The year is 1979.
The month September.
The day is number 19.
It happened in Agadir, the old city in Morocco.

On that very day Houssein killed Safia on the flat roof of their house. Safia was 29 years young, 7 months pregnant, leaving behind 7 children. One of those children is Ouarda, 5 years young. 

The date is crucial in this auto-biographical book by Ouarda Saillo. She searches for her past and her present. She talks with her brother and sisters to find more details about what happened, she lays hands on official documents concerning the murder of her mother. Her father is in prison.

In bounds and leaps, going back and forth in time and space, she recounts a harrowing story of her life. The first marriage of her father ended in a divorce, his second marriage, arranged, with a girl 11 years younger ended in murder.

Ouada tells about her childhood, at different places, with different families and relatives, about her father who repairs electronic equipment, who smokes hasj, who gets more and more violent, about her mother who tries to keep the family together, and who, pregnant with Ouada, runs away to her mother in a small village. The family is always at the brink of disaster. 

The young girl manages to get into a good secondary school, but after a few years she leaves and travels from job to job and form boy to boy. Finally she meets an older German who takes her with him to Germany were they get married and Ouada has a son. This marriage ends in divorce. 

One feature of this book is ‘petite bonnes’, young girls who are used as slaves to work in prosperous families, often abused by the men in the household, kicked out and left destitute. 

This book is a very, very sad book. A book about cruelty and a dystopian family, not just the nuclear family, but also the other relatives who accept and abate the cruelties and the avarice and the abuse that ran in the family.

The writer now lives in Germany and she had a foundation to help the ‘petite bonnes’ (I could not find any information on this foundation).

Ouada Saillo – Tränenmond – 2004

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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