I chose this rating not because this is a literary piece of genius but because it is a great story, well told with earnest and unpretentious humour and easy style. The subject matter however is rare and important. The book exposes a world where mainstream beliefs based on fear and ignorance are so fickle and destructive that children’s lives can be at best wrecked and sent hurtling in a direction of destitution and extreme vulnerability at worst ending in the most inhuman cruel treatment. The fragility of life in such a society is palpable. Yet the book makes this context accessible through the eyes of a quirky characters you can relate to, like or dislike, and a humour that really grows on you. I say read this book !
Brilliant book - so much packed into it. Other reviews have told you about the subject and storyline so I wont repeat all of it - but you should know that what you get here is an insight into a culture that appears so far removed from our own and yet full of human frailty and emotion that we instantly identify with it. You understand what Dudu is going through even if the very idea of being accused of being witch is something we see as belonging to the Dark Ages, not the space ages. We follow his progress as he escapes the barbaric consequences of the false accusation and begins a journey to who knows where - a journey that is fraught with danger and takes Dudu into the full harshness of reality in post civil war DRC where superstition and danger lurk around every corner. He and his travel companion, a much harder and aware fellow who has been robbed of his innocence and trust and has learned to live off his wits as he searches for his brother. Their relationship is central to the desperate adventure. The background and context is provided by the story of Frank, a journalist working for a US NGO attempting to train journalists and make a real difference but being frustrated in the process by post war politics and people following agendas of their own. He becomes aware of the child witch superstition and the resulting abuse of innocent children and finds himself drawn to it. If all this wasn't enough we also get the backdrop of Frank's long suffering wife back in suburban UK struggling to run a family with an addition on the way whilst worrying about her absentee partner. A wonderfully complex novel written in a cleverly relaxed style filled with drama, excitement, education and humour. If like me you have never been to Africa, you will feel as though you have when you put the book down. Should be book of the year! Looking forward to reading the sequel.
Mike has taken what is sadly still a taboo suject - children accused of witchraft in a country torn apart by civil war and the legacies of colonialism, and made it accessible to readers who might not previously have been aware of such goings on. It's not easy to read about what is essentially child abuse, but by injecting a dry humour into the book, from all involved, the story is one that will still grab you and pull you in, but not necessarily distress you to the point of inaction. When faced with such atrocities in reality, humour is an essential means of dealing with the experience, and Mike has captured this survival strategy perfectly.
The book is meticulously researched, and a blessing for those of us who want to read about and introduce others to, human rights issues. It's so obviously a labour of love, and one that I felt I had to savour, not least because I don't want to wait too long before the second part is released! Please keep on writing Mike - the world needs books such as this!
This book needs a wide readership. Not only for the deeply-felt but utterly unsentimental story of likable characters in a tragic farce, but to understand something of the real and continuing horror of life for so many in Congo.
If I’d not been given this book, I doubt very much that I’d have bought it, not wanting to encounter something horrid in the dark continent. But I’m grateful that I did.
A writer who can make a witty and compelling story of the brutal and the brutalised, Mike Ormsby creates rich and credible characters: Dudu, a sweet-natured innocent discarded like a broken toy, Frank, the innocent abroad who wants to help and only makes things worse; and Ruth, his pregnant, pissed-off wife left to cope in London. A full cast of misfits, villains, do-gooders, bullshitters and clay-footed saints are all drawn in detail to make this a remarkably human and oddly optimistic book.
Ormsby paints Congo as a steamy kaleidoscope, so rich in sensual detail that it was a shock to look up from the book and find myself in Europe; the London settings seem bland and soft by contrast, although I loved Ormsby’s Richmond Park.
I have to get the sequel ASAP – the ending of this book is an intake of breath before the water closes over one’s head.
Very few people want to talk about the issue of children accused of witchcraft. Believe me, I know. As Chair of Stop Child Witch Accusations (http://stop-cwa.org/) and Director of a charity that enables local partners in DRCongo to address witchcraft accusations against children, I spend a lot of time and energy trying to engage people with this issue. But at last I have a resource in ‘Child Witch Kinshasa’ that can help people to learn about it in a way that is non-threatening, stimulating and enriching. Beautifully written, this book is totally authentic. Not only does Ormsby accurately evoke what life is like for the beleaguered and long-suffering people of DRCongo, he also powerfully portrays what life is like for the many thousands of children in DRCongo who are accused of witchcraft. Ormsby’s skilful and compassionate descriptions ‘ring true’, and through this book, he has become a champion for children whose plight has been ignored and hidden for far too long. Read it, spread the word, and help stop this widespread persecution against children.
