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Autobiography Gives Child's Eye View of West African Regime Change and Family Fallout
Date:4/26/2010

est, he eventually fled in fear of his life and vanished from sight, leaving his family to cope.

His wife, Florence, and children endured the status of outcasts as they stood by him, sometimes afraid for their own safety. On his departure they had no choice but to stay in Burkina-Faso, living a life of ostracism and encroaching impoverishment as they remained faithful to the memory of a man whom they might well never see again, paying a high price for the public loyalty that became ever more difficult for them to justify to themselves. It was in this environment that the little Nathalia Zongo grew up, striving to help her mother raise her three brothers – the baby of whom was for a long time sick and thought unlikely to live – to maintain her love for her father and to avert the break-up of her ever more troubled family.

Zongo’s story is not of high politics or state drama, though they are the backdrop. It is an autobiography by a child caught in the crossfire of history that takes a truly child’s eye view of how to carry on regardless. It is deeply personal, the plight of her father, mother, brothers and self seen through the eyes of a little one who has to find maturity before her time, living the daily reality of struggle, not only to survive but to understand what it all means. Part of Zongo’s skill as an author lies in remaining steadfastly inside the head of a five year old, then a ten year old, an ‘awkward’ teen and eventually a young woman, without the encroachment of hindsight or adult values.

At the age of 21, Zongo finally left her homeland for New York – an alien speaking very few words of English – where she not only learned the language but became a successful college student and, in very little time, the accomplished author of this autobiography, first published in the US in 2007. A little over a year ago she moved to the UK, where she lives today and where
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