Belonging in Africa

Belonging in Africa

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When Sara and Sam fall in love, they presume Sara’s white European skin and Sam’s black African skin will not be of interest in 1978 Nairobi, the cosmopolitan and free-thinking capital of Kenya where they both live. They are wrong. Soon they must face painful prejudices from the outside world, as well as their own families. They also slowly realize that unexpected deep-rooted differences exist between them.

Sara and her Dutch expat parents have happily settled in Kenya for a few years, but this is only the latest in a long list of countries they called home. Soon Sara’s father will be transferred to a new position, and the family must move to a new country again.

But things are different for Sara this time. She is 18 years old, and absolutely certain she belongs in Kenya. She plans to stay forever––especially after she falls passionately in love with Sam.

After all, on the surface of it, Sara and Sam have a great deal in common. They both come from comfortable middle-class families. They attend excellent schools as academic high achievers. They balance on the cusp of adulthood, and have every reason to think their futures will be bright. But soon enough, the differences between them are too apparent to be ignored, even by them. And this is only the start of the ordeals Sam and Sara must overcome.

Sara is a pampered only child. Sam is the eldest son of the first wife of a polygamous Ugandan family. Sara does not at first understand the significance of his position. It takes time for her to see how deeply his young life is influenced by the many responsibilities that rest on his shoulders.

The lovers suffer from prejudices from people close to them, as well as from strangers. They are startled to discover that both sets of parents oppose their union, and believe their child should find a better partner within their own cultures.

Perhaps most complicated of all is the slow realization that Sara and Sam have very different expectations of each other. Sam presumes he has certain rights as the man in the relationship. Sara does not automatically subscribe to his position of leader, or consider it her duty to follow.

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