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Mohamed Turay, Novelist/NAR

Mohamed Turay’s novel begins, “It was on a bright morning in the dry season, when children who were playing in an open space saw a figure coming towards them from a far.” But his story began four years ago in his home country of Sierra Leone when, amongst the power outages and conflict, he began to write his forthcoming novel, A Basket Full of Water.

054The action takes place in a traditional African village that has become fragmented by the forces of radical religion, imperialism, and gender politics.

The story begins when British missionaries arrive and attempt to convert the villagers to Christianity; the community’s outcast members are drawn to the shelter, food and Western clothing offered by the British. Many in the community find the British repressive and hold tightly to their traditional ways, encouraging their children to do the same, but many children are intrigued by this new way of life and join with the British. The community is further polarized when the British appoint a woman as the new chief, and a rebellion begins. Read the full summary.

The book’s title is derived from the cascade of coercion and resistance in the community; imagine water being poured into a woven basket; the faster you pour water into a basket, the faster it drains from it.

While Turay has been working on his novel for four years, his time at the Institute was a turning point for him. After enrolling in our Computer class and getting to know the class’s instructor, Dominique Winders, Turay asked Dominique to read his novel. She encouraged him to continue working toward his goal. Shortly after that conversation, he found a publisher. Much of his novel is still handwritten, and he will be coming to the open hours at the Institute’s computer lab to type his manuscript. He hopes to have his manuscript ready for publication in 2-3 months.

When not working on his novel, Turay—who graduated from our Nursing Assistant Training Program in April—works at a Episcopal Church Homes, a local nursing home. While this job enables Turay to send money to his family back home, he does not see caring for elderly members of our community as just a job, but as a humanitarian career. In the future, he hopes to become a doctor.

“America is the land of opportunity,” Turay stated, “when you use your head, you can achieve success.” Those here at the Institute who’ve met Turay have no doubt he will be successful. His maturity and professionalism make him a great employee, and his passion for language—Turay was an English teacher in Sierra Leone—and his sharp mind will make his novel an engaging read.

When asked about the Institute, Turay declared, “This is my place.” We’re honored to have been a small part of Turay achieving his personal dream of publication, and we look forward to helping him achieve his professional dream as well.