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Long Walk Up
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LONG WALK UP (ISBN: 0-9663539-3-5)
You are not alone. Yes. There are times when we may feel that the struggles or the changes and transitions that we experience are unlike what anyone else has known. During the busyness of one hectic day after another, sometimes it's easy to feel imbalanced, harried and out of sorts. Yet our lives do merge. Our experiences are shared events which is the reason that communication is unexplainably rewarding. Often just having someone to talk with, someone to listen to us makes the difference. Long Walk Up is a book that allows the story of one young girl to resonate and connect with you until you remember thatYou are not alone. Countless others who are on their life journey and who too are walking up accompany you. Keep walking!
Long Walk Up is a significant and deeply engaging story about prevalent human conditions. This poignant story examines the life of a young orphan, a child pushed into the street alone when her mother dies from malaria. The child, a little girl from East Africa named Mulukan, goes on to become Africa's first female president. Her intense story takes an honest look at tragedy and unforeseen events, heart tugging coincidences that become the threads in the fabric of our lives. Mulukan's personal story strikes a perfect balance between resistance and triumph. This child's remarkable story searches its readers' hearts and calls them to ascension.
THE BOOK'S MAIN CHARACTERS
(Nile River - the longest river in the world)
Mulukan's mother remains nameless throughout the book. It is this elder's spirit-work in her daughter's life that gives her life meaning, that makes her name universal as it buries itself, like a diamond hidden in rock, in the upcoming days of her young daughter's stunning life.
Kokumuo Kenyatta is the first person Mulukan meets after she ventures into the world of government. She thinks she is pursuing employment with the Office of Government in Mariami, a nation in East Africa, in order to meet her living expenses. But that quickly changes after the president for whom she has busied herself writing speeches, press releases and compiling statistical data for takes ill. It is Kokumuo who helps Mulukan navigate the sticky terrain of government, politics and leadership. He becomes like a sturdy piece of wood in Mulukan's life; she needs him.
Mulukan is a little girl orphaned from her parents and four siblings when she is only six years old. Like many children in Africa today, Mulukan is pushed into the streets absent family after her mother, her last surviving relative, returns to the earth beneath the crushing blow of malaria. Yet, Mulukan is not alone. Her mother's love drapes her like a shawl that refuses to come off, that will always keep Mulukan warm. And it is this mother's love that assures Mulukan that hers is a triumphant and remarkable destiny. Mulukan believes her mother and the prophecy finds Mulukan earning her way into international history books.
REVIEWERS ON LONG WALK UP
"Mulakan, child of Africa, orphaned without mother, father, and left without siblings, triumphs over the rocky terrain of her solo journey. Long Walk Up is a poignant story of survival."
Dr. Maxine Thompson, Butterfly Press
"Starting with her first book, Portia, and continuing with her latest effort, Long Walk Up, Denise Turney's literary expressiveness and dedication to the written word is evident. Long Walk Up is sure to be a bestseller."
Ron Kavanaugh, Mosaicbooks.com
Key Points About Long Walk Up
*Long Walk Up - events effect millions of people a year
*Long Walk Up - celebrates Africa's first national president
*Long Walk Up - is a nationally recognized novel
WHAT READERS SAY ABOUT LONG WALK UP
"I read your book on a train ride into New York last weekend. I felt as if I was in Africa with your characters. You are such a descriptive writer. All of my five senses and several emotions were engaged. I could smell, taste, hear, touch and see the beauty and desperation of Africa. I empathized and rooted for Mulukan's plight and that of her people; and, was so happy for her political and personal achievements. Hooray for Long Walk Up!" -- Tika, author of Baby Love
"I just finished reading Long Walk Up. I thoroughly enjoyed it! You have a great sense of place. I must belive that you've either have been to Ethiopia, or you did a lot of research, because I felt as though I were there. The customs, the phrases, all of them made the story very believable. I also liked your metaphors and similes. They gave a certain depth and embellishment to the narrative. Mulukan's speeches were very inspirational. You yourself must have the spirit of a leader. Keep up the good work. I will be sure to mention the book to my friends. Keep on writing, and keep up the good work!" -- Nicole Titus, author of Akin To No One
READER EXCERPTS FROM LONG WALK UP DIRECTLY BELOW:
"No one took her in as their own. She simply mixed in with the other children."