Mike Ormsby's book had me captivated. It is not a book to read just before bedtime, as the images evoked haunted my mind. Nonetheless, it is brilliant in the way it presents one of the most difficult and politically charged subjects in our world today - witchcraft accusations and persecutions (WAP).
I have worked in the field of human and child rights at international policy levels for almost a decade, focusing in part on the issue of street children. Through this work, I came across the issue of child witchcraft accusations, initially in Nigeria - many children are on the street due to being accused of witchcraft by self-proclaimed pastors and subsequently have either run away or been pushed out of their communities. It quickly became obvious that this issue was not limited to just one country, but that witchcraft beliefs, accusations and persecutions still occur worldwide, including in 'developed' countries, and that it is much more prevalent that we might think.
In order to help shed some much needed light on this issue and it's depth and breadth, the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) was set up. Here we aim to share information, data and research, and support those working in the field of social work to recognise and respond to signs of WAP. Mike Ormsby's book is timely, informative and enlightening on this issue. It captures the trauma, survival, hope and desolation that WAP have on individual lives, communities and on societies as a whole, and expertly weaves two separate narratives, lives and cultures together. The book makes us question our own belief systems as well - who hasn't looked for 'signs' or read into an incident to explain or justify a particular situation? Which of us haven't been a little worried when a black cat crossed our path or chosen an alternative route instead of walking under a ladder? The book doesn't judge or justify, but it does show us that there is an innate human condition which looks to explain that which is out of our control. It also highlights what is (or is not) being done by international NGOs, UN agencies, and Governments to address the issue of WAP. The problem is not a lot and certainly not enough. There are no quick fixes for this issue, but nevertheless it must be addressed. WAP is the cause of large, but relatively unknown, human rights abuses worldwide. A concerted cross-sector approach, bringing together a wide variety of religions and beliefs, must be enacted. But first we must recognise and acknowledge the issue, it's causes and effects; Mike Ormsby's book helps us to do just that. I therefore can not recommend the book highly enough to anyone, and I hope it gets a large readership.
The author writes with great authority from three different view points - Frank Kean, a journalism trainer out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his partner Ruth, left back at home with the children in the London suburbs, and the eponymous Dudu. Ormsby shows great skill in writing totally convincingly from all three of these perspectives, and the tension grows as Frank gets deeper and deeper into the indigenous society and Dudu gets deeper into... well, that would be telling. The strands interweave towards a traumatic climax - and that's only the beginning. Can't wait for the next volume, where the action would appear to be heading for London.Child Witch Kinshasa: 1
After reading Ormsby's hillarious Never Mind The Balkans book, I decided to see what else this author had to offer, and although Witch Child Kinshasa was a radically different book, again it did not disappoint - a very intriguing insight into African beliefs surrounding sorcery and witchaft.So much so I am now reading and enjoying his follow up Witch Child London.
I found this novel informative ,entertaining,realistic,amusing and vary well written.The dual setting provided a telling contrast between the cultures of the Congo and the middle class concerns of London suburbia as seen through the eyes of a western journalist. There was never a suggestion of condescension only a realistic presentation of convincing characters and credible situations. there is a lightness of touch in the author's creation of characters and events but also an essential realism which engages the reader throughout. As a first novel it is impressive and I look forward to Mike Ormsby's next work with interest and expectation.
A fabulous book, right from the first chapter - an intriguing subject matter in a country I know very little about.
The dialogue was great, I felt I was in the Congo too, listening and watching the events uncurl, and not just reading ''a book''. I loved the refreshing way it was written, the honesty of the characters, the reality of their situation in a tricky environment.
This book would appeal to those who have traveled just little, and also those that have explored a lot - you just won't want to put the book down. A great insight into another world that most of us will never see first hand.
The only ''complaint'' was wanting to keep on reading, and turning out the light at 2am was not good mid-week! I am so looking forward to the next one, and more late nights reading!