Page 156. " The village is due to be planted in rubber trees "

The planting of rubber trees is still a controversial topic in Africa, it destroys farmland and hunting land. One woman's story can be read here. Pro-planters claim the companies provide safe drinking water and education to the local populace.

Watch a video on rubber tree plantations

Page 160. " My daddy lynch "

Lynching is an extrajudicial punishment (usually a hanging), to intimidate and control a people. Violence in the American south against African-Americans rose in the aftermath of the Civil War. Unbelivably, mobs often took photographs of the lynchings and sold them as postcards.  James Allen has published a collection and established a forum on Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (Warning: the images are graphic and disturbing).

Page 170. " Although the one ritual they do have to celebrate womanhood is so bloody and painful "

Nettie is referring in her letter to female genital mutilation. Also called female circumcision, it involves the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia.