ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
It is important to note English is not her native language, so she had the additional
burden of learning to communicate in a new tongue. But of all the challenges
she would face in America, it appears that none would prove to be as difficult as
dealing with the self-hatred and second-class status she found among blacks.
Books by Kola Boof
Nile River Woman (Poems, Feb. 10, 2004) / Long Train to the Redeeming Sin-Stories About African Women (April 6, 2004)
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Diary of a Lost Girl: The Autobiography of Kola Boof By Kola Boof (aka Naima Bint Harith) Doors of Kush /Hardcover, $25.00 / 441 pages, illustrated ISBN: 0-9712019-8-6 Book Review by Kam Williams
The Hip Hop Holocaust would signal the birth of a new ideology amongst American blacks, a new cultural ethic that would eventually migrate to blacks all over the worlda cultural ethic that now openly embraced and promoted materialism, misogyny, disloyalty and anarchy. Whereas the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements had unified black people worldwide and brought about independence and nation-building in Africa, and a huge renaissance in self-love, unity and empowerment the Hip Hop Holocaust destroyed all that.
“This was the music that eventually renamed the mothers of the men who performed itbitches and hosand made it fashionable to be colorist (against black women) and self-centered (bling-bling). I call it a holocaust because it effectively killed the core community in Black America and completely bamboozled the black youth and separated them from their true worth no one was willing to stand up to the Hip Hop anarchists.
I was there, a new American and a black child in 1980 What others praise as a revolutionary new expression of the black mans experience in America I regard, in retrospect, as a poison against the people. Excerpted from Chapter Six, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made of
For some reason, it often takes an expatriate to make a seminal contribution to a culture. Such is the case with Kola Boof, whose heartbreaking and brutally-honest autobiography, Diary of a Lost Girl, might be the most brilliant deconstruction of the plight of present-day African-Americans yet written.
The title of this alternately thought-provoking and moving memoir was ostensibly inspired by Anne Franks Diary of a Young Girl, the literary classic which chronicled the last days of a Dutch teenager trying to maintain her sanity, humanity, and a sense of optimism while making sense of the Holocaust as Nazism enveloped Europe.
Well, Ms. Boof, whose real name is Naima Bint Harith, has written an equally-evocative account of her own harrowing tale of survival. Born in The Sudan in March of 1972, she was orphaned at the age of seven after her parents were murdered for speaking out against the governments involvement in the revival of the slave trade. After being abandoned by her grandmother for being too dark before finding temporary political asylum in Great Britain, she arrived in the United States a year later a trembling, frightened wreck. She was adopted by a kindly African-American couple with a big family which lived in a nice house in a residential section of Washington, DC.
Sadly, the host of woes of Biblical proportions being visited upon the unfortunate little immigrant just continued. Tested more than Job, besides hearing her mother and father die, Kola suffered circumcision, a heart attack, betrayal by a bisexual boyfriend, molestation, statutory rape, discrimination, ostracism, and accusations of being a witchall before getting out of her teens.
It is important to note English is not her native language, so she had the additional burden of learning to communicate in a new tongue. But of all the challenges she would face in America, it appears that none would prove to be as difficult as dealing with the self-hatred and second-class status she found among blacks.
Speaking frankly about such taboo subjects as the color-coded caste system among African-Americans, she bemoans how brothers judge the worth of black women by (a) how light-skinned they are, (b) how Euro-slender they are, and (c) the texture of their hair. But she doesnt let sisters off easy either, indicting them for trying to adapt to a European standard of beauty and thereby becoming walking billboards for the general societys message that whiteness is superior.
Kola Boof is never one to mince words; thus, her iconoclastic ideas arent for everyone. You should not come into this book expecting to like Kola Boof, she warns. My purpose as a literary artist is not to be liked, but to be understoodregardless of whether Im right or wrong I spent my whole life being dictated to by American media and nigger media about what to believe and thinkand so now its my turn, as an African woman and womb-bearer, to do the dictating. If you dont appreciate my candorthen write your own goddamned book; this one is mines.
Reserving perhaps her harshest words for Islam, which she repeatedly criticizes as anti-female. Kola claims to be in hiding due to death threats. If true, this development is no surprise, given the serious accusations leveled on these pages, and the fatwas issued by Muslim fundamentalists in reaction to such relatively-mild detractors as Salman Rushdie.
