These days it is all over the news: the refugees and/or migrants that are moving into Europe. In a way this is nothing new, except for the scale. For during many decades people have left home and moved to Europe.

One of those who left home is the writer and actress Yasmine Allas. She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1967. She came from a well-to-do family for her father was a general in the Somalian Army. A few years after her father was killed she decided to leave her Somalia when she was about 14 years young. First she moved to Saudia Arabia, where relatives of her mother resided. But the islamic way of life there was not what she was looking for. She decided to travel on and she ended her journey in The Netherlands. In 1998 she published her first novel: Idil, een meisje.

The novel in this post is her third novel. The title says: ‘The general with six fingers’. This novel shows a Somali family during their affluent years in Somalia and during the years after they fled to The Netherlands.

Mr. and mrs. Samater have several children. They have a very affluent lifestyle and the general can afford to give his wife everything she wants (and she want very many material things). Mrs. Samater is rude, very demanding and focussed on material wealth. Mr. Samater comes from a very poor background. He has six fingers at each hand. An old lady who took care of him, made sure those extra fingers were taken care of, for they were a bad omen.

Probably the best thing that happened to mr. Samatar was a very small dog he found one day. He gave the dog a name: “Mataan” (meaning ‘twin’). In a way it seems mr. Samater and his dog are twins. He devotes his love to his dog. Even during their flight when the situation in Somalia becomes desperate he takes his dog (in a certain way) with him.

Daughter Nasiib tells her story, how she relates to her parents, and her sister and brothers. Violence comes to their doorstep. Mr. Samatar has taken precautions and has made sure there is a way out for his family. A way out of the country. The family leaves (incomplete, for the two sons have been killed) with hardly anything.

In the second part of the book the family has settled in The Netherlands. Life is difficult. What is their present status? What is life worth? What will be the future? Nasiiib gets a job at a lawfirm, but unknown to her one of the lawyers knows more about her than she realised at first.

The second part of the book is a sudden change form the first part. Also at times it seems a bit overdone, the sudden changes in the life of Nasiib and her thoughts and attitudes. 

This book shows the complicated life of those who have left home and try to make another home. 

Yasmine Allas – De generaal met de zes vingers – 2000

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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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