Author Brings Malian Culture to UMass

Monique and the Mango Rains author Kris Holloway talked about her book and life in Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer last night at UMass Amherst.

“I am going to stop the spread of the Sahara Desert,” Holloway said she thought at 22.

Holloway writes about interacting with Miniankan people, the experience of assisting the birthing process with a young midwife Monique, and applying her Peace Corps training. She gets so personal as to write about her troubles with menstruating in a place where Western accoutrements are not available. 

 Holloway said before she went to Mali, she was an “absolutely righteous vegetarian” from the mid West. 

The friendship between Holloway and Monique transformed Holloway’s life. “Not only was Monique the only mid wife but she was the only healthcare worker,” said Holloway. 

Holloway read from Monique and the Mango Rains describing her “worst cultural faux pas.” In the incident, she had been speaking to an important man in which she fumbled with the language and accidently asked if he had eaten his man parts.

Holloway’s advice to people who were interested in joining the Peace Corps or traveling to another country was “learn the language” and “don’t worry if you don’t have any skills.” 

The talk ended with a question and answer session in which female circumcision was brought up. Holloway said that helping the matter needs to be addressed by taking “a step back with something so culturally sensitive.” She said it was important to keep the coming of age ritual but to work and talk about genital cutting.

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