REVIEW: “The Satellite Charmer” by Mame Bougouma Diene

Review of Mame Bougouma Diene, “The Satellite Charmer”, in Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, ed., Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, (Aurelia Leo, 2020) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Ibrahima, by his own description, has many problems. Despite what his friends say, thinking he knows better is not one of them. No, his problems are the dreams that haunt his sleep, the way that sometimes “every muscle in his body contracted, and somewhere, deep in his mind, something opened up.” His problems are all connected to the beam boring down out of the sky, mining the earth for minerals: But what the connection is, and how it came about, and why he doesn’t know — and that’s another problem, one that must be solved.

The mining company that is destroying his homeland, and which is the source of the beam that he feels such an attraction to, is in the background for almost all of the story. And yet, there is no escaping it: Whether for Ibrahima or the reader.

This was another gorgeously long piece, full of meaty depths to sink your teeth into. I enjoyed the way I was able to slowly piece together Ibrahima’s history and the history of his country, and the deep sense of family and community bonds that pervaded his life — how those bonds were forge, and how they were broken.