The Libyan wrtiter Ibrahimn al-Koni (1948) has become a wellknown name. His name appears on list, short and long. He was born in the desert that is available in his country of birth, but many years he lived outside his country of birth, even outside the continent of his birth. He studied and worked in the Sovjet Union, he worked in Poland and settled in Switzerland. From socialist countries to the epitome of a capitalistic country. This is the way of one desertboy, a Tuaregboy.

The desert has not left this writer. He tells a tale of the desert. A tale of people and animals. A tale of a rich life that is at the brink of destruction. A tale that blurrs the boundaries between man and animal. The protagonist is the shepherd Assuf. He lives in the desert and remembers his father who lived at the edge of the encroaching ‘civilisation’. Assuf even prefers to hide in the depths of the desert, to be on his own with his animals, animals whom he understands and feels comfortable with.

In the valley he lives a secluded life. In this very same valley people from outside discover murals  (centuries old murals) in caves. Some government offical makes Assuf a custodian of these murals. But Assuf lives his own life and he does not understand the outsiders who come to look at these murals. He even thinks they worship these murals. 

Other invaders pose a threat to the desertlife, not just by using modern technology to gain entrance, but also modern weaponry in eliminating wildlife. For some eating animals is more important than enjoying these creatures and realizing a shared space.

The shepherd himself lives at times at the border between reality and wished and dreamed reality. He tries to survive the onslaught by modern society. He tries to save himself and his animals and the myths that have been created. 

Ibrahim al-Koni – Nazief al-Hadjar – 1990


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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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