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The Hundred Wells of Salaga, by Ayesha Harruna Attah.

November 29, 2018

The Hundred Wells of Salaga
The Hundred Wells of Salaga, by Ayesha Harruna Attah.  Other Press, February 2019.

4 stars


A novel set in the region of present-day Ghana at the time of the slave trade focusing on two women, one the daughter of a chief and the other a woman who becomes her slave.

Ayesha Harruna Attah was born in 1983 in Ghana where her parents ran a literary magazine at a time when the country was under military rule.  She came to the United States where she studied biochemistry to Mount Holyoke, Columbia University and New York University.  She has published two previous, award-winning novels and a non-fiction book. She now lives in Senegal.

Attah sets her book in the region which would become Ghana in the nineteenth century as the slave trade was declining and Europeans were competing to acquire African territories.  Chaotic violence was widespread, disrupting the lives of a variety of people.  Not only were Africans fighting Europeans, Africans fought each other as German and British forces competed for their alliances.  The book follows the paths of two women; Aminah, captured from her home village and made a slave and Wurche, a chief’s daughter and an active member of his court. Their lives connect when Aminah becomes a slave of Wurche.

For many of us in the West, knowledge of African history is shallow and simplistic.  Attah shows us how complex life was for women caught up in international struggles.  I recommend this book, especially for readers who would like to understand more about the African past.

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