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Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey Of A Desert Nomad

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It shows the journey of a feisty African girl turned woman both within her traditional community and within the traditional community of the West.

Penniless and speaking little English, she became a janitor in Mc Donalds where she was famously discovered by a fashion photographer. She runs away to Mogadishu and eventually gets a job as a maid for an uncle who is the Somalian ambassador to England. A book not only to touch the heart, but one that should make us all want to take a stand to stop this cruel practise. Waris Dirie (the name means desert flower) lives a double life - by day she is a famous model and UN spokeswoman on women's rights in Africa, at night she dreams of her native Somalia. I was under the impression that this memoir strongly focused on the author's experiences with FGM and her work with the Desert Flower Foundation to advocate for women's rights in Africa.Currently, the organization has international headquarters in Vienna, Austria and has regional offices in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Monaco, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Djibouti , Sierra Leone and Poland. Waris was also interviewed by Laura Ziv for the magazine Marie Claire, in which she decided to tell about the cruel ritual of female genital mutilation and also her own destiny resulting in a wave of sympathy and protest worldwide against FGM. I found this book in “full flight”; the author is on the move constantly, making the book suffer from a lack of contemplation. She remembers her early childhood as carefree- racing camels and moving on with her family to the next grazing spot - until it came her turn to meet the old woman who administered the ancient custom imposed on most Somalian girls: circumcision.

Grown up in a slum, she was chosen for the role of Waris as a child in the screening of the international bestseller “Desert Flower”.

Waris is a survivor and I admire her greatly for having the courage to talk about all the things that she so openly talks about in this book, from the FGM to fashion industry. Waris Dirie ran away from her oppressive life in the African desert when she was barely in her teens, illiterate and impoverished, with nothing to her name but a tattered shawl. for the most part, I found her reminisces about her childhood living with a nomadic family in the Somalian desert mildly entertaining. That same year, she was appointed UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM).

Some goodreaders perceived her as disingenuous, which is something that occurred to me as well although that may just be general memoir skepticism (thank you James Frey for stealing my innocence). Well, it's not the goal of religion- from what I see the purpose of religion is to organize people who believe in the same things so they could feel cozy and secure surrounded by people who are just afraid to question things as they are. Waris describes at one point how she felt frustrated because she felt that they were trying to turn her into a twisted black version of Cindy Crawford. Maybe it's cultural, or part of growing up in a tough world and having tough experiences, but Dirie seemed superficial, self-involved, and Machiavellian to me, using people when it suited her and discarding them when it didn't, falling out with family members without taking much responsibility for her own behavior, failing to respect people's wishes at times, etc.

In 1997 Harper Collins in New York published Waris Dirie’s biography “Desert Flower” and the book quickly became an international bestseller. Without going into too much detail, she managed to convey the horror and trauma of being subjected to female genital circumcision, a practise that causes more problems, than it prevents, and convinces you, that as a woman, we have a duty, irregardless of where we come from in the world, we should all raise our voices and try have this horrific practise stopped, before more young girls are subjected to it, and potentially die. From the deserts of Somalia to the world of high fashion, she battles against oppression and emerges a real champion.

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