Yeseni and the Daughter of Peace

By Solange Burrell

Fiction

Fiction | History
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The year is 1748. Elewa lives in a small West African coastal village. Her tribe has been at war for most of her life. She is described by many as ‘The Daughter of Peace’, and the reconciliation of the kingdom rests on her shoulders.

When she finds out that she has Yeseni, a powerful gift that allows her to see events from any point in time, horrific visions of life on barbaric slave ships begin to come to her. Her oracle encourages her to travel through time in order to prevent the transatlantic slave trade from ever taking place, but warns her that if she goes she may never be able to return.

Elewa worries that if she does go she’ll be breaching the peace treaty of her land and compromising the unity of her kingdom. Yet if she doesn’t go, she’ll be dishonouring her gift, the Yeseni, by allowing millions of people to go through a cruel chattel slavery system that will have long-lasting, devastating consequences. It feels like whatever she decides, someone will suffer. Will she choose the past or the present, the greater good of humankind or the peace of her kingdom?

Author Solange Burrell has always been interested in the transatlantic slave trade and its continuing effects on the African diaspora in the UK and around the world. Much of the media coverage around the subjects of slavery and racism is, appropriately, very heavy and consequently disheartening. In this novel, Solange wanted to create a world that was hopeful - to give people who read it the chance to imagine a world in which racism doesn't exist. Pledge now to make this fictional world, at least, a reality.

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*Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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  • Solange Burrell avatar

    Solange Burrell

    Solange Burrell grew up in Bristol and then moved to London to study Journalism at university. She has worked in HR and as a building surveyor.


    She currently lives in Canada with her husband and this is her first novel.

  • Sometimes when I close my eyes I see a beautiful, almost hypnotic, pattern of colour, and if I focus on it for long enough it sends me into a deep, tranquil, sleep. My Yeseni had opened up my world, it made we wonder about things I’d never really thought about before. I’d often contemplate colour, this thing or noun that I thought I knew. Until I travelled to another world only to find the people in that land described, and perhaps even saw colour in a different way to me. I’d often stay up at night wondering if the sky was really Zoozu, if the leaves on the tree were really Borou and if the sun was really Vapa or did we just see them like that because it was convenient for us.

    In this strange land they described the sky as blue, the leaves as green and the sun as yellow. Our word for their ‘blue’, in Olebas meant a group of dark colours, including black, red, green and purple. I soon came to realise that there was nothing literal about colour. Once I started to understand how to access my Yeseni, things as seemingly simple as colour would become blocks in my comprehension. That was until I learnt that colour is simply an illusion that helps us to see the world in a way that is useful for us to see, at any point in time.

    ***

    From a very young age the reasons for war were explained to me in depth, or as much detail as I could comprehend at the time. Papa said that I was implying questions with my tone, as soon as I could make sounds. He said that I’d point at things and raise the inflection in my voice, uttering obscure non-words, then await an explanation from them.

    Papa would often joke with mama that I even wanted to know why the breeze blew through the trees. He would mainly do this when I asked the more difficult questions. The ones that didn’t really have an answer, or at least, not one that could be articulated in a nice, neat, package and finished with a bow.

    I think this is how papa felt when I asked him why we had been at war with the Okena’s for so many years. I remember him smiling and shaking his head at me. I think I was around six or maybe seven years old at the time. After looking at me and shaking his head, he turned around to the faucet and loosened it, to wash the blood off of his hands.

    ‘Pass me the cloth Elewa’, he pointed over to the row of clean cloths that he used as makeshift bandages, they were hanging on the washing line.

    Elewa was the nickname that papa had given me; it meant pretty. Papa always said I had a face that the world should see.

    I jumped up underneath the washing line and grabbed a clean cloth for him.

    ‘Now hold there and don’t let go’ he said, it was the first layer of the bandage to be wrapped around his wounded hand, he needed me to hold it firmly, so that it would stay in

    place. I felt so important and proud that I could assist my papa in this way. The wound was quite deep and just off the centre of his palm. As Papa wrapped the cloth around his hand, my finger that was holding the first layer of cloth, starting to feel trapped.

    ‘So your question was, why do we go to war?’ he asked

    ‘Yes papa’ I said with an uncomfortable look on my face, I wanted to ask him if I could release my finger, I was sure that the other layers were now secure enough to hold the bandage in place.

    ‘Sometimes, Elewa, you think you are helping, by holding something important in place, for someone that you love...’ he looked at my finger, now suffocating underneath the pressure of his fresh bandage, he went on ‘...and so you do as you are told. You hold it in place, until the pressure becomes uncomfortable and instead of simply holding something in place, you are being suffocated.

    ‘You wonder to yourself, perhaps I should have given them the space to help themselves, then perhaps I wouldn’t be so...’ he supported my hand and pulled my finger out. Finally, I thought, he went on ‘...deep inside of this nightmare now’.

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