Who Is Aminatta Forna? And Why It Matters…

From Aminatta Forna.com:

Writer - Producer - Journalist - Educator - EntrepreneurWriter – Producer – Journalist – Educator – Entrepreneur

Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow, raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom and now divides her time between London and Sierra Leone. Formerly an award winning journalist for BBC Television (1989-99), she is now a full-time writer. Her most recent published works are Ancestor Stones, a novel set in West Africa, and The Devil that Danced on the Water, a memoir of her dissident father and her country. In addition she has also published essays and articles, and written for television and radio. In 2003 The Devil that Danced on the Water was runner up for Britain’s most prestigious non-fiction award, the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. The book was serialised on BBC Radio, also in The Sunday Times newspaper, and selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers series. Most recently The Devil that Danced on the Water became a Times newspaper Book Club book. Ancestor Stones was a New York Times Editor’s Choice book, selected by the Washington Post as one of the Best Novels of 2006 and one of The Listener Magazine’s Best 10 Books of 2006. In 2007 Aminatta was named by Vanity Fair as one of Africa’s most promising new writers and her work has been translated into nine languages. She is currently at work on her second novel.
In 2003 Aminatta helped to build a primary school in her family’s village of Rogbonko, where she is also working to establish a cashew plantation named Kholifa Estates after the fictional plantation in Ancestor Stones.

From Entertainment Weekly.com:

Forna spent much of her childhood shuttling between her European mother and her Sierra Leonean father, an almost impossibly principled and courageous man who rose to become minister of finance in 1968 by navigating the maze of alliances and enmities that constitute African politics: tribal loyalties, personal grudges, and battles for control of the diamond trade. His popularity and integrity were a threat to the corrupt and dictatorial administration, and in 1974, he was framed and tried for treason. In this heartbreaking memoir of Forna’s quest to find the truth about her father, she outlines the grim prospects of a poor and largely illiterate populace that still suffers the legacies of colonial exploitation, the misguided concept of ”benign dictatorship,” and a brutal civil war.

She is many things — including the producer of the Lost Libraries of Timbuktu.  The series aired recently on the BBC and is available on YouTube.  Here is Part I:

Part II:

From Part III:

“We don’t find evidence of warfare in the Pre-Islamic Period in West Africa.” – Archaelogist, Yale University.

There are at least six parts to the YouTube series.  Check it out.  The manuscripts contain writings on all manner of things – from the complex to the mundane; from astrological calculations to formulas for the making of toothpaste.  The preservation, restoration and broad dissemination of these libraries is a project of great importance.  Thabo Mbeki visited Mali in 2001 and provided financial support to the preservation effort.  Another person who has grasped the importance of these documents, aside from Ms. Forna and the former South African head of state,  is none other than Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (the NBA star formerly known as Chris Jackson).  He has lent his support to the Timbuktu Educational Foundation.  Abdul-Rauf serves on the Board of Directors with noted scholars Ali Mazrui (author of The Africans)  and noted Africentrist, Dr. Wade Nobles of San Francisco State University.

Also, if you’d like to know more about the school in Senegal or make contributions for its development, click here.   Or send your contributions here:

Rogbonko Village School Trust
P.O Box 45394
SE14 5JT
United Kingdom

There are some great pictures on her site.  Enjoy.

One comment

  1. I was appreciating the story of the variances of family and government. It is amazing, how the way a country is run, can influence it’s people. If people percieve that they are not permitted to go further for schooling, you have a oppressive society. A angry one as well, since the limitation that is being placed on the peoples are unkind and unfair. It never easy to understand why one chooses to act in a different manner, defying the usual, and setting new horizons and challenges. People deal with a wide variety of problems on any given day, both familial and internal and external. The only hope we have, is to be committed to being the best person for true selves, and to help each person to know that they do matter. If people have a sense of purpose, perhaps they will encourage and help themselves and their fellow man. I believe your writing sounds hopefull, and shows sincerity in struggles.

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