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With Julius, and his shadowed past, "it was about looking at every tiny act of betrayal.
And that's what grand horrors start with – tiny acts of betrayal".
"It will mean quite a difference to them." But the Rogbonko revival first started with a school. "After the second one, they said that he can't stay.
One of its teachers had a son – a former soldier, like so many kids in a deeply wounded nation who had seen and done too much, too young. "In these tiny communities, it's a tradition of hundreds of years that if, particularly, a young man wishes to come and live in the village, permission has to be sought. The community granted the young veteran leave to remain. In the last analysis, [the teacher] decided that she wanted to stay with her son, and that she would leave the village and leave the job.
For years, the family shuttle between two continents.
There was no police force." The men of the village had managed to tie up the assailant, and left to seek the nearest official forces of law and order – 12 miles away. In the aftermath of the conflict that set the (often under-age) insurgents of the Revolutionary United Front against an ailing state in killing-fields studded with "blood diamonds", Britain – which had helped to end the war with a military mission in 2000 that decisively exceeded its brief – became a prime source of civil as well as military aid.
Later, she returned to observe the counselling offered by psychologists for post-traumatic stress and so absorbed "the whole dynamic of this one place where you could control outcomes, or at least try to, in a country that had fallen into chaos".
Yet Forna is an author of fiction – and a thoroughly accomplished one – not an autobiographer or a documentarist in disguise.
Another trigger for The Memory of Love came not from anywhere in Africa but from the author's talk with an Argentinian friend in the Orangery at Kensington Palace about a professor who had denied his role in that country's "dirty war".
The novelist transforms, not transcribes, the common experience of oppression, resistance – and betrayal.