Lynecia's Reviews > A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa

A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo
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bookshelves: criticism, black-studies

2.5 stars.
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I was so absorbed by the personal stories of some of the people in Alexis Okeowo’s book, that more than once, I almost missed my stop on the subway whilst reading it. Her subjects traverse the continent -- Uganda in the East, Nigeria to the West; northward to Mauritania and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Okeowo is a seasoned journalist, having moved to Uganda straight out of college to intern for a newspaper for a year - and she’s focused her beat on the continent ever since.

The people she follows in her book are living through atrocities that most of us have learned about through the Western media - The LRA, (remember “Kony 2012”?), the Boko Haram kidnappings (#BringBackOurGirls), al-Shabbab (see: recent terror attacks in Mogadishu) and Arab enslavement of Black Africans in the deserts of the Sahel and Northern Africa. (I’d venture to say the West is less familiar with this scourge, but I digress. I recommend watching a 2009 Australian documentary called “Stolen”, if you can find it, for more on slavery in that part of the world). Her stated aim is to highlight the everyday ways that people living under religious extremism, terror and oppression choose to fight back, to resist, in ordinary ways. Okeowo was able to take those aforementioned atrocities, that have again, been filtered through the Western gaze and allowed the personal stories of the people who lived through them take center stage.

While I enjoyed the stories, and some of the backstory she provided, I wish she spent more time crafting the narrative structure of the book. It seemed to jump around alot, and there were points that didn’t seem to gel, but seemed to be thrown in for narrative effect. (view spoiler)

Each piece on its own could have been a longform article - each of them moving and compelling. However compiled in a book, they don’t really fit with her central thesis of ordinary resistance in the face of terror. However, the stories are still worthy of being told. I’d recommend reading this just for those.
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Reading Progress

September 27, 2017 – Shelved
September 27, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 23, 2017 – Started Reading
October 23, 2017 –
page 24
October 24, 2017 –
page 68
October 25, 2017 –
page 106
October 26, 2017 –
page 162
October 27, 2017 –
page 202
October 28, 2017 –
page 202
October 28, 2017 –
page 202
October 28, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 8, 2020 – Shelved as: criticism
January 8, 2020 – Shelved as: black-studies

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