When Mulukan's people arrived at the plain in Geladi, Ethiopia, Africa's oldest independent country, all of the adults bore a deep tribal marking at the center of their forehead, a marking made with the searing edge of a sharp knife. When they first arrived at the plain, the grass was green and leaves on the trees were full. The land, though flat for miles except for one steep, lone hill, danced with Achaia trees, yellow daisies, purple dolichos, and pink orchards. Since the men were herdsmen, cattle, camel and sheep huddled at the edges of the plain. Occasionally a few chickens clucked their way into the area.
Within hours of arriving to the plain the men erected the grass, stick and mud huts which the women filled with cooking utensils and floor mats for sleeping. The river was clean. It gurgled while it moved over the rocks decorating its bed. Wattled Ibis, Abyssinian long-claw, and yellow throated seed-eaters flew across the sky, the sound of their loud, beckoning calls echoing throughout the area. At that time, in the plain, a thing called malaria, a disease that, globally, claims one child every thirty seconds, did not exist. Babies laughed and cooed. Men came over the hill, deer, hen and a rare buffalo hoisted on their strong shoulders, carrying enough food for the community to feast on for days. All the mothers' breasts gifted their children with milk. Then suddenly the rainfall ceased, temperatures escalated, water muddied and flies and mosquitoes swarmed the stilled water and trees.
"Dead ancestors coming back to settle the score," women said, blaming the brutal weather change on angry ancestral spirits called forth by meanness crafted in the hearts of a few unforgiving men in their community, men who struck their wives and children until they bled, men who kept their brows furrowed and tight. As if spooked by the mosquitoes the cattle, camel and sheep moved in herds across the plain. The last time Mulukan saw the animals, they were ascending a steep hill that seemed to go on forever. Mulukan stood gape-eyed and watched the animals go over the hill. She wanted to go with them. Even now, away from the people who sat beneath the acacia trees, Mulukan stood at the edge of the plain staring at the hill.
"What are you doing?" Bikila, dreams of his father fading, his brown eyes dreary, his body yelping for food that could not be found, called out to her. Moving beyond his four wives, he leaned forward and examined Mulukan. She upset his peace. Yesterday when her mother died he expected her to fall into another mother's arms and weep. She didn't. He watched her. She didn't cry once. This morning she smiled and played with the other children. It was as if she didn't know her father died nine months earlier, crumpling in a ball after he returned from hunting, his liver and kidneys surrendering to a heatstroke, or that her mother died just the previous afternoon.
Mulukan wasn't like her mother, a woman who had been inconsolable for several days after her husband's death. The day her husband died, Mulukan's mother refused comfort. Three weeks later two of Mulukan's brothers were mauled by hungry male lions. It was then Bikila instructed the people to gather their belongings and prepare to move. Grass was being eaten up by the sun. It hadn't rained in three weeks. Having seen this cycle of lack Bikila knew waiting to see what would come of the land would insure doom. The community covered ten miles before they located an area populated with lush trees. They remained a month, until swarms of mosquitoes chased them out. Before they left, Mulukan's mother, melancholy beginning to attach to her with each departing kin, buried her remaining sons and two eldest daughters, malaria snatching them from her, taking them, one by one, back to the earth. The women searched for roots in the underbrush, but nothing but death took the fever away from Mulukan's four siblings. Two weeks later, the community settled in the plain where yesterday Mulukan stood next to bare-breasted women, her head brushing their knees, while she watched her mother's body go back to the earth.
Bikila wondered what would come of Mulukan. He regarded her as if she were a book that, if he studied enough, would bring him wisdom. He made note of her conversation, ill-timed laughter and body language. He measured her responses to life events against those of the other children. The way she dealt with the loss of her family intrigued - frightened him. He began to think there was something sinister about her. It was as if she welcomed suffering, played and laughed with it, made it one of her invisible playmates.
"What are you doing over here by yourself?"
Just as Mulukan went to turn, Bikila was upon her. She felt the heat from his body hovering against her back.
"What are you doing over here?"
Mulukan knew she could be punished, sharp blows coming down upon her shoulders like heavy logs, if she didn't turn and face him. Yet she kept her back to him. "Watching the hill."
He followed her pointing finger then laughed. "Silly girl," he said then he turned and walked away from her.
She didn't move except to lower her arm.
"Come on," he demanded.
She stood with her back to him. He responded by rushing to her side and grabbing her arm. She grimaced while his long, dirty fingernails dug like thick, sharp pins into her skin. She didn't move.
"Mulukan's hunger for Africa's restoration worked like a magnet and pulled people like Kokumuo Kenyatta into her days."
