A letter to his daughter and an ode to the women in his family
‘You asked me to chronicle your grandmother’s life and describe the environment I grew up in.’ With these words, the Liberian-Dutch writer Vamba Sherif opens this tender account to his ten-year-old daughter.
He goes on to describe his happy childhood, growing up in Liberia, in an extensive, female-dominated family of prominent intellectuals and scientists. But when young Vamba breaks unwritten laws, nosing around family documents not intended for his eyes, the verdict is harsh: banishment. He moves to Kuwait, flees to Syria during the Gulf War and eventually ends up in the Netherlands. While the civil war in his native country hits his family hard – he will never see his mother again – Vamba has to fight to survive in Dutch society.
This beautifully written book is the final chapter in that battle: he hopes his daughter will become aware of her African roots, that her father’s life story will become part of her identity. And he gives her life lessons: ‘Be brave. Nothing can destroy your humanity. Only if you allow them will negative experiences get a hold of you.’