In 1775 a young African woman is captured and enslaved.
This novel tells the story of her life.
INSCRIPTION AT ELMINA CASTLE
A book written with tremendous moral passion about a monstrous episode in human history.
The Right Reverend Bishop Richard Holloway, Chairperson for the pan-Commonwealth judging panel, author and former Bishop of Edinburgh.
A monumental work, epic in scope and design, and clearly the result of extensive research, which has been skilfully woven into an enchanting narrative. This panoramic story, with its vividly realised characters and heroic action, restores the ancient link between history and literature.
Ama is a story of struggle, resistance and inner strength. Great attention is paid to detail and the descriptions are atmospheric and sensual . . .this is a notable debut which amply deserves its recognition, in particular because of the deep research which underlies the text.
Rayda Jacobs, Rapport (South Africa) 29/06/02
(Translated from Afrikaans by Manu Herbstein)
Best First Book: Commonwealth Writers Prize 2002
Nominated for the 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
New: A new edition of Ama was published by Picador Africa in 2005. The book was launched at the Slave Lodge, Adderley Street, Cape Town and at Xarra Bookstore, 1 Central Place, Jeppe Street, Newtown, Johannesburg South Africa 2000 tel 011 832-3069 fax +27 82 825-7927 http://www.xarrabooks.com
These photographs are from the Joburg launch.
Photo by Author
Manu Herbstein (author), Victor Kgomoeswana (Reviewer), Kays Mguni (Xarra Books), John Matshikiza (Chairperson)
Photo by Xarra
Read the latest reviews of Ama. More . . .
This website wins prestigious award.
The gold at the ritzy South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s Innovative Use Of New Media Awards 2003 at the Highway Africa conference went to . . . Manu Herbstein's www.ama.africatoday.com . . . announced winner of the individual category at the awards ceremony at the Settler's Monument in Grahamstown September 8, 2003. More . . .
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This novel is an attempt to recreate the experience of
enslavement and resistance, seen from the point of view of one African
In 1772, the musketeers of the army of the Asante Confederacy vanquished the archers and cavalry of the Kingdom of Dagomba. The victor exacted from the defeated enemy an annual tribute of five hundred slaves.
Ama, then known by her birth-name, Nandzi, is left alone to care for her baby brother. She is captured, raped and enslaved. Her name is taken from her. She fights back; she is defeated. She escapes; and is recaptured. From the moment when she loses her freedom, her life oscillates between resistance to her successive owners and a reluctant accommodation to their power. The Dagomba give her to the Asante; the Asante sell her to the Dutch. On board an English slave ship, she instigates a rebellion; and suffers a terrible retribution when it fails. In Brazil, where eighteen-hour work shifts send slaves to an early death, she attempts to build a new life. Sustained by ancient beliefs, Ama's spirit never wavers. Enslaved she might have been, but to herself she is never a slave. Read the first chapter on-line at www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook627.htm
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