First, they wash their brains till there’s no strand of humanity remaining. Then they shove guns into their tender hands and turn them into monsters.



In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.


First of all, this book is sublime. It’s the kind of book that must leave you in a reflective mood. You start thinking about life, how we complain of the little discomforts we face, and how we do not know that others pray to have these little discomforts we wish to discard, because at least they would be the lesser evil. Prior to reading this book, I had this misconception about the Northern Nigeria and violence, but then, this book opened my eyes to the reality, to the real truth of what happened and what is happening in the Northern states.

Everyone wants to tell you what someone was thinking, why someone did a thing, why someone said something. There is no way a person can know such things about another person. Allah alone knows the heart of a person.

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.

This is a story about a young boy Dantala, which rightfully translates to ‘Born on a Tuesday.’ At a young age, his father sends him out to a Qur’anic school, but he leaves and joins a group of boys who sleep under the Kuka tree in Bayan Layi. They smoke and fight and work for the small party during elections. On this particular election, they are sure the small party will win, because the big party is tyrannic and the cause of their hardships. So when the big party wins, all hells are let loose. These boys are sent to burn the big party’s office, and they even kill the security officer. Now these young boys aren’t even eligible to vote, but they do the voter registration regardless, and vote during the election, and it is one of the fundamental problems Nigeria faces, electoral malpractice.

I hate that he is fat. I hate his party, how they make us poor. I hate that he was hiding like a rat, fat as he is. I strike behind his neck as he stumbles by me. He crashes to the ground. He groans. I strike again. The machete is sharp. Sharper than I expected.

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.
Please subscribe to my newsletter, while you’re here 😊🙏

These boys are trained to resort to violence whenever words fail, because it is the will of Allah. They’re being brainwashed by some dubious religious extremists, and because they do not know the right way to follow, they follow which ever way would guarantee them their daily meals and some extra cash. When the uproar breaks out in Bayan Layi, Dantala has to flee to Sokoto for safety. He seeks refuge in a mosque run by Sheikh Jamal, and he also meets Malam Abdul-Nur, who is a Yoruba convert from Ilorin, Kwara state.

Dantala comes from a dysfunctional home, one with a deadbeat father and a pathetic mother. His father sends his sons away to become Almajiris in another state, and doesn’t care what becomes of them. Since there is no one to give them the right direction, they falter and wander in whichever way seems the best for survival. His brothers, Hassan, Hussein and Maccido join the Shitte group, an Islamic sect, and Dantala turns into a boy who strikes another human with a cutlass because that is what the small party wants. Dantala’s life is sad and grim, it reeks of poverty and fear and suffering.

If only we had a hospital here, I wouldn’t have to make this long journey back and forth to get her things, but no, if not buying cars, and sharing meat during elections and Sallah, there is nothing else they do. Tell me, for Allah’s sake, what is a little meat when I have to travel to get to a hospital?

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.

In Sokoto, he becomes friends with Jibril, Malam Abdul-Nur’s brother who also comes from Ilorin. He teaches Jibril Arabic, who in turn teaches him English. Sheikh Jamal is a good man, a model Muslim and a great teacher. He teaches them the truth and the right teachings of Islam, but it doesn’t sit well with his assistant Malam Abdul-Nur. The latter doesn’t believe Islam is a religion of peace and thinks western education is haram(taboo.) And no matter how hard Sheikh tries to convince him otherwise, he doesn’t budge. He keeps getting worse till he forms his own terrorist sect and the book becomes more interesting.

Some of the worst enemies of Islam are the ones who deceive innocent people into thinking they are Muslims. Somebody who has no understanding of Islam and its precepts will go around calling himself a Mujahideen. Islam does not put people in bondage like they are doing, or in fear.

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.

I love everything about this book. It gave me the vibes of ‘Beast of no nation’ by Uzodimma Iweala, in that the two protagonists are victims of circumstances. They are made into monsters they never want to become. They are forced into adults, even when they have neither tasted childhood nor the teen age. Dantala doesn’t know what love and affection mean. His whole life has been a sad tale of different misfortunes. He doesn’t know what comfort means, what peace means. I love the narrative technique the writer employed in this book. It’s very simple and straightforward and the descriptions are topnotch.

Poverty is not piety. In the same vein, money does not make a man evil. A man’s character is not defined by what money he has or does not have, but what decisions he takes in spite of having or not having. There are people who have lived a life of abject poverty who will be the first at the gates of hell.

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.

This book doesn’t just give you an insight of how Boko Haram started in Northern Nigeria, it also introduces you to the culture, language and food of the Hausa people. It teaches you things about Islam, it clears all the doubts you might have accumulated over the years, about the Islamic religion. Islam is a religion of peace, but some religious extremists with charismatic authority and eloquence, brainwash their ignorant followers and coerce them into killing and destroying the people who go against their obnoxious teachings and beliefs. This book is a work of fiction, but it doesn’t seem fictitious to me. If anything, it feels real, because the actions are raw and you feel the scenes unfolding in your presence. I recommend this book to everyone, especially those who have doubts about Islam. I’ll rate it as 5/5.

Have you read the book? What do you feel about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on all social media platforms and share with your friends.
Bye🥰🥰 I love you guys!


  1. If it’s Allah or any gods will, then they’d be able to sort it out themselves. They’re meant to be god’s after all. I really hate how religion can be used to turn good people into monsters that think they’re doing good. Almost all the major religions became major religions through violence, because it’s easy to make people do unspeakable things if it’s in the name of their god(s)

  2. This book holds a special place in my heart. From the book cover to the title down to the book content. Love how I learnt so much about the Northern culture and the difficulties they faced.


Leave a Comment