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Feb 2022: Segu

Segu by Maryse Condé

Fiction suggested by Janet

Set in an 18th century African kingdom and based on actual events, examines the cultural transformations brought about by the rise of Islam coming from the east and the slave trade coming from the west.

From Amazon – Segu follows the life of Dousika Traore, the king’s most trusted advisor, and his four sons, whose fates embody the forces tearing at the fabric of the nation. There is Tiekoro, who renounces his people’s religion and embraces Islam; Siga, who defends tradition, but becomes a merchant; Naba, who is kidnapped by slave traders; and Malobali, who becomes a mercenary and halfhearted Christian.

Based on actual events, Segu transports the reader to a fascinating time in history, capturing the earthy spirituality, religious fervor, and violent nature of a people and a growing nation trying to cope with jihads, national rivalries, racism, amid the vagaries of commerce.