I took the wrong order. I first read her second book and now I have read her first book. The writer is the Eritrean Senait Mehari, who now lives in Germany and makes a career in music. This music is a far cry from the life she lived as a childsoldier in the war of independence of the Eritrean people.
Senait had been forced to join of the competing liberators (Eritrean Liberation Front, ELP) by her father who had dumped her at a camp with some siblings. The story is a story of sadness, a lost childhood, a mother who disappeared, a father who disappeared, a child in a children’s home run by Italian nuns, a child neglected and abused and left behind. Her family is from a Coptic background, with a touch of jewishness.
A relative, who lives in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, manages to get the three children out of the country, after they had spent many years in the desert army. They spent some time in the capital. This uncle Haile makes sure the girls get the opportunity to get some education. The girls get the new that their father (and third wife and child) live in Germany. (He dumped his children in the army and moved himself to safety !!). Father wants to have his children with him in Germany, so after seven years Senait (and her stepsisters) is reunited with her father. By this time Senait has reached the age of 13/14 years. Senait adjusts very quickly to Germany, but not to her father. He is still politically minded and supports the old gang of the ELP. Senait gets the opportunity to work as a model, gets a life in music, but the past visits her during her dreamy nights.
Senait decided to track down her mother, and she manges to find her in Eritrea, but the encounter is a deception. She also meets her uncle Haile (who later moves to The Netherlands).
As I wrote, the past is always there. She spends many years in therapy battling her fears and Angst, while she continues working and studying. Her dream is to build a home for her father in Eritrea (I noticed in reading Somalian and Eritrean writers a strong bond that girls have with their father eventhough the girls often heave been neglected and beaten and abused by the very same man).
Reading this book I had some difficulties with the chronology of the story.
(In Germany there were protests against some of the content of the book, and you can do your own research on that on the internet.)
Senait Mehari – Feuerherz – 2004