Diversity Spotlight Thursday# October 6th

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks . Please click on this link to get more details about the feature.


To take part all you need to do is answer the following questions:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

The books on my list this week have different types of conflict as a main theme. One is set in Sierra Leone and is about a child soldier. The second one is about the Rwanda Genocide. I have also listed an upcoming book about the civil rights movement and lastly, there is a book about slavery.

A Book I Have Read

memoirs of a boy soldierA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Baeh

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

My Thoughts: This is the only book that I have ever read set in Sierra Leone. It is also the only one that I have read about a child soldier. I have watched movies and documentaries about kids who have been forced to take part in wars that they don’t even understand but Ishamel Baeh’s story stands out because it is his own personal account. It allows readers to view war from a child’s eyes.

A Book on my TBR

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philliptommorwo you will be killed.jpg Gourevitch

In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months, 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide’s background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.

My thoughts and experience with ethnic conflict:

I have read a number of books about the Rwanda genocide. I have also watched Hotel Rwanda and One Day in April; two heart breaking movies about the genocide. In 100 days, almost 1,000, 000 million people were killed in Rwanda. It is heartbreaking to see how human beings can turn on each other. There are a lot of lessons that we can learn from Rwanda.

Ethnicity has been an issue in my country, Kenya and in December, 2007, post-election violence erupted leaving hundreds of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. It was a very tense, scary time. 40 people (of my ethnicity) were burned alive in a church at the start of the violence. I remember one night; we received a warning that our houses would get burnt. There was no time to move away and travelling seemed more dangerous than staying. I have never felt fear like that before. I can’t even describe it but it felt like a thousand pins all over my body. I remember crouching down at the balcony (it seemed safer to stay there in case the house is torched) late at night praying that we would not get attacked. I was with our house help and she was shaking so much the whole time. She was from a different ethnic group that wasn’t really being targeted at the time but she still chose to stay with us despite the risks. Watching and waiting for the unknown. We survived the night but had to wait for the next night to leave the area and go somewhere safer. My family had a white car and we had to drive with no headlights. The moonlight that night was a blessing and a curse. Lucky for Kenya, the international community intervened. The UN, USA and even other African Nations came in to help bring back some sanity into the country and after 2 months of conflict, peace was restored. However, this violence made me realize just how fast a country can go up in flames. One minute you are at home watching the news and then you see something happening in a town far away and you don’t even think much about it because of the distance and the assumption that it will be contained. Weeks go by and it hits you that there is a real problem and then one night, you are crouching down on your balcony wondering if you will survive the night.

This is why these books are important. They tell us about what happened in places such as Rwanda while reminding us that if we are not careful, the same can happen to us too. No country is immune to conflict. It could be religious, ethnic, racial, and political, things can just go bad if people are not careful.

Two Books that have not yet been released

preachingPreaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim

Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis.
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice.
Celebrating ingenuity and dreaming big, this inspirational story, featuring Jabari Asim’s stirring prose and E. B. Lewis’s stunning, light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings, includes an author’s note about John Lewis, who grew up to be a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and demonstrator on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. John Lewis is now a Georgia congressman, who is still an activist today, recently holding a sit-in on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol to try to force a vote on gun violence.

As part of my Masters course, I took a unit in conflict and we tackled the civil rights movement in US. We focused mainly on the Selma march and voting rights and we also studied Martin Luther King’s works. I heard about John Lewis then though very briefly. I can’t wait to read more about him.

persimmonThe Life and Times of Perismmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock

Sitting in a jail cell on the eve of his hanging, April 1, 1875, freedman Persimmon “Persy” Wilson wants nothing more than to leave some record of the truth—his truth. He may be guilty, but not of what he stands accused: the kidnapping and rape of his former master’s wife.

In 1860, Persy had been sold to Sweetmore, a Louisiana sugar plantation, alongside a striking, light-skinned house slave named Chloe. Their deep and instant connection fueled a love affair and inspired plans to escape their owner, Master Wilson, who claimed Chloe as his concubine. But on the eve of the Union Army’s attack on New Orleans, Wilson shot Persy, leaving him for dead, and fled with Chloe and his other slaves to Texas. So began Persy’s journey across the frontier, determined to reunite with his lost love. Along the way, he would be captured by the Comanche, his only chance of survival to prove himself fierce and unbreakable enough to become a warrior. His odyssey of warfare, heartbreak, unlikely friendships, and newfound family would change the very core of his identity and teach him the meaning and the price of freedom.

This book has been compared with The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and is said to be inspired by true events. I have requested it on NetGalley and hopefully,my request will be approved.

Have you read any of these books? Which other books would you recommend that I add to my TBR. If you participated in this weekly feature, please leave your link in the comments section and I will visit your post.

9 thoughts on “Diversity Spotlight Thursday# October 6th

  1. Thank you for this and for sharing your own story. That must have been terrifying for you. I read Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga recently. She recounts her childhood growing up Tutsi in Rwanda, which was horrific. She escaped the country prior to the massacre but does recount what happened to her family and talks of her own guilt for not being there. It’s heartbreaking.

    1. I haven’t read that book but would definitely be interested to.Thanks for mentioning it. I will look for that. There is also another book that I read called Left to Tell by Immacullee Ilibigiza. She was also a Tutsi and she spent 98 days of the genocide locked in a bathroom. The book is based on her personal story.It is so heartbreaking and terrifying.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Diana. I’m so glad that you were safe but that must have been so horrible.

    I’m interested in the John Lewis book. He mentions the chickens in his graphic novel March Book One. I’ve read the first two of those and they’re excellent!

    1. Thank you Laila. I didn’t know there were other books on John Lewis. Is it a series? Id like to check them out too. Thanks for mentioning that.

    1. Now that’s a great find. Its a really good, inspiring memoir. Let me know when you read it. I read it a while before this blog so I never got to review it but I hope to reread it soon.

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