African author’s fearless books exposing betrayal and treachery in Sierra Leone have brought critical acclaim and awards.

But only now has it emerged that Aminatta, whose father was executed when she was only 10, is half Scottish.

As her latest book The Memory Of Love was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, she paid tribute to her mum Maureen Campbell.

Aminatta said she was as brave and determined as her dad Mohamed, the son of an African chief, who died standing up for his beliefs.

Aminatta, 46, said: “My mother always gets wiped from my biographies—it’s always about Sierra Leone and my father. The Scottish side is never recognised.

“I was born at Bellshill Maternity Hospital, where my father was a doctor. My mother is from Aberdeen so suddenly being recognised as a half Scot is a bit of a breakthrough…

…She pays tribute to her mum for being willing to marry the man she loved in the face of opposition from both their families and society’s unease with mixed marriages.

Maureen’s parents had wanted her to marry a Scot and Mohamed’s family had wanted a dynastic marriage, in keeping with his status as the son of an African chieftain…

Read the entire article here.

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The Memory of Love

Posted in Africa, Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2011-11-13 03:03Z by Steven

The Memory of Love

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
January 2011
464 pages
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-1965-0
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-0-8021-4568-0

Aminatta Forna

  • Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book
  • Finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction
  • An Essence Book Club Pick

From the award-winning author of The Devil That Danced on the Water and Ancestor Stones comes The Memory of Love, a beautiful and masterfully accomplished novel about the resilience of the human spirit and the driving force of love.

Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love has been hailed as a book of rare beauty and importance, and was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction. With astounding depth and elegance, it takes the reader through the haunting atmosphere of a country at war, delicately intertwining the powerful stories of two generations of African life.

In contemporary Freetown, Sierra Leone, a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with secrets to keep. In the capital hospital Kai, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies Elias Cole, a man who was young during the country’s turbulent postcolonial years and has stories to tell that are far from heroic. As past and present intersect in the buzzing city, Kai and Elias are drawn unwittingly closer by Adrian, a British psychiatrist with good intentions, and into the path of one woman at the center of their stories.

A work of breathtaking writing and rare wisdom, The Memory of Love seamlessly weaves together the lives of these three men to create a story of loss, absolution, and the indelible effects of the past—and, at the end of it all, the very nature of love.

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Creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and degeneracy: A critique of selected histories of Sierra Leone and South Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2011-08-30 22:31Z by Steven

Creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and degeneracy: A critique of selected histories of Sierra Leone and South Africa

Current Sociology
Volume 59, Number 5 (September 2011)
pages 635-654
DOI: 10.1177/0011392111408678

Zimitri Erasmus, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
University of Cape Town

This work examines the nexus between creolization, colonial citizenship(s) and discourses of degeneration. It focuses on two sites: (1) 19th- and 20th-century Freetown, Sierra Leone, and (2) the early Cape and 20th-century South Africa. The author engages three key thinkers: Édouard Glissant, Jean-Loup Amselle and Mahmood Mamdani to illustrate how these colonial administrations deployed creolization to construct partial citizenships derived from ideas of ‘mixed race’ and ‘corrupted’ or ‘lacking’ culture. The author argues that ‘Creole’ and ‘creole’ signified, in the colonial imagination, a ‘degenerate type’ behind its legal category, ‘non-native’, and shows how uses of the concepts ‘creolization’ and ‘creole’, in selected histories of the Cape and Freetown, surrender to their colonial meanings, obscure their biopolitical significance and so, collude with discourses of degeneration. The article concludes first, that Edouard Glissant’s conception of creolization as method counters ethnological reasoning and second, that his concept ‘Relation’ enables citizenship(s) that contest social inequality and live with difference.

Read or purchase the article here.

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