The Prophet of Zongo Street by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
I will always remember the moment when I first discovered this book. I was at my local library and it was the title that called to me…waving like an old friend. I mention this encounter here. Set in a make-believe community in West Africa, this collection introduces the reader to a cast of unforgettable characters like Mallam Sile in this title story:
Mallam Sile was still engaged in his morning zikhr, or meditation, when Abeeba returned to the shack, and of course had no inkling of what had taken place. An hour later, when they were preparing to open the tea shop for their customers, Abeeba announced to Sile that Samadu had paid the money he owed them. The tea seller, though surprised at what he heard, didn’t see the need to ask how this had come to pass. In his naiveté, he concluded that perhaps Samadu had paid the debt because he had either found himself a vocation or had finally been “entered by the love and fear of God”.