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This is the extraordinary first-person account of a young woman's coming of age in Somalia and her struggles against the obligations and strictures of family and society. By the time she is nine, Aman has undergone a ritual circumcision ceremony; at eleven, her innocent romance with a white boy leads to a murder; at thirteen she is given away in an arranged marriage to a stranger. Aman eventually runs away to Mogadishu, where her beauty and rebellious spirit leads her to the decadent demimonde of white colonialists. Hers is a world in which women are both chattel and freewheeling entrepreneurs, subject to the caprices of male relatives, yet keenly aware of the loopholes that lead to freedom. Aman is an astonishing history, opening a window onto traditional Somali life and the universal quest for female self-awareness.
Aman's story was originally compiled by Virginia Lee Barnes, an anthropologist (Ph.D., University of Hawaii), and upon her death in 1989, the manuscript was completed by Janice Boddy, distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto, who added an introduction placing Aman's story in its proper historical and social context.
"A rare feat: a glimpse of traditional and modern Africa from a female point of view."
"An intimate, personal account, beautifully eloquent, gripping, and illuminating.... Even more compelling than the ups and downs of Aman's life is what she manages to unveil about her society, religion, and culture."
--Detroit Free Press
"Most impressive.... A remarkable narrative, richly detailed. [Aman] tells her tale in a voice that belongs not to the present, but to her rebellious, resilient, courageous, ferociously determined younger self."
--Washington Post Book World
"A valuable contribution to contemporary history.... Aman's first-person account underscores the plight of countless other women around the world."