Strange Horizons, December 14, 2020

Strange Horizons, December 14, 2020

“Alhaji Jerry” by ML Kejera

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

“Alhaji Jerry” by ML Kejera takes place among refugees fleeing a dictatorship in the tiny African nation of The Gambia. Each member of the family encounters a mouse, in different guises. The youngest child sees it as a figure from an animated cartoon, an older one perceives it dressed in a business suit, an adult son hears it perform a rap song, and so on.

The story is narrated by vague, nebulous beings who live in mouse holes. Their exact nature is never explained, but it is implied that they are supernatural beings from Gambian folklore whose function is to teach moral lessons.

Despite the seemingly whimsical premise, this is a serious story about the way in which refugees may be forced to adapt the ways of a foreign land. The use of the unnamed narrators does not add much to an otherwise interesting look at culture shock.

Victoria Silverwolf had to do some research to find out that both words in the name of The Gambia should be capitalized.