When not excoriating Islam, with a refreshingly unguarded honesty Boof recalls her assorted sexual and romantic liaisons ranging from Osama bin Laden, at one extreme, to a married Jewish businessman, at the other, with a rainbow coalition of lovers betwixt and between, with a stated preference for black men. In sum, Diary of a Lost Girl is an admirable addition to the genre of African-American autobiography. For warts and all, it represents the unalloyed emotions of an intelligent, defiant, controversial, frequently profane and proud black woman, a survivor who somehow overcame one of the worst childhoods imaginable to share an abundance of intriguing, if debatable insights about her adopted homeland. Postscript: While the Internet is abuzz with rumors and speculation surrounding Kola Boof, for purposes of this review this critic simply assessed Diary of a Lost Girl on its own merits, without entertaining extraneous issues raised elsewhere.
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Lloyd Kam Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.
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The daughter of Arab Egyptian archeologist Harith Bin Farouk and his only wife “Jiddi” is orphaned in Sudan and eventually adopted by Black Americans–Marvin and Claudine Prell Johnson of Washington, D.C.
She grows up to become not only North Africas most controversial and despised woman writer, but also the mistress to both Osama Bin Linden and his mentor, Hasan al Turabi…the two most powerful terrorists on earth.
Writing her life story with the same blunt sentences that have enriched her classic poems and novels…KOLA BOOF talks openly about the hardships of having a “circumcised” vagina, about being put up for adoption by her color struck Egyptian grandmother, about the 2003 firebombing of her Ethiopian publisher, about Arab Islamic death threats issued against her life because of the “Soulful” novels she writes…and about her efforts fighting against slavery and genocide in the Sudan.
A remarkable memoir…by Sudans most hated daughter.
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The Diary of Kola Boof: Naima.
Bint il Nil
Night of the Living Dead
My New Family: The Black Americans
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Goddess of Trees
An Evening with Osama Bin Laden
The Devils Pass Key
I Know the Rooms In Hell By Heart
Osamas Lake of Fire
Be and Be Not Afraid
Make Way…for Kola Boof!
I Never Married My Husband
So Much Things to Say
Inheritance (womanist prose) Being and Becoming the Red Dragon
See What the Boys In the Back Roomll Have
The Authentic Black Man (A Letter)
God Is a Black Man
I Put a Spell On You
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Kola Boof Breaks Her Silence in New Book
Bruce Dunne of The Post Journal interviews Kola Boof about her just released autobiography.
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) – The author of six books published in eight countries, Kola Boof is not only Sudan’s top selling novelist, but in 1996, was the mistress of Osama Bin Laden…..a fact that jeopardized her American citizenship four years ago, until Morocco’s Prince Fabrizzio Ruspolli confirmed Boof’s claim that she had been held against her will by Bin Laden at Ruspoli’s estate for sexual purposes.
In her memoir, Diary of a Lost Girl, coming Feb. 1st in hardcover (0-9712019-8-6), Boof reveals a side of the terror chief that’s never been explored before. In a telephone interview, I learned a few things that I never expected to find out…such as where he’s been hiding.
BRUCE DUNNE: Where is Bin Laden?
KOLA BOOF: Well, about eighteen months ago he was in South Waziristan, the Toba Kakar Mountains in Pakistan. It’s the state of Baluchistan. I mean, that’s going by the authorities. I personally haven’t spoken to him since 1998.
BRUCE DUNNE:What do you think of the recent rumors that Bin Laden is dead?
KOLA BOOF:Well, they’re just that–rumors.
BRUCE DUNNE: You say you lived with Bin Laden for six months in 1996, and I’ll be asking you some very tough questions about that in a moment, but what was he like back then?
KOLA BOOF: Well, he’s extremely complex. I thought of him as a very rich gangbanger–he wasn’t hiding in caves, although I don’t know what he did when he wasn’t in Morocco.
Of course, he’s evil, and that’s what people want to hear….but he also believes that he’s saving the world by forcing everyone to submit to Islam and to Arabism. Osama is a gifted poet, he was very softspoken and sensitivebut also violent….he beat me, and he was tyrannical towards his men and embarrassed about sex……but addicted to it. Because I’m black and wasn’t Muslim at that time, he considered me a “non-woman”. A piece of meat for men to wipe their sins off on.
BRUCE DUNNE: Peter Bergen, a biographer of Bin Laden, has called you delusional. He says that Osama Bin Laden was never in Morocco in 1996in fact, I believe he claims that Bin Laden has never been to Morocco period.
KOLA BOOF: Peter Bergen doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, but I’m sure that the media would take the word of a white man who’s never met Osama against the word of a Black woman who used to share his bed.
