A Moonless, Starless Sky

Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa
Ruth McDowall
Oct. 10, 2017

Extremism across the continent of Africa has been widely researched and reported; less covered are the stories of those who have been survivors—and resisters—of it.

A Moonless, Starless Sky, the debut book by New America National Fellow, Alexis Okeowo, is a vivid account of Africans who are courageously countering their continent's wave of fundamentalism. Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony's LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women's basketball league flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. 

Complicating the simplistic good-guy, bad-guy narratives common in describing the continent, the book illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary — lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.

On October 3, the book's release day, New America NYC hosted a conversation with Alexis Okeowo and BuzzFeed's Miriam Elder on the state of extremism in Africa today — and how the local responses to it can better inform global national security policy.


Alexis Okeowo @alexis_ok
Staff writer, The New Yorker
New America National Fellow, Class of 2016 & 2017
Author, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa
2012 IRP Fellow, reporting from Nigeria

Miriam Elder @MiriamElder
World Editor, BuzzFeed News