"What a beautiful, beautiful story of the power of friendship, belief, and support. This memoir kept me fascinated from the very beginning, with rich descriptions of Mandewah's life in a very small village in Sierra Leone, where he first met his friend Tom, through his education, a breathtaking trip on his own up the west coast of Africa, across the Sahara, through northern Africa, and on to Sicily.
I was dazzled by his description, and as I imagined making that trip myself I thought about his real courage. The book contains images that will stay with me always -- the glitter of diamonds in the ground, brought to the surface after a rain and then tagged by the diamond mine people to ensure that the Sierra Leoneans didn't touch them; the stark trip across the Sahara; the shock of his experiences with racism in this country -- and I am left marveling at both the power of the human spirit, and the sustaining power of friendship. I highly recommend this beautiful memoir.”–Lori Stone
“I Couldn’t Stop Reading This Book. Once You Read This Book, You Will Be Telling Francis’s Story to Your Family and Friends.”
(photo: Pastor Bill Wilson on left)
"Not every book I read can capture my attention so I can’t put it down. However, Francis has written his life adventures in a way that had me living every moment of his life with him. I couldn’t stop reading. I had to turn to the next chapter to see what was next. Francis offers in his book, through his experiences, an honest and open exchange of every emotion and feeling known to humankind. And in the way he writes his story you experience with him every moment. You feel the poverty of his childhood. You sense the excitement of his new opportunities. You hurt with him and you grieve with him. And through it all the message of God’s care and God’s grace resting upon Francis is most important. Without God in his life none of what happened would have been possible. Francis offers readers a once in a lifetime adventure, most likely never to be repeated. Once you read his book you will be telling Francis’s story to your family and friends.” – Pastor Bill Wilson, Timothy Lutheran Church, Saint Louis, Missouri
“‘Friendship was a distinct pleasure to read. A terrific tale. A more inspiring memoir I have not read in a long time. In a life filled with hope as well as adversity Mandewah's journey shows the true meaning of perseverance. From Africa, and a friendship borne from his journey to his current home in the United States the writing is uplifting and told with a sincerity and honesty that is admirable.
Exploring the meaning and nature of a true friendship is central to the tale, and when viewed from where it all began in Africa amid the turmoil of the diamond trade and dangers that existed in every corner it is all the more amazing that Madewah has survived with a generous personality and positive outlook on life as well as his future. I encourage others to read this book and offer it to their friends because it is really worth the time to devour and be grateful for a new and exciting voice to be heard.”"–By W. P. Strange
"The story is told first-hand and gives the reader insight into the good and bad dimensions of human behavior on a global level. More than anything, after seeing through the author's eyes; the book becomes a testimony of God's grace and protection. It made me aware of my own challenges and circumstances of the past and present and gives me assurance that God is very much active today. The story pulls you in and has you rooting for the author against what seems like hopeless odds."–Jeff Perona
A Beautiful Book
Five Stars out of Five Stars
"Very touching, beautiful book. The struggles Francis goes through are amazing, and the selflessness that Thomas Johnson shows to help him are truly admirable.” Will recommend through Library Reads List and Library Is Likely to Purchase This Title– Jennifer McGillis, Librarian
A Well Written Adventure that Keeps You Turning Pages–"Francis' story is not just an inspiring tale of a young man overcoming insurmountable odds, it is also a well written adventure that keeps you turning pages. Francis never wavers in his faith in god, although he sometimes doubts his own abilities to meet the challenges of poverty, loss, and abuse. This is a real story about a real hero, but one who had an exceptional guardian angel to help him on his way. The friendship and support of one person helped Francis escape a life of destitution and go on to touch so many others in such positive ways. One person CAN make a difference in the mess of a world that seems so often overwhelming. I cried and cheered throughout this first novel. I hope we here much more from such a talented and insightful author!”–Rosanne Kolberg
"This isn't a reporter's or historian' s tale. This is a "pull up a chair and I'll tell you some things I've seen in this this wide, surprising world" event. The author captivates your imagination with his detailed rendering of circumstance, and takes you on an emotional and thought-provoking journey. There's no banging of a political drum, and yet a steady beat carries the reader through the human life of a boy, a man, a fellow traveler. Some readers may bristle at religious underpinnings, but I found the author's inclusion of his spiritual growth refreshing and organic to the story wherein a boy finds courage, strength and faith through a God who challenges and yet shows mercy. Because the author deeply values his connections with others, perhaps you too will feel that most natural of bonds with a fellow traveler through life. The beauty of this memoir is that it delivers what it's title suggests, a tale of Friendship.”– Kate S.
