Then She Was Born is both a novel and a wake-up call to join an international human rights awareness campaign (also supported by eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis).
This call for racial healing is based on an inconceivable reality of the living conditions of Africans with albinism, but one that author Cristiano Gentili found to be true during a fact-finding trip to Tanzania.
He fictionalized the plight of African albinos into the heart-breaking, shocking story of a girl named Adimu, born into a rural village on an island off Tanzania, where superstitions about the magical powers and curses associated with albinos were alive and causing trauma and death to those born with this genetic defect.
In the book’s Dedication, the author writes:
“I fear you because you are different. I hunt you because I fear you. You are different, you are few, you are unearthly. Suspended between two worlds, you are out of my control and, just like the gods, you may be our blackest disgrace or the gold of our fortune. And yet you cry and laugh as I do. Are you, or are you not, human?”
Then She Was Born is not only a page-turning story of how Adimu survives, ostracized by her family who feel she is a curse, except for her grandmother, who keeps her safe until her own death. Then, Adimu is tricked into thinking she will be taken to a mainland sanctuary and school for albinos, but is instead hunted down and almost killed so that her body parts can be turned into amulets and other sources of fortune for those who do not understand that she is a human being, just like the rest of us.
This book can inspire racial healing, not only among the blacks in Africa – where albinism is still not always understood as a genetic difference – but wherever in the world we fear those who are different than us.
Through this well-told story, we fall in love with Adimu (although she could not be more unlike ourselves) and grieve for her terrible misfortunes. The novel is an engrossing page-turner, but also a real awakening to our own fears, often based on ancient prejudices and superstitions, that must be brought to light and transformed into love.
The official campaign website to increase awareness of the living conditions of Africans with albinism is www.HelpAfricanAlbinos.com.
Then She Was Born is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon.com.