I find your response to Hill’s use of clichés rather interesting. I also found that the characters were cliché, but I’m not sure if I would identify this as a fault of Hill himself, literature as a whole or the lack of accurate, non-sensationalized information about west African villages in the 1700’s prior to the slave trade. Clichés regarding characters like Fanta and Fomba exist because a. they work as tools to progress the story and b. are based in logical situations and reactions. Fanta is not just the no-nonsense housewife, but also a woman who fears her position with her husband will be taken over by an eleven-year-old girl, which would undoubtedly leave Fanta feeling fragile and forced to put on a strong face. The historical accuracies definitely carry the story thus far, but I would disagree that Aminata is uncharacteristically capable. As a woman in a misogynistic society, Aminata has been forced to take on responsibility at times which would be considered premature by modern, western standards. This is the basis for her strength once she reaches the slave ship. We also need to remember that Aminata is narrating this as an old woman and, therefore, is reflecting on life and is unreliable.