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RAW Book Review: Allah is not obliged

The Real African|| By Dumani Mandela

The book Allah is not obliged is a novel about the effects civil conflict during the 90’s in Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It is literally one of the most spellbinding books I have ever read. It takes us through the psyche of a child soldier in times of war and his observations. The book is written from the perspective of a 10 year old child soldier named Birahima (the blameless and fearless kid) and his experiences with all the factions contesting for power in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the mid 90’s.

It starts off in a small village called Togobala in Ivory Coast, not too far off from the capital city Abidjan where Birahima’s crippled mother dies as a result of a botched female circumcision, with some believing she was a witch doctor of the highest order.

Birahima is then forced to search out his aunt in Liberia with the assistance of his witch doctor and money multiplier Yacouba. The book details the story of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast in the mid nineties outlining the carnage in Liberia, endless coup d’état’s in Sierra Leone, as well as the unsuccessful mediation by ECOMOG lead by Nigerian soldiers.

This story is one of the human spirit and the desire to not only survive but also live through a litany of African beliefs. Not only is it a story about contemporary African beliefs, ranging from Islam to Christianity, but the book also tells a story deeply steeped in African spirituality and the melting pot of beliefs that prevail on the continent.

When All these aspects are mixed together, contemporary religious beliefs and indigenous beliefs, they lead to the full title of the book; Allah is not obliged to be fair about all the things he does here on earth.  

The book is also an indictment of Africans who are Muslim and believe that God is not really compelled to hear our prayers and our ambitions and somewhat cherry pick whom to answer and whom to assist in this world.

Rather than take a defeatist view towards the irrational benevolence of God Allah, the central characters in the book mixes Islam with Christianity, and ancestral worship in order to increase their chances of being assisted by the spiritual world.

This story is by far one of the most captivating and meaningful stories I have ever read and has reinforced my faith in African writers. I recommend this book to all young Africans whom would like to discover African tradition and the endless restorative spirit of indigenous and strongly held cultural convictions.


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