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“I am a human being; I am a woman; I am a black woman; I am an African. Once I was free; then I was captured and became a slave; but inside me, I have never been a slave; inside me, here and here, I am still a free woman.”During a period of 400 years, European slave traders ferried some 12 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. In the Americas, teaching a slave to read and write was a criminal offense. When the last slaves gained their freedom in Brazil, barely a thousand of them were literate. Hardly any stories of the enslaved and transported Africans have survived.This novel is an attempt to recreate just one of those stories. It is a story, just one of a possible 12 million or more.Lawrence Hill created another in The Book of Negroes (Someone Knows my Name, in the U.S.) and, more recently, Yaa Gyasi has done the same in the early chapters of Homegoing.As the story opens, Ama is sixteen. Distant drums announce the death of her grandfather. Her family departs to attend the funeral, leaving her alone to tend her ailing baby brother.It is 1775. Asante has conquered its northern neighbor and exacted an annual tribute of 500 slaves. The ruler of the Dagbon dispatches a mounted raiding party into the lands of the neighboring Bekpokpam. They capture Ama.That night, her lover, Itsho, leads an attack on the raiders’ camp. The rescue bid fails. Sent to collect water from a stream, Ama comes across Itsho’s mangled corpse. For the rest of her life she will call upon his spirit...


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