Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji
Child of Dandelions follows part of the life of Sabine, a fifteen year old Indian girl living in Uganda in 1972. The book begins on the day that President Idi Amin declares that all foreign born Indians have 90 days to leave the country. Sabine is not worried though; while her family is Indian, they were all born in Uganda, making them citizens of the country. However, as racial tensions rise in the country, Sabine’s world slowly begins to unravel.
First, she loses her best friend Zena, an African girl who feels the injustice exerted by the Indians. Zena is a proud supporter of Amin, and this causes a rift between the girls, neither one being able to understand where the other is coming from. The final straw comes when Zena accuses Sabine’s father of being a loan shark, forcing his African workers into allegiance by loaning money that he knows they cannot pay back.
Then Sabine’s family begins to fall apart, some disappearing, while others are forced to hide. Slowly, Sabine gains a better since of awareness about the world around her, realizing that things in Uganda are not the same for everyone. She sees that the prejudices that she had thought only other Indians had also existed within her own life. As Amin’s countdown continues, Sabine realizes that it does not matter that she is Ugandan; all that matters currently is that she is Indian.
The author, Shenaaz Nanji, does an excellent job of exploring the personal side of this event in history. The political events and the resulting effects on the racial climate force Sabine to examine her behaviors and identity as a girl who is both African and Indian. Readers will be able to draw comparisons to Hitler and his persecution of Jews during World War 2 as well as to events currently occurring in Africa.