Book: Left Side Shadow of the Sun by Ife Fyne-Nsoforcategories: Book, Uganda, Child Soldier, Africa, War, Romance, Freedom, Fight, Survival, Blood, Death, Hate, Loss, African Writer Biography
Ife Fyne-Nsoforabout this book: I was 20 years old the first time I heard about it. Before then, of course I cared… what went on the world. The injustices, and the pains, and heartache in several parts of the world where I couldn't quite reach. I had my excuses like: I'm not old enough, successful enough, strong enough. What if I get in trouble? What if I get hurt?
I was coming out of the auditorium at my university when I saw the poster advertising a showing of documentary on child soldiers in Uganda.
I didn't know what it was, what it was about… the poster didn't give much of a clue about what it was about, and I almost didn't go.
I was 20 years old the first time I heard about the child soldiers of Uganda. 20. And that night, when it was done, I was born again.
I remember not believing it while I was watching it. I remember waiting for it to be over so that the credits would roll, and even though it would say it was based on a true story, I would suffice it to say that there had been a level of exaggeration and that it couldn't possibly be that bad. How can I live with myself if it were in fact that bad?
Then I cried. Uncontrollably. I was angry. I was angry at myself, at Kony, at Africa, at God, at whoever made that documentary for exposing the shame that was my living this faith I so righteously professed so conveniently.
I cried because I didn't know what to do. I asked God what to do, because I had a million things going in my mind clouded still by a great deal of anger. I was really angry at Africa. I asked God why Africa was always in war. I asked God why Africa couldn't get it together. Why someone wouldn't just fix the problems in Africa, or at least, start.
Then God asked me, are you not an African?
I had that Moses at the red sea moment where he is frantically asking God to help. God asks him "Why are you crying to me? What is that you are holding in your hand? " With that rod, that simple wooden rod, Moses would become so much more than a shepherd and save a nation.
I didn't have money. I didn't have the appropriate degrees, I didn't have the anything really. But I had the gift of words. I had the gift of storytelling.
I didn't just want to tell yet another story that anybody had read. I didn't want to tell an impressive tale that tugged at you and then you put it down and move on with your life.
I imagined these kids were my friends, my neighbors, my children. I imagined they were me. I imagined they were forgotten, alone, afraid, and lonely. I imagined them preached to about a salvation they cannot believe. A redemption they cannot feel. A future they cannot afford. I wanted people to shed so much more than tears. To feel so much more than pity. To make so much more than excuses. I wanted what those children wanted. Freedom that you could touch.
So I wrote. Then deleted it. Then wrote it again. Sometimes, I'd almost start to forget the despair of the very first time I'd made that promise. I'd look at them again, and I'd remember. I had Nancy, and Jacob, and Sarah, and Okello, and Gloria, and Anna, and Eliza. They went with me everywhere and they would whisper to me a story that went beyond the statistics, beyond the evening report, to human beings, to hearts, to souls, to breaths.
It is done now, I suppose… it had to be done sometime. I was surprised at how difficult I found myself in letting it go. I suppose in writing it I didn't realize that these children were becoming my family. These villages were becoming my villages. These parents were becoming my parents. But their story was bigger. It was meant to be told, to be heard, to be acted upon. It was my way of saying to them, I heard you, I felt you, I will never forget about you. I love you.
My name is Ife Fyne-Nsofor, and I am the author of Left Side Shadow of the Sun.
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