Boof writer is starting to pay for her torrid 1996 love affair
with the world's most feared terrorist Osama Bin Laden. She had to
remove her son from an Elementary school when people noticed the boy
looked so much like Bin Laden!
American author who says she was forced into sexual servitude by Osama
bin Laden has pulled her 5-year-old son out of a Los Angeles
elementary school after rumors swirled that bin Laden was the child's
December 11, 2002, New York Times
Who is Kola Boof?
She might be, as she claims, the object of a fatwa ordering her
death because of her vehement criticism of the Muslim government in
her native Sudan. Or she might be, as some have suggested, an author
trying to bring attention to her books by fabricating a provocative
public persona, using the specter of fatwa as a marketing ploy.
Either way, the Kola Boof story demonstrates how flashpoints are
reached in cyberspace, the new forum for underground literature and
politics, where fact and myth become indistinguishable and publicity
campaigns become a kind of performance art. Without the imprimatur of
a major publisher or a mainstream review or a public appearance, she
has managed to instigate anger and discussion about her work.
Ms. Boof said a fatwa was ordered up on her in London for her stand
against organized religion, but particularly against Arab Muslims.
Sudanese officials in London, however, said that was not true. One of
those officials did denounce her in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a leading
Arab-language newspaper in the United Kingdom. A number of well-known
African-American activists have taken up her causes, which include her
opposition to slavery in the Sudan and her condemnation of stoning and
female castration and other harsh measures taken against African
They include Derrick Bell, the New York University law professor
and author of several books, most recently "Ethical Ambition:
Living a Life of Meaning and Worth," and Joe Madison, the
Washington radio personality who for 14 years was on the board of the
N.A.A.C.P. The attention has translated into sales. "Long Train
to the Redeeming Sin" (North African Book Exchange), her
collection of earthy and impressionistic stories about racial
identity, has been selling briskly on AALBC.com, an online service
that specializes in books for African-Americans, but is by no means a
Ms. Boof's Web site appeared on the Internet a few months ago,
presenting her as a mysterious but alluring figure, whose life
provided a potent brew of international politics, diplomatic and
sexual - part Graham Greene, part Jacqueline Susann. Among other
things, she claims she briefly was Osama bin Laden's mistress, in the
More often, in subsequent postings and interviews, she invokes the
memory of her father, an Egyptian archaeologist, and her mother, a
Somali nomad. Ms. Boof said they were killed in front of her in Sudan,
where the family was then living, and that her given name was Naima
Bahri. Sometimes she says she was 10 or 12, sometimes 8. After that,
she said she was adopted by an African-American family in Washington,
whose names she won't reveal.
Her startling author photograph for "Long Train," in
which she poses defiant and naked from the waist up, has become the
subject of much lewd Internet chat. Ms. Boof said she wanted to
discredit the notion that breasts were sexual objects and to celebrate
the nakedness of African women. She has deplored the influence of
Western culture on African women, and certainly, "Long
Train" presents a bleak and angry vision of their lives.
Soon she was being touted on radio programs as an advocate for the
cause of southern Sudan in the 20-year civil war between the
Arab-dominated government in the north and the subjugated black
African south. She says she was born Muslim, but has since rejected
organized religion. In a statement posted on the Web, she says,
"For just as Harvard University is an institution created by men
so is every religion."
Now newspapers have begun associating her name with fatwa in
diverse outlets like Pravda, The Village Voice, The Washington Times
and The New York Post.
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement, representing the non-Muslim
faction in the civil war, embraced her and then backed away, as Ms.
Boof's personal, if not literary, credentials have been called into
question. They may be more cautious, too, since the Sudan Peace Act
was signed by President Bush on Oct. 21, which authorizes $300 million
in aid to the south and requires the two sides to negotiate in good
"Her writing speaks of anguish and protest and of fighting
against an unjust regime," said Deng Ajak by telephone from
London, where he is secretary general of the Sudan Commission for
Human Rights. Mr. Deng has read excerpts of "Long Train" on
the Internet, but has not read the book itself.
Mr. Deng added: "But when she said in one of her own e-mails
to me that she had a brief encounter of dating Osama bin Laden, I said
to my colleagues that we need to pull the plug on this one. This could
be one of the most impressively spun and choreographed pieces of
fiction that one could imagine, or she may be legitimate. That is a
big maybe for now."
Ms. Boof manages simultaneously to seek publicity and to shroud
herself in secrecy. Her publisher isn't just obscure; it is curiously
absent. Calls taken by an answering machine at the Fullerton, Calif.,
office of the North African Book Exchange went unanswered. But her
book "Long Train" does exist.
