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Feb 22, 2021

Author Namina Forna loved JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis’ books as a child, but saw little that resembled the magic and rich mythology she saw in Africa

When I was a child, I was what you would call a JRR Tolkien fangirl. I read The Lord of the Rings over and over. I traipsed around the countryside, imagining it was Middle-earth. With just a flight of imagination, I could be snug in the Shire, exploring the mines of Moria, or even flitting through the woods of Lothlórien.

When the first Lord of the Rings movie was finally released, I was 14 and so excited to see it. But immediately, I noticed something distressing: no one on screen looked like me. The darkest characters on screen, the orcs, were all male. Even as a monster, it seemed, there was no place for people who looked like me in Tolkien’s world.

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