Stronger than Death: How Annalena Tonelli Defied Terror and Tuberculosis in the Horn of Africa

Stronger than Death: How Annalena Tonelli Defied Terror and Tuberculosis in the Horn of Africa

by Rachel Pieh Jones


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Think Mother Jones meets Mother Teresa, in Mogadishu.

Amid a volatile mix
of disease, war, and religious fundamentalism in the Horn of Africa, what difference could one woman make? Annalena Tonelli left behind career, family, and homeland anyway, moving to a remote Muslim village in northern Kenya to live among its outcasts – desert nomads dying of tuberculosis, history’s deadliest disease.

“I am nobody,” she always insisted. Yet by the time she was killed for her work three decades later she had not only developed an effective cure for tuberculosis among nomadic peoples but also exposed a massacre, established homes and schools for the deaf, advocated against female genital mutilation, and secured treatment for ostracized AIDS patients.

Months after winning the Nansen Refugee Award from the UN in 2003, Annalena Tonelli was assassinated at one of the tuberculosis hospitals she founded. Rachel Pieh Jones, an American writer, was living a few doors down, having moved to Somaliland with her husband and two children just months before. Annalena’s death would alter the course of her life.

No one who encounters Annalena in these pages will leave unchanged. Her confounding, larger-than-life example challenges our assumptions about aid and development, Christian–Muslim relations, and what it means to put one’s faith into practice. Brought vividly back to life through Jones’s meticulous reporting and her own letters, Annalena presents us with a new measure of success and commitment. But she also leaves us a gift: the secret to overcoming the fear that pervades our society and our hearts – fear of disease and death, fear of terrorism and war, fear of others, and fear of failure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874862515
Publisher: Plough Publishing House, The
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,165,924
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Rachel Pieh Jones has written for the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Runners World, and Christianity Today. In 2003 she moved to Somaliland, and since 2004 she has lived in neighboring Djibouti, where she and her husband run a school. She blogs at

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 The Tuberculosis Holy Grail 7

Italy 1943-1969

2 Gandhi and a Prostitute 16

Kenya 1969-1985

3 Desert Paradise 30

4 Thirst 43

5 Infidel 48

6 The Cutting 62

7 The Bismillah Manyatta 73

8 Retreat 90

9 Wagalla 103

Somalia 1986-1994

10 Beledweyne 120

11 Hostage 136

12 Mogadishu 147

13 Merka 164

14 Complex Emergencies 180

Somaliland 1996-2003

15 Borama 202

16 The Nansen Award 219

17 Legacy 237

Epilogue 248

Acknowledgments 258

Notes 261

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