Brave Music from a Distant Drum by Manu Herbstein is a sequel to Ama - a story of the Atlantic Slave Trade. In my review of the first book, I stated that this is a book that needs to be read by all. It is an introduction to an understanding of what really went on during the slave trade. It takes the story away from statistics and figures - this number of people were taken, that number of people died. It shows you the human dimension of that unpardonable activity. It shows you that slaves were not taken out of Africa; rather people were taken out and made slaves. It is a human story with unrestrained treatment. I expect the sequel to follow similar lines. To continue the story and to peel off the wounds. For instance, one would want to know what happened to Ama after the death of Tomba. And will their son be as rebellious as the two of them were? The following are some reviews of the sequel:
[Glenys Bichan, Cambridge High School Library, New Zealand, May 23, 2012] Today Ghana is on my heart, I have been there 4 times now and will go again in October. This book is about a slave called Ama, she is old and dying but with an amazing tale to tell, she is blind and cannot write her story, so she tells it to her son. It is a tale of violence, heartache, a story of hope and courage, determination and ultimately love. It is a story of Ghana, of its wonderful people, stolen and taken to a foreign land. How many of my Ghana friends have family in south USA- I often wonder that. What gifts and talents were stolen from one land in violent selfish greed and transported to another place. I went with some of my Ghana friends to a slave castle on the Cape Coast, with us were young men and woman 15-16 years of age. As I stood with them at the 'door of no return" and in silence we gazed - I felt an overpowering sense of filth, that I was in some way connected to British slave trading and that these wonderful kids were the ones my forebears shunted through that door- it was a sickening feeling. Do you know what they did - hugged me! Ama - scream your story!!!
[Keilin Huang, May 2012] There are some stories that touch you and some that change you. This is what Kwame Zumbi discovers after a visit with his blind mother. Initially turned off by her physical condition and what Kwame sees as a sinful lifestyle (she refuses to call him by his Christian name name and she doesn’t attend a Christian church) he eventually learns of a past that he has long forgotten and indeed that he has chose to forget. Ama has a story to tell, one that “lies within me, kicking like a child in the womb” and she summons her son, Kwame, to write it down as she dictates to him. Kwame is impatient with Ama and finds her “old and blind…unwell and…ugly,” but as her story unfolds, he realizes just how amazing her journey has been. From Ama’s comfortable beginnings in her hometown to her relationship with a Dutch governor that brought her across foreign waters to the hardships she faced while on the English slave ship, The Love of Liberty, Kwame learns not only about his earlier life, but ultimately just how powerful and influential his mother’s story can be.
Brave Music of a Distant Drum is an amazing story that gives a deep, and sometimes difficult, account of the slave trade. It’s not an understatement to say that Herbstein’s tale is a vital part of history and a key to understanding cross-cultural relations today.