Anthropologist, poet and novelist Jackson returned to Sierra Leone in 2002, after some 30 years' absence, at a time when the West African country was emerging from a violent 11-year civil war. In the 1970s, Jackson had lived among Sierra Leone's Kuranko people, conducting ethnographic fieldwork. He returned to ghostwrite the autobiography of his old friend, the eminent politician Sewa Bockarie Marah--known as""SB""--leader of Sierra Leone's People's Party. Jackson was eager also to record the stories of ordinary people, visiting amputee and refugee camps in order to gather their horrific survival stories. This book mingles the two projects; it captures both the intensity of high politics, by relating SB's (otherwise unwritten) biography, and the traumas of the common people. Attempting to make sense of the roots of rebel violence, Jackson focuses on intermale relations, in SB's family and in the tapestry of Kuranko social life in general.""Acts of violence are prepared over long periods of time, often in the subconscious,"" he writes. At what point did the traditional reciprocity of village life fail a younger generation of men who craved power? How do the anxieties of powerlessness and marginalization play into the dynamics of revolution? Citing Hannah Arendt and Pierre Bourdieu, among other philosophers, Jackson shies away from easy generalizations. Instead, he offers a more tentative and open-ended meditation on a country whose belief systems, folktales and values he has studied extensively. The result is a melancholic, reflective and informed work that will fascinate readers wishing to learn more about West African politics and people. B&w photos, maps.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2004 Release date: 04/01/2004 Genre: Nonfiction