+++++Have you ever performed an act of kindness and wondered if it had any impact?+++++
"Last night I watched the excellent new movie 'The Letters' about Mother Teresa. It shows the hardships and struggles she endured to bring love and care to the “poorest of the poor” in India, and how her acts of kindness have positively impacted the lives of countless people. Although Mother Teresa was able to see the fruits of her acts of kindness, many of us never know the outcomes for any of our acts of kindness, great or small.
So such books as the interesting and compelling memoir FRIENDSHIP by Francis Mandewah are important because they reinforce our faith in the importance of acts of kindness and friendship. As a young African boy, Francis was befriended by a Minnesota pilot named Thomas Johnson. Francis grew up up in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa in a small village in the region rich with diamonds. Thomas was working as a pilot in that region. He befriended Francis and he provided support to help young Francis have a better life. Johnson's mother came from a line of missionaries, and was born Virginia Elizabeth Pond in a house that her missionary grandparents built in Bloomington, Minnesota, which has been preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society as the Gideon Pond House.
Through support from Thomas, young Francis was able to pursue a life that would take him far away from the impoverished existence in a dangerous war-torn region.
Throughout the book, we hear the voice of someone who grows in his Christian faith and recognizes and appreciates his benefactor and friend Thomas Johnson.
Mandewah writes after a visit back to his homeland in Africa after living in America, 'As I reflected on the failure of our political leaders, I became even more grateful to Thomas Johnson for having changed my life. There were many other poor African children he could have encountered that day, yet God chose me. Without Tom’s altruistic nature and generosity, I am not certain what my life would look like. There would probably not have been any secondary school, college, or graduate school. There probably would have been no time in Ghana, Italy, or Greece. And there would probably have been no Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings with Virginia Johnson, and no Ojibwa friends. The fact is that I had few chances based on where I was born, and Tom changed the odds for me.’" – Joan Holman
A Tear Jerker
“This autobiography starts with a young boy and ends with a well-seasoned man. It shows the relationship between the boy and an adult man who because friends and how their lives entangled with those around them. A tear jerker! I know I had tears flowing at least from the middle of the book to the end. The book started slowly; however, it got much better. Mr. Mandewah was able to succeed through his trials because of his faith, prayers, his continued thankfulness to God, and God’s grace toward him. He met an American pilot in Francis’ hometown in Africa as a young boy, and Francis’ life was altered forever. The boy and man became friends. Francis had a desire to go the school, but his family could not pay for secondary school as they had very little to live on. Francis met Tom Johnson who was a U. S. pilot, and Tom told Francis that they were friends. This was new to Francis as he had been bullied or abused most of his young life. Tom told Francis he would send him to school.
The story goes from how Francis made it through secondary school in Africa to graduate school in the United States. Tom kept his promise showing Francis that he was a true friend. Francis prayed consistently and always thanked God for his blessings. One must continue to trust in God even when things seem bleak. God is faithful and just to make things work for us, and you can see this throughout Mr. Mandewah’s story. Life is not always fair.”–Laverne Winn
“An Amazing Story. You Will Want to Encourage A Friend to Pick Up A Copy of This Book.”
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
REVIEW BY LIBRARIAN SUE BUAK POSTED ON “AN ITSEY BITSEY BOOK BLOG"
"Francis Mandewah was born just before rice farming season in 1961 in the small impoverished village of Punduru in Sierra Leone. His early years were spent in a loving environment with his widowed mother and sisters scratching out a life on their subsistence farm. Although English is the official language of Sierra Leone, the residents of Punduru speak the regional language of Mende. The United Methodist Church established a missionary school and church in the community with the mission of converting the children and adults to Christianity as well as providing access to primary school education for the children.
Young Konomueh Mandewah despite the poverty and dire living conditions enjoyed the harmony of life in his small community and was thrilled for the opportunity to attend primary school when he was 8 years-old. The many changes to his life began with his first steps toward formal education; his introduction to English, the assignment of his Christian name…Francis, and perhaps of more lasting import, the development of his relationship with God as his confidant and source of strength.
As a young child, Francis had a reoccurring dream that would prove prescient in his search for purpose and meaning throughout his early years and well into adulthood.
In the dream I have passed a test and my reward is a journey. “Where are you going, my son?” I can hear my mother say. I become nervous about not having an answer for her. I go around the room frantically trying to find someone who will tell me my future. No one answers…the door…opens. I walk…through the door. I … awaken with the urge to know where I am going.
After completing his primary school education, Francis reached a pivotal moment in his life. In order to further his education and life experience, something he desired almost deliriously, he would need to leave the comfort of his known world and go to another town to attend secondary school. And he would need room, board, and the cost of tuition. His loving mother unable to provide the money needed to help Francis reached out to a distant cousin for assistance.
Francis did receive his secondary education but at great cost to him physically, mentally and spiritually. His first encounter with abuse and violence was so well crafted in the memoir that I cringed each time his cousin lifted the electric cord to strike him. And I warn the reader that you will cringe many more times throughout this amazing story as an almost unbelievable number of times Francis lifts himself up from life’s blows buoyed by his unfailing confidence that through prayer, God would provide.
In the midst of the harsh living conditions in his cousin’s home and bowed by abject despair and loneliness, Francis found an answer to his reoccurring dream when a tall blond-haired pilot with helicopter wings proved to be his earthly guardian angel. Tom Johnson, stepping out of his comfortable life, walked up to a young African boy selling oranges in the dusty road and made a life altering decision that would change both of their lives forever. Tom would prove to be the single most influential person in helping Francis achieve his educational dreams and fulfill his long earnest desire to come to the United States.
The journey from Punduru to the United States winds through the deadly Sahara Desert, Algeria, Greece, Italy, England and much more. His vivid descriptions of these stops along his life’s journey will inspire some readers to plan their next vacation trip!
Mandewah exposes his inner soul and at times you feel the raw wounds in his psyche as he encounters discrimination, poverty, threats, cruelty and dire loneliness. Yet there is more to his story besides the unbelievable cruelty in the world; Francis finds that there are more beautiful people of every color and stripe than he could have imagined. The open hearts of these people, in his eyes, were placed in his path by God. Their openness and generosity will leave the reader inspired.
The most endearing moments for me are the honest admissions of human failure that he brings upon himself. He always finds a way through prayer and meditation to grab himself by the boot straps and take that next positive step. And there are so many times that the reader will feel the wonder and amazement through the eyes of this man as he discovers what lies beyond the mud brick home of his childhood.
You will applaud him in the end and you will want to encourage a friend to pick up a copy of the book.
As Francis says, it’s about Friendship.” –Sue Buak
Out of Africa: A Memoir that Reads Like An Adventure Story
REVIEW BY JANET KIRK ON THE "FAITH COUNTS” BLOG
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
"This is a memoir that reads like an adventure story. It is written by a new author, Francis Mandewah, who writes about his life as a child in Africa, and how his life changed forever. He then covers his life up to the present.
This is a fascinating story!
I was delighted by the author’s description of how the people in his village received the news. They had no newspaper, no radio. They had a town crier, who would signal for attention, and as everyone stopped to listen, he announced the news for the entire village to hear!
I found myself uplifted by this story.
I wanted to cheer him on, and tell him, “Don’t give up”. Francis has a tenacity and hope that serve him well, but he needs some help, and finds it in surprising ways. He is helped by a nun and by a pilot from the United States. He accepts this help joyfully, even as he accepts the circumstances of a life in Africa, poor and fatherless. His father died while Francis was still an infant. To his mother’s credit, she finds ways for Francis to attend school. School is the step up he needed to have hope of a better future.
The author’s mother, needing a way to support her family without her husband, has a small farm where she grows coffee, cacao, bananas, kola nuts, cotton, pineapple, peppers, and okra. I was amazed at the variety of what she grew! She also had chickens for eggs. Breakfast was often several bananas. The family lived without electricity, without running water, using a stream for water, and a community latrine.
This is such an encouraging book.
By the end of the book, I was encouraged myself, to find ways to give to others, sharing the blessings I have had in my life. As a result, my husband and I added another child sponsorship to our giving. This child we have sponsored lives in Africa, too.
I say, 'Thank you’ to Francis Mandewah for writing this story about his life. It is encouraging to others, to hope for a better future, to accept their circumstances, but to look for and be ready for new opportunities. The author’s courage is evident as he travels alone, where he has never been before. Also evident in his story, is the importance of prayer in his life. He learned to pray in elementary school.
I hope you will read this book! It is a very interesting true story, that keeps your interest throughout. It will encourage you and surprise you.
I wrote to the author after I had started reading his book. I said to Francis, 'God evidently had his eye on you, as well as the sparrow.’"
"As a newspaper editor, I come across many great stories every year. But FANTASTIC stories are for more rare. The story of Francis Mandewah is one of those few stories that will stay with me forever. 'Friendship' isn't a story. It's a man's real-life experience written from the heart. Francis Mandewah's account of his true life journey will leave you with faith in the good of your fellow man and amazement in how a chance meeting between two individuals shaped two lives forever. It's a story that reminds us of the good in and the fact that, yes, there are times when the 'good guys' win. You will be captivated by this story and won't want to put this book down."–Amazon Customer/Newspaper Editor
"This book left me in a feeling of awe. These experiences that are all too real to many of us. Francis faith in God, as his source of everything is not only compelling but inspiring. Those of us who are Christians understand the need to rely on God to be your everything; and those who are not, know how much inner strength it takes to defy the odds and be successful in reaching your goals. The true life incidents, Francis relays is at times a bit much for the reader, I do advise discretion for children reading this book. i believe the author took a deep step in sharing his story with us, opening up his soul to help others. This wasn't just a story to say he'd been treated unfairly, but to open our eyes to see that a dream can be achieved, even if there are obstacles to overcome. Thank you for allowing me to read this.”–AJ
"An excellent story of a man and his faith and how with determination and support, there is no goal that can't be accomplished. I wanted to keep reading the book each time I picked it up to see what was going to happen next. The "journey" was one of challenges and victories. This book really gives one an understanding of how so many people have to fight so many odds to accomplish their dreams. I enjoyed the book tremendously!"–Amazon Customer
"This is an inspiring story of a man of integrity who has the faith and courage to keep moving forward in his life believing that God is with him all the way. I was transported into all the adventures and challenges that came into Francis' life. One encounter with a friend, who inspired trust and confidence in a young boy from Sierra Leone, is the pivotal factor that moves Francis forward through crossing the Sahara, living in Greece and Italy on his way to his dream to come to America. What moved me about this memoir is how, in spite of personally facing the harsh realities of racism in today's society, he maintains that sense of self worth and integrity that brings him through. It is a powerful account of gratitude, forgiveness and belief in goodness in human beings.”–Mary Lou
