By Imaan Jemimah
Published July 28, 2016
Reading From Terror to Hope reminds me of the experience I had watching the science fiction apocalyptic action horror film, WORLD WAR Z.
I am on the edge of my seat as soon as I start reading the second paragraph of the first chapter of this ‘little big’ book whose title may be taken literally; there is life after tragedy.
As I keep on opening pages, the tension slowly dissolves, leaving me hopeful as I read the last sentence of the ninth and last chapter of this Ogova Ondego-written nonfiction whose publisher, ComMattersKenya, insists is a fictional account and that “names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”
Published in 2009 immediately after the post-2007 general elections violence that rocked Kenya between December 2007 and March 2008, From Terror to Hope is a book that brings awareness to the plight of internally-displaced persons. The story brings the national concern down to a micro level by giving it a face, a name, a family lost, a life devastated and a compelling story.
The story is about a 12-year-old boy who witnesses the demise of his entire family. The boy’s family members are murdered in a politically-instigated strife that brings out the theme of ethnic-based political conflict and its effect on the innocent.
Most importantly, the themes of hope, internal growth and determination stand out. After a devastating experience, the boy loses faith in God and the will to live. But, unexpectedly, he not only finds good in a cold, dark and cruel world, but also hangs onto it and eventually finds faith again. It is this faith that leads him to great levels of achievements that may have never occurred had the tragic events in his early life never happened.
This book is about finding hope and the will to live after enduring tragedy. It is also about the need for finding methods of peaceful conflict resolution as a country because violence should never be inflicted on the innocent to resolve conflicts they have no hand in.
In her foreword, G Wamaitha Kinyanjui, a lawyer who specializes in children’s rights, refers to From Terror to Hope as “a beacon of hope in the midst of turmoil and despair” that offers discipline, hard work and the fear of God as the only prescription for life.
But it would be naive to conclude that From Terror to Hope only tackles problems related to tribal politics in Africa. Xenophobia racism, class-ism and global politics are also highlighted.
The author dedicates From Terror to Hope to his mother “who introduced me to the joy of storytelling” and to “all journalists; those selfless men and women who risk their lives prying, probing and prodding for information aimed at making the world a better place.”
From Terror to Hope is a wonderfully haunting story that, undoubtedly, leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Get your own copy of From Terror to Hope and read it to see whether what I have said in this brief review is true.