"I can't deny that I'm a conniving person," said Ms. Boof
- or a woman who said she was Ms. Boof - in a series of telephone
conversations that took place after many e-mail messages were
exchanged. She made the calls, refusing to divulge her whereabouts,
except to say she was somewhere near Los Angeles. "I came from
hell," she said. "My parents were killed in my presence.
That changed me forever. I have to manipulate the system, and I don't
mind if you publish that. Women have to manipulate the system to teach
young women how to grow up and be better women than I am."
"People can't believe my life is real," she said.
"But the pain of it has been like living in a furnace."
She said she was shot at outside Los Angeles - and that she shot
back - and that she was under F.B.I. protection. The F.B.I. in Los
Angeles said, through a spokeswoman, the agency had no knowledge of
Ms. Boof. This didn't faze Ms. Boof. "That's their way of
protecting me," she said.
On the telephone, the woman was articulate and loquacious, moving
from humorous self-deprecation to passionate denunciation of the
treatment of women in Islamic countries. She told flamboyant stories
about her life in Egypt and Morocco, where, she said, she was a
B-movie actress and a high-level prostitute, operating in luxury
hotels, not on the street.
Her "sudden" appearance on the Internet several months
ago wasn't accidental. "Long Train" was originally published
in Arabic, in North Africa, and released in this country a year ago.
Yi Nee Ling, then the public relations person for North African Book
Exchange, created the campaign to make the writer's work known to
African-American female audiences in the United States. "I used
the Internet to give the world an `African Garbo,' " Ms. Ling
said by e-mail. "But Kola Boof seems to be tearing it down. She
talks too much in my opinion." Ms. Ling said she recently parted
ways with the publisher and Ms. Boof.
The campaign was successful in a modest way. "Kola Boof is
good at promotion, at getting her name out, and moving her book,"
said Troy Johnson, who founded AALBC.com, the online bookselling
service, in 1998. "For an author not published by a major house,
her book is doing better than any book of its type." But sales
are still small, even though Ms. Boof is one of his top sellers.
"In the hundreds, not thousands," Mr. Johnson said.
By early November, Ms. Boof's public relations strategists also
included Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo, a political activist and former
reporter for The Los Angeles Times and The Miami Herald, and Maria
Sliwa (sister of Curtis Sliwa, who 20 years ago attracted much
attention with his Guardian Angels, self-appointed protectors of New
York City's subway passengers). Ms. Sliwa, now 47 and studying
journalism at New York University, has traveled to Sudan and has been
working to bring attention to human-rights violations there.
Ms. Ifateyo signed on after reading about Kola Boof on the
Internet. "I was so moved, so touched, so sad," she said.
For two weeks, every day at the bus stop I'd think about her. What can
I do to help this woman. I sent her an e-mail to let her know I
support her." Only then did she read "Long Train,"
which fascinated her and disturbed her. "I had never seen such
beautiful descriptions of black skin," she said. "As a
fellow writer, I thought she was just wonderful."
Ms. Sliwa and Ms. Ifateyo contacted many news organizations,
including The New York Times, to announce that demonstrations on
behalf of Kola Boof would take place at the United Nations in New York
and in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington on Nov. 7. Only a
handful of people turned up (including this reporter), but that fact
was omitted in subsequent public discussions on the Internet. Ms.
Boof's ranking on Amazon.com's mysterious daily measurement of its
book sales jumped from 190,000 to 951 in a day and she was booked on
several radio programs.
One of those shows was "Back to Africa," Mr. Madison's
nationally broadcast satellite radio show. "Her conviction and
commitment to the whole Sudan peace effort just impressed me,"
said Mr. Madison, who for six years has been trying to bring the
spotlight to the issue of slavery in Sudan. He interviewed Ms. Boof
for an hour, by telephone.
"I didn't approach this interview naïvely, and I questioned
her extensively and she didn't hesitate," he said. As for her
claim of death threats, Mr. Madison said: "This is not a unique
experience. That's something that happens to most people who have
taken up this issue. The more visible you are, the more vocal you are,
the more threats you receive."
Alicia Banks, a former talk-show host in Atlanta, now living in
Arkansas, said she has met Ms. Boof, the first time in 1997. "My
biggest concern for Kola is that she is haunted by some deep, dark
secrets," Ms. Banks said.
Sudanese diplomats insist that no fatwa has been issued. "It's
quite bizarre and baseless this claim," Jamal Ibrahim, the deputy
head of the Sudanese mission to Britain, said in a telephone
interview. "My own view is that she wants to make use of this to
help her in selling her books. It is a bizarre exercise in public
That didn't stop Mr. Ibrahim from contributing to the publicity, by
writing an attack on Ms. Boof in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. "Kola Boof is
a `phobia-maker' produced by the new crusade to tell us that she came
to fight Islam," Mr. Ibrahim wrote.
"This woman who is full of insanity and falsehood and
dishonesty has nothing to make us afraid of her," he continued.
"She is a wooden cross planted in the field to terrify the birds
from eating the fruits when they are ripe, though she is standing in a
spot where the Islamic world should pay attention."
But criticism isn't the same as a fatwa, which is a juristic
opinion issued by a Muslim scholar to address a specific problem, that
can be related to political, economic or social issues. "Nobody
issued a fatwa against Kola Boof," said Sheikh Omar Bakri, a
senior judge of the Islamic Sharia court in London. "I know she
was criticized by a Muslim official in London, but he isn't in a
position to issue a fatwa."
Professor Bell of N.Y.U. read "Long Train" and admired
it. He began an e-mail correspondence with Ms. Boof several months ago
when she sent him a fan e-mail message and asked for advice about
publishing. Though he never met her, she confided in him about
problems with her boyfriend and her fears of being assassinated.
"She never asked me for money or to do anything on her
behalf," he said. "I volunteered to send her work to my
agent. I have no sense she's a sham. Am I the most knowledgeable
person in recognizing a hoax? No. But I do recognize jive and I got no
sense of that."
Not all of Ms. Boof's supporters feel as certain. Ms. Sliwa has
distanced herself because she is worried that the murkiness
surrounding Ms. Boof could hurt the cause of those opposing the
Khartoum government. "I don't think it behooves our human rights
interest to connect ourselves with someone who is inconsistent and
can't prove her identity," Ms. Sliwa said.
And there are those of Sudanese origin who are frustrated that it
takes a Kola Boof to bring attention to the problems in Sudan. "I
don't know why she wants to be an activist," said Edward Malwal,
an international trade specialist for the state of Connecticut. Mr.
Malwal has lived in exile from his country since 1979 because of the
political situation there. "Why doesn't she let her writing speak
for itself?" he asked.
But then she wouldn't be Kola Boof - or would she?
Sudanese woman sentenced to beheading
Please forward to feministlists
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 07:12:34 -0800 (PST) From: SendMeYourNews <SendMeYourNews@theblacklist.net> Subject: KOLA BOOF fights back! Don't let them kill her.
----- Original Message ----- From: <Kwamebrathwaite@aol.com> Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:27 AM Subject: Don't let them kill this sister KOLA BOOF fights back! WHEN: Nov. 7th 2002 (Thursday)Time: 5 p.m. At the United Nations Building in New York City At the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. At the Islamic Cultural Headquarters in Los Angeles, Ca More than 600 demonstrators...will gather in New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles...simultaneously.... to protest the Sept. 26th death sentence from Sudan ordering that Black womanist writer Kola Boof is to be beheaded for the crime of blasphemy against Islam and treason against Sudan (*see complete details below). This is called in Islamic Shari'a Law...a "fatwa".... ..however, Kola Boof: http://www.kolaboof.com/ and many others would like to remind the world that the men (listed below) who are issuing this most serious death threat against her life...are not qualified to issue a fatwa...and even if they were...the whole thought of murdering a human being...just because you disagree with what they believe and have to say...is an idea that should have perished with the dark ages. Unfortunately, to many Arab Muslim fundamentalists...2002 IS the dark ages! We must rebel against this! Kola Boof is a talented, courageous Black African woman who used her life to fight against the slavery and ethnic-cleansing that currently disgraces Sudan. A holocaust that has been described by General Colin Powell as: "The single worst human rights nightmare on the planet!" On November 7th.... we shall launch the first attack against Sudan's Taliban-like Arab Muslim regime and their arrogant death threats by taking to the streets and officially declaring that...KOLA BOOF (who Sudan's "African" soldiers have named. our Most Gracious Queen Kola)...is off limits to terrorist assassins and demagogues...within and without Sudan. We will not tolerate terrorist assassinations in America! In this country...we have freedom of speech. Please support us as we demonstrate on behalf of Kola Boof (our beloved Queen Kola) on Nov. 7th.... Here are the Contact names of the Event Leaders in each city: New York City ZULU Mageba 212-368-0674 Email: Bosiaart@aol.com Maria Sliwa 973-546-3094 (Press) Washington D.C. Ajowa Ifateyo 202-882-0192 (Press) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Brother Mwariama 202-543-7023 Los Angeles Capt. Tandasizwe (Thandi) 213-792-4178 COMPLETE PRESS INFORMATION:Kola Boof has been found guilty of: "Blasphemy and Treason" Codicile: "...guilty of deliberately and maliciously bearing false witness against religious sentiment and of willing treason against her Arab Muslim father's people and against her nation, the Sudan." NOTE: Kola Boof points out that she has not been Muslim since around 10 and that the men issuing said fatwa are not qualified to do so. Sudan being a terrorist Taliban-like state...these Islamic politicians have elevated their own status, according to Boof. Of course...Boof's technical observations will not stop the fatwa from being carried out. The fatwa was issued on Sept. 26th. But on Sept. 15th there was a warning that it would be issued when a Diplomat from Sudan's government, Gamal Ibrahaim, wrote a scathing article about Kola Boof in London's largest daily Arabic newspaper, "Al-Sharq al-Awsat"...in which he called Kola Boof, "a blasphemer of Islam"..."a fake".."mentally unstable"..."a prostitute"....and "a liar”. Kola Boof gave an interview (Oct. 9th) to longtime journalist Charlie Butts on USA Radio News in which she confirmed and discussed the issue. Ms. Boof already survived an attempt on her life on Aug. 21st. Against the wishes of the F.B.I., she gave a two hour interview to Lynne Duke of the Washington Post--but when the Feds refused to cooperate with Lynne Duke for the interview, the story was cancelled by the writer's editor for obvious reasons. The Fatwa:Ms. Boof is to be beheaded. She is issued "fatwa". She was suggested for fatwa by diplomat of the Sudanese government Gamal Ibrahaim. The matter was ratified by the following: Hassan Turabi (National Islamic Front), Ali Muhammad Taha (NIF), Sharif al-Tuhami (NIF)..Tanzim Wasti (London's Sudan Committee), Saad Faqih and PALESTINIAN government official..Mohammed Sobieh. Although Kola Boof argues that these men are not "designated" to hand down a fatwa...the regime in Khartoum is recognized as a terrorist government and is not above declaring itself a religious court and its members Islamic Scholars. As well as this, the fatwa was announced by Islamic extremist Sheikh Omar Bakri of London. SOURCES: On Sept. 26th 2002...Simon Jok (SPLA in London) received notification of the fatwa against Kola Boof by telephone from three people--Sheikh Omar Bakri (Muslim extremist), the secretary of Tanzim Wasti (head of London Sudan Committee)and secretary of diplomat Gamal Ibrahaim (who blasted Kola Boof in an article for London's largest Arab newspaper just one week before). These threats were also sent to Riek Machar--the 2nd in Command (only to Dr. John Garang)of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (of which Kola Boof is a member). That same evening, Sheikh Omar Bakri, founder of Osama Bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders and self-appointed Judge of The Sharia Court of the U.K. distributed leaflets in London announcing Boof's fatwa and e-mails were sent to various people around the world, heralding the author's execution. Fatwa is also pending on: Women's author Taslima Nasreen (Nasrin) of Bangledesh, Salman Rushdie (writer/London) *His fatwa was supposedly lifted, but British government reports that he continues to be hunted. They have him on 24 hour security according to published reports. Terrence McNally, an American writer who wrote a play about Jesus Christ being homosexual.It is believed that the only reason these 3 most famous cases are still alive...is because of the media coverage that makes it embarrassing to Arab Muslim societies to carry out the killings. However, fundamentalists often make strikes against these people and continue to vow that these people will be eventually killed. A fatwa is a legal decision issued by an Islamic Scholar. This document is an official press release--our sources being...the North African Book Exchange (Russom Damba), the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, the Publicists for Kola Boof (Nafisa Goma and Ajowa Ifetayo) and most importantly.... Ms. Kola Boof herself. Mageba (Kwabena Tshupa Bosia kaZulu) ..."protestors were chanting "Izwe Lethu" which means "Our land" or gave the thumbs up "freedom salute, and shouted "Afrika"... Sharpeville Massacre. Inkululeko nenqubekelo phambili (Freedom and prosperity) Ukwanda kwaliwa ngumthakathi (Anyone who doesn't want the people to succeed and increase is a witch)