After I read the book, I happened to be in the town where Francis lived. I met him and he talked some more about his journey. Wow! How bad he wanted an education and what he did to get it, incredible. It shows the good and the bad in people, but really renews your hope in humanity.”–Robert Christianson
"Congratulations! This is a great memior!"–Nadine Brown
"In terms of the story itself this book is inspiring, riveting and interesting and it really reminds you to be grateful for all that we have. The cover is very symbolic of the relationship between two men, Francis and Thomas, and talks to the rawness of this real-life memoir. What attracted my attention to this book was the reference to the movie “Blood Diamond”, as I found the movie to be interesting and thought-provoking, and I was interested to learn more about the general background to the movie and how the settings/culture/experiences in this novel relate to aspects of the movie. The story encompasses the themes of determination, inner-strength, passion, generosity, compassion, faith and commitment to a dream/goal. The writing style doesn’t quite showcase the story to its full potential at times, and the novel likely would have benefited from some overall editing, but the story is still one which is personal, intense, real and courageous. The story is very thought-provoking, and deals with many deep issues, narrating about places and real-life experiences which are dramatically different from what many of us know and have experienced. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy moving memoirs which have a powerful, intense story to tell, dealing with central issues and themes which provoke thought and discussion.”–Sandra
"Wow! I feel truly honored and blessed to have read this uplifting memoir of the triumph through perseverance and faith in God. This book is the true life journey of Francis Mandewah, born in a small village in Sierra Leone, who overcomes obstacles, abuse, and failures to achieve his goal. After reading this book, I want to recommend it to everyone because it is truly awe inspiring to watch Francis build himself up through all the challenges that come his way. I think that is something everyone should take with them after reading this story, I know I will. I do warn you there are parts in this book that won't only bring you to tears but you will flinch and feel his pain. I couldn't look away, I owed him that for having gone through such terrible events. So many would be broken after, but the way he would consistently piece himself together with his unfaltering faith in God was stunning to me. Aside from the encouraging tale, the book itself is so well-written. Francis Mandewah fills the pages with vivid descriptions that you feel like you are there with him the entire time. I loved this book. Five stars."–Katie A Blanchard
"I just finished reading FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance, and if you enjoy honesty, bravery, and love, then this is a book for you. This is a brutally honest story of a young African boy's daily struggle to survive and succeed in an extremely poverty stricken village in Africa. This talented writer truly moved me both emotionally and psychologically with his in your face honesty. I found the direct absolute truth both shocking and refreshing living in a culture that wastes words and avoids direct communication. It was an honor to be allowed a glimpse into the tribal culture of Africa and be taken along on the journey of adventure and true FAITH in God, the power of prayer, and trust. The author's perceptions of life are from standing on the bottom and looking up at the rest of the world. Thanks to the talented presentation of this beautiful story I was humbled as I'm sure that other readers will surely be. Although I found the simplicity and ambiguity of the cover a bit underwhelming for one of the most powerful and insightful reads that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Thorough and precise proofing and editing throughout this book make for a smooth read. One of the most eloquent descriptors in the story that I will never forget is, "she work the sadness draped across her shoulders." Thank you for the education and entertainment that you gave with this great story.”–Marc and Paula
Disclosure: This product was received for free/discounted however this in no way influenced this review. We only write honest reviews regardless of whether we purchase a product at full price, at a discount, or received for free.
