Nasrin Siege

Sombo, the girl from the river

Nasrin Siege
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1990
108 S.
ISBN 3-407-80064-9
Paperback Edition: Beltz & Gelberg, 1994

Twelve year old Sombo tells about her everyday life in a traditional village. Sombo's father hunts, her mother farms with corn and vegetables. The girls catch fish in the river and are afraid of crocodiles; they take care of their younger brothers and sisters but they also go to school and are a little in love with their teacher like girls all over the world. But disturbing things also happen. The grandmother of a friend of Sombo's is accused of being a witch and driven from her house. The old woman cannot bear this and commits suicide. Then elephants invade the village. Even though they are chased away with drums and fire, they have already destroyed the crops. The villagers would have died of hunger if they had not killed one of the elephants – secretly, since elephant hunting has been declared illegal and they would be accused of poaching so they have to hide their kill from the gamekeepers. Then her mother has to go to hospital. For many weeks, Sombo cannot go to school because she has to take care of her mother and her younger brothers and sisters. And yet she would like to do well at school to become a teacher or a nurse one day!

One morning, Sombo discovers that she has started menstruating. This changes everything. She has to go to a "Mukanda" camp. For two months she is subjected to rites that she does not understand and that scare her. But in the end when she dances in front of the villagers, she is also proud that she is now considered to be an adult woman. She may no longer live with her parents but the teacher manages to convince them that Sombo should go to secondary school in town.

For children of ten and older.

Nasrin Siege: Sombo, das Mädchen vom Fluss
(Sombo, the girl from the river)

Right from the start, the reader feels the morning cold along with Sombo who does not dare to leave the body of her young brother who had nestled against her during the night.More ...