Author: Cristiano Gentili

Publisher: #Help African Albinos


                       Rehabilitate  African Albinos

This is an extremely well written book. That was my first reaction after pouring through its pages.

The novel has been written with a motive in mind. The raison d’etre of this novel is devoted to depicting the kind of life that is available to an albino who has been born among dark skinned Africans. The author has very skillfully woven into the text of this book, the kind of ostracism and objectivization that an albino has to endure.

First of all, most of them are killed at birth. For those who manage to survive, their parents could refuse any kind of contact with them since it is believed that they bring bad luck to the family. And if all this is not enough, their bodies and even their body parts can be lucrative to witch doctors, who have kept African superstition alive and who enjoy the power they wield over credulous people.

These are the issues that the author Cristiano Gentili grapples with in this book.

The action opens on a woman called Juma in the process of giving birth to an albino girl. She is horrified and very unwillingly agrees to a request from her mother-in-law to nurse the baby, be it temporarily. Others present also shared this view and the near unanimous decision of doing away with the baby is seen as the right thing to do. The father of the child, Sefu, concurred with this  decision. The only one who was not comfortable with it was Nkamba, Sefu’s mother and the baby’s grandmother, who, as it happens,had many years earlier, also given birth to an albino girl and who regretted deeply having allowed her to die. So she proposes a difficult test to find out the will of the Spirits as to whether the child should be allowed to live or not. The test was executed and the baby survived it. Nkamba adopted the baby, and called her Adimu.

On another front, there is the owner of a gold mine, Charles Fielding who is childless. He has a very loving wife called Sara with whom he is deeply in love, just as she is with him.  By a twist of fate, the Fieldings come into contact with Adimu. Sara wishes to adopt Adimu even at that stage, but Adimu is duly returned to Nkamba who was anxiously awaiting news of her granddaughter when she went missing. But contact between Adimu and the Fieldings had been established and this is significant as the events in the story unfold.

The events in the story are geared to highlighting the inhuman way, most African societies view albinos, especially when the said albino is female. As an albino, Adimu is rejected by both her parents, has no playmates and is mistreated in school by her teachers despite an innate desire to learn new things. Besides, there are people who are out to kill her, as the body parts of an albino are valuable to a witch doctor since they are believed to possess magical powers. The events in this book are beautifully orchestrated to expose  the underbelly of how rural African societies actually treat albinos just because they have a different skin colour.

This book is very well written and a joy to read. The events unfold naturally from the thought processes of the characters and the pace is measured, allowing a delay in the occurrence of sundry negative events, in what could also be seen as good karma prevailing. It is not a surprise that several Nobel Laureates have agreed to participate in this project of rehabilitating African albinos from the debilitating plight they share.

Warmly recommended.