The fact is…Osama Bin Laden was in Morocco in 1996, he was in Afghanistan, he lived in Sudan, he went to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt that year. He went to Iran for a wedding. Peter Bergen and none of these know-it-all white men know a damned thing about where Osama was…if they did…the U.S. government would have been able to find Osama back in 1996. So don’t listen to the Arabs and the White men.
BRUCE DUNNE: Peter Bergen says that Bin Laden is a chronic prayer…praying ten or twelve times a day.
KOLA BOOF:That wasn’t true in 1996. Osama prayed on Tuesdays and Thursdays like that…all day Tuesday and Thursday, but not everyday. Bergen never lived with Osama. He’s going by heresay.
BRUCE DUNNE: He raped you the first night you met. How did you meet and how did you become his captive?
KOLA BOOF: We met in a restaurant in Marrakech. I was there with my date and Osama came in with his men and ordered me over to his table. They escorted my date out of the restaurant and I never saw him again. Osama chatted with me for a few minutes, and then later that night, he came to my hotel room with his men and he raped me very violently. And then a few days after that, his men arrived again at my hotel…only this time to fetch me and my belongings.
They took me to the Medina, La Maison Arabe, and I was kept there in the Winston Churchill room for six months. Osama came to the estate off and on, about four out of those six months total. He had sex with me and I accompanied him and his men on hunting expeditions and fishing trips. I got to know a lot of his friends, such as his doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri.
BRUCE DUNNE: You say that you’re annoyed by American women who complain that you don’t act like a rape victim.
KOLA BOOF:It was ten years ago that Bin Laden raped me. I can’t imagine why I should be crying and acting emotional. Of course it was terrible being raped…but I had to survive and that meant I had to pretend to like the man. There was no time for whining . . . and in writing the book, there’s no time for feminist theatrics. He raped me the first night and we became lovers, because I had to survive.
BRUCE DUNNE: Most people definitely haven’t read your novels and poems–they don’t know that you’re Sudan’s most published literary writer–you say that it’s because you’re so intelligent that Bin Laden was attracted to you.
KOLA BOOF: Osama’s mother was like a feminist, she refused to wear a burka, two or three of Bin Laden’s wives are University Professors. I don’t see why that’s so hard for Americans to believe. They think because they’ve never heard of me or because my name sounds comical to them that I’m just a bimbo. And stupid. When they see that I’m black, they tack on “liar”.
BRUCE DUNNE: I have to admit I loved your autobiography, but do you really believe that you know more about Bin Laden than his wives?
KOLA BOOF: Well in any mansion…it’s the MAIDS and the “Whores” who know the most. Trust me.
BRUCE DUNNE: Bin Laden’s been rumored to have suffered from kidney problems. Can you tell us anything about that?
KOLA BOOF: I’d rather people buy the book, so they can read about his health difficulties in detail. An interview isn’t the proper…
BRUCE DUNNE: You say that you’re a liberal Democrat, but you’re very supportive of President Bush’s war on terrorism. Is that correct?
KOLA BOOF: I’m not interested in President Bush in the least, and yes, I’m a liberal Democrat . . . but I’m also a person who comes from the Arab world and I can tell you that I was raised in Sudanese elementary school to believe that America is Satan’s country, that White men are “the devil” and to strap a bomb on my back and blow up innocent people at the post office in the name of Allah….and look at this idiot president in Iran. I want blacks in America to understand that the “Arab” is just as much of a Satan as the White man. To me, the Arab man is more Satanic than the White man.
No race likes black people–not Arabs, Caucasians, Asians, Latinos, Mulattoesnobody likes blacks. Black Americans need to look at the recent massacre of Black Sudanese in a public park in Egypt and get a clue. You have to be sensible about terrorism, and I think that Americans are way too spoiled, too rich and comfortable. They like to fancy themselves as fair people….but it’s the relaxed, fair ones that die of poisoned drinking water while listening to their Barbara Streisand records, although I’m a huge Streisand fan myself.
I advise Americans to question their government’s tactics, surely, but when it comes to Arab Muslim Imperialism and terrorism, support your government. There is corruption in every world government. . . .but none are more corrupt than the governments of the Arab world, and that is Kola Boof’s experience as a half-Arab, Black African woman, and my opinion is just as important any other American’s.
BRUCE DUNNE: Who despises you the most? Arab Muslim leaders, the Nation of Islam, American media, Black American men or Bin Laden experts?
KOLA BOOF:I don’t know.
BRUCE DUNNE: In 2004, you were able to secure about six hundred million dollars worth of guns and ammunition for Sudan’s south rebel army by giving a rather powerful speech in Israel. You were also featured on Benjamin Netanyahu’s web site. What exactly are your connections to Israel or the SPLA’s for that matter?
