Today, I want to tell you a story. It is not my story. It is Saah Millimono’s story. Maybe it is actually not his story, it is the novel’s protagonist Tarnue’s story. And not just Tarnue’s, it is also Kou’s story. I know that if I go on, and on, this will end up as a story of Tarnue’s family, Kou’s family and by the time we are done, it will be the story of lives in Monrovia, Liberia and beyond to other countries that have been through civil war. As some commentators would want us to believe, this means not just neighbouring Sierra Leone, but much of Africa. Is this is a book about Africa? What never seems to be mentioned is that this has happened, civil war happens and will happen anywhere in the world. That war is human. And love is human too.
Peter’s grip on the wheel tightened when the front left tire of the ambulance slammed into a pothole, which was large enough to swallow a baby. He veered sharply to the right to spare his back tire the impact, but he was moving too fast. The ambulance bucked and the woman and child in the back cried out as their bodies banged against the sides.
“Sorry’o!” Peter said, but he knew they couldn’t hear him over the siren. The best thing he could do for them was get to Blessed Cross in the next five minutes. But now the morning traffic was barely moving.
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The duration of the passage and the dangers associated with it had prepared us for the worst, but the first few days of azure skies and blazing sun dispelled our fears. We sat on deck at sunset to while away the time, hardly ever sleeping for our excitement, and sometimes we sang and evoked life on the plantations until dawn. I would lean against the rail to relish the pleasant sea breeze and to gaze at the gleaming waters stretching endlessly around us. Occasionally, the sound of the waves lashing against the ship would reach me like a song from far across the ocean, soothing my nerves.
Meanwhile the ship edged on, tearing through the churning waters, moving further away from America and heading steadily toward our destination. There were days when I would chose to keep to myself, refusing to join Reverend Barclay and others for prayer.