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SAHWIRA by Carolyn Marsden

SAHWIRA

An African Friendship

By Carolyn Marsden (Author) , Philip Matzigkeit (Author)

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3575-6
Publisher: Candlewick

An unlikely friendship between an African boy and white American is tested during the buildup to the Rhodesian civil war in Marsden’s collaboration with her cousin. Evan, 12, finds his life uprooted when his missionary parents relocate to Rhodesia. But his apprehensions fade after he forms a close bond with Blessing, a Shona, whose father is the mission’s pastor. From the outset, Blessing’s loyalty to his friend is clear: “Even if Evan were taking him into a pit of hungry lions, Blessing would have gone. He considered Evan his sahwira, a friend closer than a brother.” What inspires this deep commitment, however, remains unclear. Their lopsided friendship seems to consist of Evan issuing a series of bossy commands, his remarks “declared” and “ordered.” As tensions between black Africans and white settlers flare around them, the boys grow increasingly unsure of their roles in the conflict—and their friendship. Terms like “communist” and “treason” are used freely, setting up a sophisticated ideological battle for young readers with insubstantial knowledge of the event; a concluding author’s note provides some background. (glossary) (Historical fiction. 9-13)