KOLA BOOF:Israelis and the South Sudanese are nothing alike, but we share a common enemy, a very common struggle. If it weren’t for Israel we wouldn’t have had food or medicine or weapons to defend our children in the South Sudan. We had no other offering of help. And, of course, as a member of the SPLA, I had to work very closely with the Israelis on behalf of my people. I would do anything for Africa.
BRUCE DUNNE: Very recently, with the James Frey scandal and the debates about the integrity of memoir nowadays, how do we know that your book isn’t a pack of lies, just another fabulous scheme to further your own writing career by getting rich off Bin Laden’s name?
KOLA BOOF:You don’t know. But the fact is…..my book is true and none of it is fabricated, and for those who think otherwise, I really don’t give a damn. This is my life story, my soul book. As Mary J. Blige sings….’you can hate it or love it”.
(*To reprint this article, contact Bruce Dunne: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Excerpts from Diary of a Lost Girl
The Nile…is a river in Sudan.
That is where this writer was born, in the hot metropolis of a city called Omdurman (which along with Khartoum and North Khartoum, in size and density, could be considered the New York City of North Africa). Unfortunately, my novels and poems have always pissed people off and made them contentious towards me–so as I begin now to sketch a portrait of myself and my life, as truly no one else could, I do so with the knowledge that the contents of this book could get me killed, and I ask that you, the reader, not come into this book expecting to “like me”–Im not that kind of artist–Im a very damaged and altogether unusual woman from a very different culture than yours, so its important that you be prepared to expect the unexpected.
My ex-lover, Osama Bin Laden, once threatened my life because of a poetry collection I wrote; he felt I was prostituting myself for America (instead of for him)–my Ethiopian publisher was firebombed in 2002 for printing a collection of short stories I wrote, and on April 9th, 2003, an investigative Human Rights report presented on the floor of the UNITED NATIONS confirmed the “fatwa” and death threats that I had received from Sudan due to the books I write. (p. 15)
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My real name is Naima Bint Harithbut I call myself Kola Boof. Ive learned that many Americans (especially whites and media types), think thats a comical name–but its very special to me, because its actually the greatest poem that I ever wrote. The name (as a poem) signifies four things–(1) the Kola nut, which is the favorite snack of African children as well as the symbol of prosperity, moral goodness and well being to Africans as a people. (2) The sound of the African drum (“boof!” comes the drums). And then finally, because as a teenager, I so loved silent screen star Clara Bow and cartoon sex kitten Betty Boop, and was (and am) a silent movie buff to the point that I wanted to create a sexy movie star type name that would still encompass everything that I cherish and sought to represent as an artist from Africa–aaand–as a womanist and a wombbearer. So in the poem “Kola Boof”, I achieved all of that with two words and made it my name, and in fact, took it further by naming several of my books after the silent films that I loved so much as a teen (“Flesh and the Devil”…”Long Train to the Redeeming Sin”…”Diary of a Lost Girl”).
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Its true enough that Ive had unbelievable tragedy in my life, but even more so–God has been there for me in very big ways. I was adopted by Black Americans at the age of eight (I returned to North Africa via Israel in 1994 as a young adult). I dont know when I was actually bornmy Auntie Ramah says March 3rd, 1969, the government of Sudan says March 3rd, 1972, and one of my Egyptian uncles says that I was born in 1970 or 1971and it is not uncommon for displaced Sudanese people to not know their age–so for the duration of this book, I am just going to pick “7” as the age I was when my birth parents (Arab Egyptian archeologist Harith Bin Farouk and his only wife…MommySweet Jiddi…a “blue black” Gisi-Waaq Oromo) were murdered for speaking out against slavery in our country–and age “8” as when I was let for adoption by Black Americans.
My parents, Marvin and Claudine Prell Johnson, were a generous and loving couple in South East Washington, D.C., raising seven other children when they took me in. I couldnt speak a word of English and they couldnt speak Arabic, but they wanted me–so it didnt matter, you see. And although they fully support me in my career (and as Ive said, there are radio interviews with my parents online), they have paid dearly for having Kola Boof as a daughter. In 2002, when death threats were being made against me from Arab Muslim extremists–I could not be found–so it was my Black American parents and my seven siblings who were terrorized and forced to move from their homes, and back in Egypt and Sudan, several of my Arab Muslim uncles were arrested, jailed and beaten just for being related to Kola Boof. This book, of course, is going to go into much greater detail about my origins and my families–everything is in this book–but the point Im making is that through all the horrendous events youll soon be reading about–I never was and am not now a “victim”.
