By Hawa Donzo
My name is Hawa and I currently reside in Western Australia with my family. Originally, my family and I are of Liberian decent, although my older sister and I were both born in Guinea, Conakry. Having spent the last few years tracing my family’s Mandingo history and asking uncomfortable questions, Nvasekie’s novel The Land of My Father’s Birth has shed a beaming light on my findings.
The first and second parts of this book really helped to round-up my understanding and overall knowledge of life in Liberia as a Mandingo, in the pre- and post-civil war era; a lifestyle, I never got to physically experience. Like many Mandingo-Liberians, my family fled to neighboring countries during the Liberian civil war out of the fear of being persecuted or killed for our religious or tribal affiliations.
Many of the children whom were born- not long before, during or after this civil war, in my opinion, lack the full grasp of the traumatizing bloodshed that occurred during this horrific period. Prior to reading this novel, I had watched documentaries and read memoirs and survival stories about culture of rape, child soldiers, civil wars and countless turmoil from Africans across the diaspora. However, Nvasekie’s The Land of My Father’s Birth is the only novel I’ve come across which is written based on the Liberian civil war from a Liberian-Mandingo writer’s perspective.
After reading the book, I had few questions which I posted directly to the author, Nvasekie. In particular, I found his journey with Parker and Sam from Liberia to Guinea and finally to Ivory Coast before his return back to Liberia with Sam and a few new friends very interesting. I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t mention his ongoing relationship with Sam when they both got back to Liberia considering they both came together. According to the book, when he returned to Liberia with Sam, they drifted apart as their interests in music was what held them together throughout their journey. Although, Nvasekie explained that he helped Sam and another friend to record an album while he was in America, his efforts did not go far.
I got a bit side-tracked with the timeline in a few of the chapters however, I highly recommend this book. Nvasekie has done a commendable job bringing to the frontline some of the cultural, religious and intolerant behaviours that led to such a shameful and unforgettable war.
Hawa Donzo contact email firstname.lastname@example.org