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Allah Is Not Obliged    by Ahmadou Kourouma order for
Allah Is Not Obliged
by Ahmadou Kourouma
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Born in 1927, African novelist Ahmadou Kourouma writes of contemporary Africa, using as his voice a child-soldier. The unrest that draws Birihima into tribal wars at ten years of age is explained as though the teller of these tales was more of an observer than one engaged in active warfare.

The world is aware of the inhumanities inflicted on African people by cruel and psychopathic rulers and self-appointed generals. Allah Is Not Obliged puts the reader into the madness to view it as reality, not simply something that is seen on the morning news to shake one's head over.

In different circumstances, Birihima might have become more than a child-soldier. He seems to have a mind full of questions. He charmingly gives definitions of words that he has taken the time to look up in various dictionaries. He feels a great sense of loss when a relative dies or when one of his friends, who are also child-soldiers, is gunned down.

With his inquiring mind, even when befuddled by the appalling happenings around him, Birihima is not taken in by the rantings of his military superiors. High on hasish and enough food to make him strong and fearless, he somehow manages to escape death at the hands of whoever is his enemy at the time.

Though this book is a work of fiction, it describes what has actually happened to many young African boys and girls. Does the world not care what happens in Africa?

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