The Hundred Wells Of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah.
Published by: Other Press
Release Date: February 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher (Review Copy)
Based on true events, a story of courage, forgiveness, love, and freedom. In precolonial Ghana, told through the eyes of two women born to vastly different fates.
Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home. Forced on a journey that transforms her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court.
These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens the region. During the height of the slave trade at the end of the nineteenth century.
Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, The Hundred Wells of Salaga offers a remarkable view of slavery. And how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.
I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out where to approach this review from and I know exactly what has me stumped. According to the blurb, The Hundred Wells Of Salaga would appeal to lovers of Homegoing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this comparison out of my head as I read this book mainly because the plots are so similar.
Having said that and struggled to shove Homegoing out of my mind, The Hundred Wells Of Salaga does tell a compelling story around a subject that doesn’t get much attention in literature and beyond: Internal Slavery in Africa.
This book narrates events from the point of views of 2 wildly different characters: Aminah and Wurche. Aminah, a small town girl who finds herself torn from her life as she knows it by slave raiders. Wurche, a princess who is way ahead of her time and is incredibly ambitious. Wurche wishes for more involvement in “state matters” and as such provides unique insights into the infighting and politics that ruled the day.
Now while slavery and politics were the major themes in The Hundred Wells Of Salaga, there were elements of romance here too. Mostly on Wurche’s part. As you can imagine, Aminah had more pressing issues to focus on. Through the course of their individual paths, these women find their way to each other.
Unfortunately, at this point, we start to lose Aminah’s voice. This is understandable given the dynamic between her and Wurche but I would have loved if the relationship between these two wasn’t skewered towards the whims of one person. And towards the end, the story starts to feel a bit forced and I kept waiting for something to revive my interest again.
Many times it felt like The Hundred Wells Of Salaga wasn’t reaching its full potential. It had all the ingredients to be a memorable book but I just wasn’t connecting with it on that level. As I said, I couldn’t stop thinking about Homegoing as I read this. It just felt too familiar. like I was visiting an old friend only to find that they changed their whole look.
Contrary to the blurb, I’ll recommend this book to someone who hasn’t read Homegoing yet. Because once you become aware of the similarity to The Hundred Wells Of Salaga, it’s hard to unsee it in every page.