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Northern Nigeria, just before the turn of the century: a time of unrest and civil war, when the trans-Saharan slave trade still flourished. Against this turbulent backdrop is set the story of the Hausa, a black African people who practice the Islamic religion. This great African family saga, written by the first Federal Prime Minister of Nigeria, focuses on the struggles of young Umar and his mother and describes Umar's dramatic journey across the desert with a slave caravan. Rich in adventure, it also provides a rare and vivid glimpse into the lives of women and children in a black Islamic society and their survival in a troubled age.