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The truth about Daddy The Devil That Danced on the Water A Daughters Memoir Aminatta Forna 409pp HarperCollins When western television screens began to show women and children with amputated limbs and other devastating evidence emerged of the descent into violence in Sierra Leones civil war in the late 1990s the crude explanation was that a generation of drug-fuelled youths had been incited by diamond-hungry Lebanese and Liberians to rebel against the corrupt and incompetent status quo Aminatta Fornas story of her fathers execution on trumped-up treason charges 25 years before anyone had heard of the Revolutionary United Front gives a more personal framework for understanding the horror of the 1990s in the linked wars of Sierra Leone Liberia and Guinea Mohamed Forna was probably the most brilliant man of his generation in Sierra Leone - a doctor trained in Scotland a finance minister who became a spokesman for many poor developing countries and an opposition leader who embodied the hopes of Sierra Leoneans that independence would bring health and education to all At the end of the 1960s on the brink of his political career he was warned by the powerful politician who would be his nemesis that he had perhaps spent too much time in England Dr Forna he said had failed to understand that in Africa politics and violence were inseparable Extreme orchestrated violence was already the norm of the two dominant political parties in Sierra Leone Coups arrests exile and more violence followed For Aminatta the youngest of his three children Dr Forna was the adored and attentive Daddy who commanded her total loyalty through the family and political upheavals that dragged her through nine homes in six years In the first half of the book she conveys vividly both the joy of her life with her parents in small-town Sierra Leone on the cusp of independence and the cold years in a caravan park in Scotland followed by a
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