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This is a true story from deepest Africa. In 1954 a healthy baby girl is born in unusual circumstances and her mother dies, never regaining consciousness. Neither is able to make even the briefest eye contact with the other despite having been as one for nine months. The little girl’s father, distraught at his wife’s death, cannot bear to take his daughter home and she is left in the care of the hospital authorities. She is technically an orphan, and officially becomes one, when her father dies 5 years later. During this 5 year period the father remarries and makes amends by taking the young girl home and bonding with her and, in this brief period, they grow to love each other. However, the stepmother feels no affinity towards her and a fractious relationship between the two females descends into real hate. This is exacerbated by the fact that, in Nigeria, the girl is considered to be a witch and, worse, the murderer of her mother. She must work for anyone but belongs to no-one and is fed, accommodated, and educated only on the whim of numerous relatives, aunties, uncles, and the grandfathers whom she loves the most. But when the grandfathers die she is cast into the abyss of African custom and predatory males and, while developing great beauty, builds incredible tactics and defences to enable her to survive, against the odds. Ironically, she is saved by a brutal war when, at the tender age of 13, she becomes a child soldier spy and an active service heroine to her comrades, who reward this by discharging her after wrongly accusing her of being a saboteur (turncoat) following her capture and torture by the enemy. This war, so detrimental to most of the population of Biafra, finally shapes her future and, surviving where a million have died, she goes on to struggle through many more adversities (complicated by a web of pagan beliefs, superstition, Christianity and the vestiges of colonialism) to find temporary security on many occasions, but inevitably returning to the seemingly unequal contest. Five well-balanced and variously successful children will testify that their place in the world was fashioned by the dedication, love and sense of purpose of this extraordinary woman. But it doesn’t end there…..

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