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Can a countryman make it in Liberia? This is the question Sumowor Gbamokorli wrestles with during his long, eventful journey from village life to the capital city, where kwii men seem to have all the power. Will Korli, as he is known, be able to escape the webs of tribal and “civilized” societies that both deny him the freedom to live up to his ambitions?
Set in the mid-1960s, Birds Are Singing gives us a glimpse into rituals of secret societies and traditions from rural Liberia, and into the nature of unscrupulous folk that rule in the city. Korli’s (mis)adventures in both arenas reveal the social, cultural, and political factors that have long inhibited development and unity. Through all the temptations, will he stay true to himself and to his wife, Leanya? Will he ever be accepted for his talents and respected for his vision?
“Sankawulo's last song is his richest, deepest, most fearless plumbing of the insistent themes he explored throughout his writing life. Cinematic in imagery and scene, sage didacticism is balanced with exquisite descriptions of Hindi's elemental beauty (fast disappearing), stunning Poro revelations, and characters ranging from the scheming, manipulative, cruel, violent, murderous, rapacious, to the generous, kindhearted, wise. No one—whether rural or urban—is spared Sankawulo's hawk-eyed gaze.
Monrovia of the Tubman years teems with cutthroats, backstabbers, con artists, swindlers, and ruthless social climbers. Traditional moorings are threatened by urban anonymity. The natural beauty of Haindi and its environs is set against the stronghold of both empowering and corrosive traditions. This book is Sankawulo's magnum opus, his final compulsive effort to be heard and understood, his vision of a just, egalitarian, productive Liberian society, his thorough understanding of both our better natures and our very ugly, wicked ways, and his prayer for our redemption.
It is simultaneously a cautionary tale, a chronicle of pre-coup memory, a last gasp of hope, and a fatalistic dirge.” — Stephanie Horton, Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings