Title: Zahrah the Windseeker
Author: Nnedi Okorafor – Mbachu
Published by: Kachifo Farafina
Year of Publication: 2007
Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
In the northern Ooni Kingdom fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen year old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal kid – she grows her own flora computer; has mirrors sewn onto her cloths; and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle.
But unlike other kids in the village of Kirki , Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks. Only her best friend, Dari, isn’t afraid of her – even when something unusual begins happening to her – something that definitely makes her different.
Zahrah is a young girl that just wants to be normal. But that’s not going to happen since her status as a “dada” makes her anything but incognito. Born with a feature associated with bad luck, witchcraft and many terrifying legends. This makes her a ripe target for bullying at school. And the only thing keeping her sane is her friendship with Dari.
Dari is the antithesis of Zahrah. He is charming, popular, confident, and is an inquisitive mind. This explains his initial attraction to Zahrah. But his inquisitive nature also gets them into the trouble that sends Zahrah on her quest.
When Zahrah begins to develop strange abilities, she can fly, associated with her dada-ness. She confides in her best friend who in turn convinces her the place to practice her new gift is the forbidden jungle. A place the citizens of the Ooni Kingdom do well to avoid. Given its legend for the ability to turn the few people crazy or stupid enough to go in mad, into mutants or just dead. Sure enough, they get into trouble, Dari ends up in a coma and Zahrah goes off to find a “mythical” cure.
This book blew my mind for several reasons, the biggest one being the world building. I have never seen an African setting presented like this and it is amazing!!! The fact that all the characters are African in this unique setting was difficult for my mind to process. because it’s so unlike anything I’m used to and I kept thinking: “This could be an animated film”. I wish… Have you ever seen an all black (African) children animation before?
This book is all about facing your fears, accepting yourself for who you are, friendship. It is a great coming of age story set in a fantastical African Nation.
This book is AWESOME, even if it wasn’t such a smooth read for me. It had a fascinating start. But grew a bit tedious when Zahrah was alone in the jungle; I just wasn’t that into the plants, insects and what not.
There were some notable animals in there though. Like the 2 headed tortoise that was as big as a car. Okay, I have mixed feelings about the middle which, i believe, could be engaging for younger readers. There was a nice recovery towards the end of the quest which was exhilarating after the drudgery of the last 30 or 50 pages (Lol).
I’ll recommend this for children, that is the target audience anyways. Maybe preteens and adults that will read anything (like moi!!) also.
Have you read this book? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
“…It’s OK to care what other people think, but you should give a little more weight to what you, yourself, think.”
“…Though I knew I shouldn’t have cared, the words still hurt like pinches. And pinches can be very painful when done in the same place many times in a row.”