Written by Carolyn Marsden Philip Matzigkeit
Review by Nan Curnutt

In a Methodist mission in Rhodesia in 1964, two 12-year-old boys call themselves Sahwira, meaning best friends who are closer than brothers. One boy, Evan, is from America. He is white, and his parents are teachers in the mission. The other boy, Blessing, is the son of the mission’s pastor. He is black. At the mission, everyone lives in peace. Unfortunately, outside the mission, the world of Rhodesia is not at all at peace.

Evan attends an all-white school in town, while Blessing attends the mission’s school. Evan’s friends at school make fun of him and his parents for being “kaffir lovers.” They do not approve of treating black people equally.

Blessing has problems of his own. His minister father is taken to jail for questioning when a white man is killed near the mission. Blessing’s friends from the mission don’t understand why he is friends with a white boy. Evan and the young men in his school are trained as cadets. They are asked to look for signs of rebellion from the black people around them. They are offered rewards for any information they find. When Evan sees a piece of evidence that could convict one of the young men on the mission, he must decide what to do. If he turns the evidence in, he will be a hero in his school, but it may hurt the people he loves in the mission. This decision he cannot even share with his friend, Blessing.

Sahwira is a story of two boys who find friendship more important than the color of their skin or the circumstances of their lives. It is a coming-of-age adventure that can be enjoyed by both teens and adults.