"Friendship is an account of a young mans journey from Sierra Leone to America for his education. He meets his benefactor Tom while selling oranges one day in his village. The story itself is one of perseverance in the face of struggle and poverty, which is quite inspiring. The problem I had was one of the writing itself. The story is told in such a way that all of the action is taken out of the story. Even conversations are told in the past tense and lose their immediacy, which in turn lose the readers connection to the story. There are a few conversations that take place in the present tense which moves the book and the story along. The other form of writing makes a very exciting passage, such as crossing the Sahara desert, into a plodding, uninteresting section that should have been tense and breathtaking. Unfortunately, the whole book was written in this manner and what should have been an incredible story was made mediocre by writing style. The overall bones of a great story is definitely here and can be appreciated, all that needs is a final rewrite to take it out of all explaining what happened, translating into actionable passages that will make people want to read, and not be able to put down.”–LeeAnn Galli
FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance by Francis Mandewah is a memoir about a young African boy from Sierra Leone who endures a lot of hardship before travels the world to go to America. The story starts with Francis childhood, where he lives in a small village called Punduru. His widowed mother and sisters love him despite living in poverty. Everything starts to take turns when he leaves his family to attend a secondary school. This story is really poignant; Francis learns and experiences life in a very hard way. He lives in poverty, being abused and treated cruelly by his own cousin and lives a lonely life but his faith in God never feeble. It is amazing really to think about it because how many people nowadays still believe in God when life starts to be hard to them?This book addresses the concerning matter about our world today; the racism in our society that becomes worse by time and it touches the harsh reality of how brutal world could be even to kids. A pilot from Minnesota, Tom Johnson, is a really amazing and incredible guy; his thoughtful help nurtures Francis about tolerance, gratitude, and love. His presence and influence really play an important part in Francis's life. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a memoir or simply a good touching story because I really enjoy my time reading it.”–Mimi Jazman
The author brings to life the purity of youth, faith and friendship as he writes of his early teen years in Sierra Leone and the chance meeting of an American pilot. Unusual in any world, this black young man is befriended by a white man wishing to help him continue an education his family was hard-pressed to afford. Told in the first person, the reader will become attached to the young man’s trials, cheer when life throws him a gift and at all times be reminded of the difficulties of his journey from youth to young man undertaken with a moral strength to be admired.”–Pat
"A powerful personal story that made me appreciate the strife of others. Given the start that Francis had in such a violent country you might have thought the odds were against him and they were but what he has over come is remarkable. A genuine testament to the power of faith and the human spirit I hope this book reaches a wide audience because it is a story that needs to be shared.”–D Brent
A Friendship That Rose Above Race
November 2, 2016
Rarely have I read so many enthusiastic reviews of a book as those lavished upon Friendship**, the memoir of Sierre Leone-born Francis (Konomueh) Mandewah. But while the author’s global, death-defying adventures are being promoted on the back of Hollywood political thriller Blood Diamond, it is crystal clear that a life-affirming joy of every day and his devout Christian faith are the true stars of his story.
Mandewah relates with vivid recall a life of rural poverty and domestic brutality at the hands of a distant cousin that was overturned by a chance meeting with US pilot Thomas Johnson.
The American, who had been flying diamonds and other gems from Yengema to Freetown in Sierra Leone, paid for Mandewah’s education locally before helping him through college in the US. Friendship
However, Mandewah’s path to the States was not easy and he experienced a thrilling, terrifying, sometimes life-threatening self-imposed initiation into adulthood by travelling across the Sahara Desert to reach Europe, where he lived first in Sicily, then Greece, enjoying what appear to be the happiest, most successful years of his life.
Certainly, he excels at all farming duties because of his rural upbringing and I ask him here, with the benefit of hindsight, whether he would have been better served studying agriculture with a view to farming in his own right?
However, after graduating with degrees from three US colleges, Mandewah worked as a probation and parole agent in Wisconsin and for reasons not wholly comprehensible even on careful reading, he fell foul of his superiors and spent many years and a small fortune suing first for wrongful arrest and then dismissal from his job.
Mandewah now lives in Ferguson, Missouri where race riots erupted in August 2014 following the fatal police shooting of Mike Brown, a black unarmed teeanger.
He says: “It was a white man who laid the foundation and paved the way for me to come to America so I could realise the American dream. Our friendship transcended race, and has built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross--cultural relationships.”
**Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $2.99 and Paperback @ $14.99.
"A truly remarkable personal tale of heartfelt friendship between an American whose unexpected generosity touched a live spirit in a young African in Sierra Leone in the 1970’s. The encounter paved the way to an extraordinary journey through the Sahara, Sicily, Italy, Greece and Turkey and finally ending up in the USA where he completed his education only to face institutional racism and bigotry which he faced with courage and exceptional fortitude.”–Tony
“I do not usually read these types of books, but a friend recommended it so strongly, I decided to try it....I was drawn into the down to earth depiction of the life he led in his native country. This human interest story was clear and concisely written and I highly recommend it.”–Hartford Pam