Nightmare along the River Nile

Nightmare Along the River Nile, Library of Congress Control number 2009910872, assumed published, copyright and written by S. E, Nelson.

Sub-titled “A Story of Twentieth Century Slavery” the author has set forth a fictional tale of one young man trapped in the vicious slavery system. It describes his entrapment, his subsequent treatment along with others similarly gathered, his unusually fortuitous escape bolstered by his deeply held belief in God, and his eventual rescue as the result of friendship rarely of such strength as to provide unending personal help that attracted further aid by truly altruistic individuals in prominent positions.

Discussion: “Written from an African perspective and in an African voice”, “this story was inspired by actual events that happened to many young boys and girls in the 1990’s in northern Uganda, who were abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels.” It graphically describes the vicious activity of these, and other rebel groups, their activity with the Mullahs who are a throwback to biblical times and buy these captives as they do camels and donkeys to use them similarly on their farms and other properties. It also presents an amazingly detailed picture of the barter methods that seem to be the normal way of life in many of the under developed areas of today’s Africa as well as the wide scale corruption that pervades all commerce as well as much interpersonal activity. Additionally, it presents a touching picture of deeply held faith. My only comment of an adverse nature is that from this reviewer’s perspective the story appears to focus less attention on the stated purpose of the book apropos the dedication, i.e., “to all of the men, women and children who are still in bondage anywhere in the world”. Instead, the book’s emphasis appears to be more heavily directed toward the intensely close relationship among the close friends and the remarkable altruism demonstrated by the other characters involved and how these factors, along with a devout religious faith, were able to accomplish a miraculous reunion.

Conclusion: A book that provides a most enlightening picture of parts of Africa, its residents, and their way of life but only partially encompasses the features the author seemingly was desirous of emphasizing.

4* 5* Description of rural Africa activities; -1 seemingly short of author’s intent.

Motorbikes and Camels

Motorbikes and Camels ISBN: 9781944733995 Luminare Press, an e book by Nejoud Al-Yagout.

Plot: The story opens with Salma, a young girl who like others of her faith, has gained her knowledge of the opposite sex and romance secretly from magazines and/or TV. She believes she is in love with Khaled. However he loves Saadia. The reader then meets Maha who is enchanted with Bader but then meets somewhat older Ahmed and leaves Bader only to find Ahmed is not sure he wishes to marry so she returns to Bader whom she eventually marries. The ‘coming-of-age’ portion of the tale expands and continues on through the years following Selma, her friend Aisha who marries Hussam with whom she has a child only to discover her husband’s true love is a male. Aisha then has another partner, Meshary and the reader continues to be introduced to a number of other ‘disturbed’ individuals including the father Mohammed, a strongly ‘old school’ Muslim whose wife Zayna insists upon a divorce when he , as permitted, takes Lina, a second wife. She then becomes involved with Mike, an expatriate school teacher and the tale continues being told with many of the chapters devoted to the thinking and action of each character, often directly after the chapter explaining the situation that has involved the pair. Parenthetically a format that provides a degree of repetition.

Discussion: In spite of the above description of complex but simplistically superficial appearing interrelationships engaged in most frequently by essentially naïve individuals, the author has set forth a fascinating examination of the compelling situations that develop when modern concepts collide with long held strongly followed religious edicts, traditional teachings and societal influences of cast, monetary distinction, and similar factors. The Kuwaiti author has explored the basis, as well as reaction to both bi- and same sex relationships, definitions of certain aspects of the Muslim faith, teachings of the Koran, Sharia Law and existing traditional as well as less traditional interpretations and practices. This reader found a number of descriptions and/or statements especially interesting and an aspect of homosexuality intriguingly only provided in one usually preferred manner. An epilogue further extends the author’s thoughts.

Summary: A thought producing presentation of numerous complex issues arising from modern life’s entanglement with long held, but variously interpreted, aspects of the Muslim Faith and how they might interact in the lives of various individuals.

4* A look at modern life’s interplay with traditional Muslims beliefs.