Born on a Tuesday - Elnathan John

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Release Date: 2015

Genre: Fiction

Setting: Nigeria

My Rating: 4.5 Stars


Told through the maturing eyes and diary entries if a young boy, Born on a Tuesday is the story of Dantala, a naive but bright Quranic student who falls in with a gang of street boys, surviving on a regime of petty crime, violence and weed. After setting fire to the local headquarters of the opposition party, Dantala is on the run, with images of his slain gang leader in his head. Still reeling from the trauma of events, he stumbles into a salafi mosque in another town.... (source: Book Blurb)

My Thoughts....

When I started this book, which i finished in less than 24hrs, I knew one of two things; 1) I would learn A LOT about Islam and 2) I would for once get to read something from Northern Nigeria which I seldom have. On both premises, I was not disappointed. Wallahi!

Born on a Tuesday tells the story of Dantala (literal translation of Born on a Tuesday) growing up in Northern Nigeria behind the backdrop of violence, hardship, extremism and corruption. Dantala is sent away by his father at a young age to attend Quranic teachings in a different town. When the training concludes, Dantala does not return home and instead joins the street boys ‘almajiris’ who like hanging out under the Kuka tree and brag about the people they have killed. They are often used by politicians to cause trouble.

A violent incident forces Dantala to escape the town and he ends up in a Mosque where he meets Sheikh Jamal, a kind hearted and level headed man who takes him under his wing and Malam Abdul-Nur, Sheikh’s deputy – a recent convert and a budding Islamic extremist.

Northern Nigeria becomes volatile and the different factions of Islam cannot agree on how to approach the current political environment. Malam Abdul-Nur breaks away from the Sheikh and becomes the leader of the Mujahideen – an extremist element of Islam that uses violence to enforce compliance. The government comes in to quell the current violence and all Muslims are bundled up as one – Mujahideen and non-Mujahideen. Dantala finds himself behind bars.

When Sheikh is killed and Dantala defies the police instructions to stop public prayers, I half expected the book to follow the ‘Rise of a Tyrant’ theme, however this was not the case. The events following this episode were quite gut-wrenching.

This book is quite insightful on how extremism begins and grows. It sheds a lot of light on the divisions within Islam and leaves you with that ‘sigh’ feeling at the end. I have a deeper appreciation of Islam as a religion and will in future avoid certain generalisations that most of us are guilty of when we hear of terrorist attacks.

Such a sad and powerful read ko!!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?


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