Vamba Sherif is a writer who was born in Liberia. His father worked for some time at a university in Kuwait, so he spent some there as well. But in the end he moved to The Netherlands where he settled and wrote. He writes in English even in the land of the Dutchies.
In his book on the kingdom of Sebah he follows a refugee family that tries to settle in The Netherlands. A different world altogether and the members of the family all react in different ways. Mother Sebah functions as a kind of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. She moves outside the house, she gets involved in all kinds of activities, mainly geared towards uplifting the position of women, and also she becomes an elected politician. She even at a time leaves the house to stay with another man.
Father Haidara tries to keep his family together, he gets some work and in the end he runs a shop of his own. And slowly but surely he expands his small empire.
Daughter Mariam prefers to stay with their neighbours as much as possible. The female neighbour sees in Mariam the memories of herself in the days she lived abroad as a young girl.
The son, Mansakeh, tells the story, he is two years younger than Mariam. When he is at the end of his teens he gets a relationship with Daphne, but deep down he is the man watches from a distance and does not partake.
The two children take a long time before they start their scholastic career. In one way or the other the Dutch authorities missed their presence in the small town?
A main line in the story is the parentage of Mansakeh: who is his father? Is it Haidara or did another man play a decisive role. A priest in Venice knew the parents of Mansakeh when they still lived in their country of origin. So the story raises the question of the seductress. Is Sebah a born seductress who lured another man, when she was at the point of gettin married?
Mansakeh starts writing a novel. Is this his approach of dealing with his clouded ancestry? Is his life fiction, tales spun around him?
Vamba Sherif – The Kingdom of Sebah – 2003