In A Moonless, Starless Sky Alexis Okeowoweaves together four narratives that forma powerful tapestry of modern Africa: ayoung couple, kidnap victims of JosephKony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonelycampaign against modern-day slavery; awomen’s basketball team flourishing amidwar-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takesup arms against the extremist group BokoHaram.

She effortlessly weaves together

stories, detailing atrocious experiences with

frankness, simplicity, and above all humanity.

She showcases the courage and resilience

of everyday people, painting a picture of

countries we usually only hear about through

a very imperialistic lens.


This is the story of two people who were

abducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance

Army as teens. After fifteen-year-old Eunice

was abducted, she was forced to marry

nineteen-year-old Bosco. What happens to

these forced unions if the abductees escape

and why do so many of these couples choose

to stay together? How are the children

of these marriages affected? Okeowo also

explores the difficult relationships between

the former child soldiers and the communities

they may have been forced to harm.


Mauritania became the last country to

abolish slavery in 1981, but the government

did little to actually eradicate the practice.

Okeowo explains how slavery became such

an accepted part of Mauritanian society

and how demographic divisions contributed

to its endurance. This section focuses on

abolitionist Biram Dah Abeid’s fight to end

slavery in Mauritania, a crusade that has

put him and his family in peril. What makes

someone stand up for others, even at great

risk to themselves? In this story we learn

how slaveowners are able to enslave people

without chains and about the obstacles that

arise when adjusting to sudden freedom.


Aisha received her first death threat

from terrorists when she was thirteen.

Her supposed crime? Playing basketball.

Somalia went from having one of the

best women’s basketball teams in the

region to a place where it’s unsafe for

women to play sports at all. This is the

story of young women who continue

to play the game they love despite the


These accounts of ordinary people

trying to live their lives freely are

both distressing and inspiring. Rebellion

doesn’t come without sacrifices and

many of these people endured death

threats, survived harrowing escapes,

and/or remained steadfast against

relentless outside pressure. In the face

of adversity, these people stand firm

in their beliefs and manage to preserve

their autonomy. The individuals may not

make the choices one would expect or

that are easy for outsiders to understand,

but they’re all doing the best they can to

live their lives of their own free will and/

or cultivate a society where everyone

can live freely.