Excerpt Two (further into the story)
(Business area in East Africa)
The way a baby doesn't know it's aging even while it evolves from laying against its mother's soft breasts to crawling to walking to making early attempts at running, Mulukan didn't know that Kokumuo would lead her to the man who would give her the great lessons on Africa, lessons that dug to the heart of the continent, lessons that unearthed truths previously buried beneath generations of colonialism, fear and abuse. The lessons at times would come from books but most often they came from the teacher's mouth. The lessons poured appreciation and joy over Mulukan like a warm shawl covering her skin.
During her first accidental meeting with Kokumuo, Mulukan was mesmerized. Initially scheduled to meet with an older statesman regarding an opening in the Marketing Department, she never meant to interview for the communications writer position at the Office of Government, but when she landed in the interview room Kukumuo, not the elder statesman, showed up.
Kukumuo's large brown eyes, his long, lean frame made strong via tri-weekly visits to the gym, and his full smooth mouth arrested Mulukan's attention during thier first meeting. The way Kokumuo carried his body, the fluid motions in his limbs when he crossed the floor and neared her side, gave out an air of confidence that reminded Mulukan of the sure way the Nile, earth's longest river, went over a bed of earth. The tenderness in Kokumuo's smile cut away at the callous that had grown through the teen years on Mulukan's heart. Kukumuo's smile made Mulukan long to trust again the way she had trusted her father, her mother, her siblings and those back in the plain who transmitted enough courage to always be gentle. Kokumuo's smile pushed deisre into Mulukan; his smile made Mulukan seek to trust when there was no work to do, trust when there was no one for her to save or carry to fresh water.
When Kokumuo neared her side, Mulukan saw her hands shake. She felt emotion go like a ball into her throat. It was all Mulukan could do to stop staring at Kokumuo's well manicured hands, his broad shoulders and his chiseled chin. And when he started to talk, his milky voice almost coaxed Mulukan to sleep until he spoke about the man she would write press releases, speeches, lenghty reports and statistical data for. That man was Abasi Nyathi, the President of Mariami. He was a giant of a man in stature and in spirit. His frame stretched six feet, nine inches long. His girth, though wide, was muscular. He too frequented the gym, often going to the private health club on the third floor of the main complex where his office was located. More frequently than not, Kokumuo accompanied him on those visits to the gym.
At first Mulukan feared that she would never fit into Kokumuo and President Nyathi's schedules, the two men having obviously bonded well over the previous five years they'd worked together, but they took to her the way her brothers had when she was a small girl playing within the reach of her father's and mother's watchful eyes. It was Kokumuo who taught Mulukan the art of speech and press release writing, a skill Mulukan discovered required near as much imagination as fact finding. Kokumuo stayed close to Mulukan. He made sure that she knew how to reach him should she need assistance with a project that was turning out to be more challenging than fulfilling.
The first two months Mulukan worked at the Office of Government, Kokumuo accompanied her to lunch every day and occasionally he escorted her to weekend Arts events. While they rounded corners and moved slowly behind the other art gazers led through the gallery by an expert tour guide, Kokumuo, whispering close to Mulukan's ear, pointed at pieces of art then he went on to share deeper history, facts the guide hadn't given them, behind the work with her. He knew so much sometimes just being with him made Mulukan feel small. Yet, Kokumuo wasn't condescending; his conversations were replete with energy, vigor, humility and honesty. He was grateful for Mulukan's company. As he had told her countless times the first week she worked at the office, she had rescued him from sixteen hour workdays and six-day workweeks.
On a suffocating hot day in June, more than a year after Mulukan started working at the Office of Government, as it had at least once a day, Monday through Friday, for more than a year , Kokumuo's long shadow appeared in Mulukan's office doorway. The urgency he felt didn't reveal itself on his countenance, but his heart beat wildly in his chest. Having spoken with her earlier about a report she was compiling data for, he gave no introduction to his announcement, words he was certain would send Mulukan reeling. "President Nyathi has taken ill."
The pen Mulukan held as she edited the final draft of President Abasi Nyathi's speech landed against the ruled pad and rolled to the edge of her mahogany desk. It was hard to move; the voyage she feared most, death, was yet again upon the door, threatening to snatch away another chunk of her heart.
MORE ABOUT LONG WALK UP
*Long Walk Up is the gripping tale of a young girl's journey from tragedy and poverty to her amazing and triumphant destiny
*Long Walk Up brings two soul mates together in beauty and verse
*Long Walk Up brings the richness of Africa to life across the page
*Long Walk Up is life impacting as it deals with deep global events
Remember that You are not alone. Mulukan truly understands your journey. Trust and Rest in the Source that created us! My friend, keep walking!
(African Pygmy Kingfisher)
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