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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Book Review: Ahmadou Kourouma's 'Allah Is Not Obliged'

'Allah is not obliged to be fair about all things he does on here on earth'.


Published in French as Allah n'est pas obligé in 2000 and translated in 2006 by Frank Wynne, Allah Is Not Obliged tells the story of Birahima, an orphan who becomes a child soldier while he travels to Liberia to find his aunt. 


Set in the nineties in the middle of the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leonne, Birahima is one foul-mouthed 10 (or 12) year old who explains French, African and pidgin words using the dictionaries he inherited.  Through his story we meet dictators, warlords, thieves, grigrimen, and child soldiers.  Child soldiers,  the prized possessions of warlords, are armed with their AK-47s 'kalashes', drugged up with hashish and protected by prayers.


We not only read Birahima's experience as a child soldier, in his writing, Kourouma also gives us a short history of the dictators and the events that led to the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leonne. Allah is Not Obliged, Kourouma's last novel, raises important questions about corruption, West African dictators, civil wars, child soldiers, and the innocent people that get affected by these wars. 


4.5 out of 5 stars.



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