In the Shadow of War Questions and Answers
by Ben Okri

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Why do you think Omovo follows the soldiers who are following the veiled woman?

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Ben Okri’s short story about a young boy, about 11-years-old, curious about the nature of a mysterious woman who has been passing his house every afternoon with a black veil covering her head and face.  As will happen in the minds of children, the boy, Omovo, lets him imagination fill in the blanks regarding the woman’s identity and purpose – a task to which other children in the neighborhood contribute.  As Okri describes his young protagonist’s observations:

“The last time he saw her she had glided past with agitated flutters of her yellow smock. The children stopped what they were doing and stared at her. They had said that she had no shadow. They had said that her feet never touched the ground. As she went past, the children began to throw things at her. She didn’t flinch, didn’t quicken her pace, and didn’t look back.”

Omovo’s curiosity regarding the woman is shared by the three soldiers drinking palm wine on the street below his window.  The soldiers, Omovo...

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