As a very young child, I had to witness my birth parents being murdered in front of me. The murhaleen (part of Sudans gestapo)
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As a teenager, my American parents sent me to psychiatrists. They wondered why it was that I could remember so much of my life in Sudan, but could not remember the tools necessary to command the English language? As I told you earlier, I didnt really master English until I was about fourteen. And the psychiatrist explained to mother and father that because I had witnessed the murder of my birth parents and become “possessed” by itI was holding on to every single moment that I had ever shared with them; every single memory. And that is true. I have never forgotten what it was that created me. That infused me with a ballad-like fearlessness. I call it . . . blue sky.
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My creation began as the result of an arranged “blue sky love” between two extraordinary people, neither of whom were from Sudan, but both of whom found themselves settled there, circa 1961, in a love nest right on the banks of Omdurmans Nile River.
Mahdi Pappuh (my father, my God), Harith Bin Farouk was an extremely tall, butterscotch-colored White Arab Egyptian with coily “mixed” hairmore nappy like Hebrew hair than slick like an Arabs hair. He was an archeologist and was studying religious coffees in Somalia when he first laid eyes on my mother (Mommysweet), whom he told me he fell in love with the very tender moment he saw her. She was a fourteen year old charcoal-colored Gisi-Waaq Oromo girl–Gisi (her family name), Waaq (her lineage, The Crow), Oromo (her tribe, Nomadic coffee worshippers). Her name was Jiddi and her father was her tribes Chief, which is why she was called Princess Jiddi.
In our world, men pay a dowry to the girls father for marriage rights, and in Sudan (where Pappuh owned a large house), the Northern men generally have only one wife.
Pappuh Mahdi immediately attempted to purchase Mommysweet for marriage, but because her father was the Chief and because they considered Pappuh a “white man” (as non-black Arabs are categorized
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Unfortunately, Mommysweet gave birth to six boys in a rowall born dead with their umbilical cords wrapped around their necks. I was her seventh pregnancy (and its my understanding that Im not the only seventh born-first girl after six stillborn sons in the literary world–the American author Gayl Jones, Ive been told, is also the seventh born first girl in her family–so yes, it obviously does happen, and I refuse to believe that its witchcraft). My Auntie Ramah (Mommysweets best friend and dressmaker) told me that when I was born (which took place around noontime right on the banks of the Nile as Mommysweet was washing clothes) and they washed off and presented me to Pappuh, announcing that I was a healthy baby girl, he took one look at me and cried out, indignantly, “Bitch!”
Auntie Ramah and I would get such a bellylaugh whenever she told me this story, because it was the way that Auntie Ramah could tell a thing. She was one of those plump, down-by-the-riverside African women who can take anything hurting inside a person and transform it into ferris wheels of laughter. Metaphor was her gift.
Anyway, after I was born, Mommysweet never became pregnant again. It was amazing. People all over Omdurman declared her to be a jinn (a powerfully evil spirit) and avoided her whenever possible. They declared Pappuh a wimp for not killing her (as some Muslim men are known to do in our world if a wife bore no sons), and they truly believed–with good reason–that Mommysweet was a mute. In fact, Mommysweet made sure that people thought she was a mute. I can honestly say that in my entire seven years as her daughter, I think she only spoke (using her mouth) maybe eight or nine times tops. This is not an exaggeration. Only Auntie Ramah could speak
Mommysweets Oromo language (Ramah being a red skinned Oromo from a clan in Tanzania that had bright orange-brown complexions), and although Pappuh had taught Mommysweet how to speak flawless Arabic, her religion of silence hurt me very deeply growing up. I was, after all, the only child in Omdurman whose mother never spoke to her.
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By Alek Wek
“When I cleaned toilets, I only saw it as work to give me the means to achieve my goals. Of course I hated it,” the Sudanese supermodel exclaimed. “Waking up at 4 a.m. when it’s freezing cold is not easy, followed by Uni, coursework and my evening baby-sitting job, but it made me disciplined and gave me a huge sense of self-appreciation.”
Born the seventh of nine children Alek, meaning ‘black-spotted cow’ (one of Sudan’s most treasured cows, which represents good luck), never dreamt of becoming a model. Both in her motherland, where she was considered to be inferior due to her Dinka tribe (dubbed as ‘zurqa’, meaning dirty black) and again in Britain when she arrived in 1991, she faced hostility.Jamaica-Gleaner
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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02_My_Story,_My_Song.mp3 (24503 KB)
(Kalamu reading “My Story, My Song”
Parable of the Cellphone (Marvin X)
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 1 March 2006/kw review posted 21 September 2006