A novel review by acclaimed actress, director and screenwriter Anni Domingo
Coverage of a book launch is never exclusive to a news agency, especially when it comes to an icon whose works have been widely recognized. However, The African Magazine was privileged to have acclaimed actress, director and writer Anni Domingo write an exclusive feature on her just-released debut novel, Breaking the Maafa Chain, an epic journey of loss, survival and of hope. The novel, which won the Myriad Editions First Novel competition and featured in the anthology New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby, is based on the true story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, abolitionist and goddaughter of Queen Victoria.
Breaking the Chain Maafa, the African Holocaust, takes the reader back to December 1846, when two sisters, Fatmata and Salimatu, were captured and sold as slaves. But the two sisters ended up having two different paths in life: Fatmata, whose name was changed to Faith, was taken to America where slavery was still the law of the land, while her sister Salimatu, who was renamed Sarah, found herself in England where slavery had been abolished and became the goddaughter of Queen Victoria.
In the brilliant piece written just for The African, which she titled ‘Time travel in search of Sarah’, Anni Domingo – who is currently a lecturer in theater and directing at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in the UK—writes: “Historical fiction made me a time traveler. Breaking the Maafa Chain, my first novel, told by two characters, one real and one fictional, takes place in West Africa and Victorian England. From the start, I wanted the reader to travel with me through the veil of time, into the imaginary inner lives of real people and imaginary people, real times and places. I knew the novel would be set in the Victorian era, but how do I bring Sarah, a real-life historical figure, and Faith, her fictional sister, into this fictional form? »
In her beautiful prose, the seasoned actress weaves the cruelty of the slave trade, harrowing facts from African history, and the thirst that guided her efforts to gather the ingredients to write a captivating and true story: “Where it is possible, I will visit the place, building, street. I walk in Hyde Park, I go to a village in Sierra Leone and in the Gullah, in North Carolina. I want to see what Sarah and Faith could see, feel, touch. I gather so much information piled up in my head, it’s like an iceberg – most of it will remain invisible.
About the African magazine:
L’African is the first African magazine published in the United States, dating back to 1994. Founded by award-winning veteran journalist Soumanou Salifou with one foot in Africa and the other in the United States, the pioneering magazine has online and print versions . . It brings readers original reporting on African-American relations in politics and business, with a focus on the historical and cultural ties between Africa and Black America. The groundbreaking magazine received a rave review in the Library Journal in 1999 and a warm congratulatory letter from then US President George H. W. Bush in 2002. Salifou majored in African Studies and American Civilization at several universities Africans, and is an alumnus of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.
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