Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
The eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide, Malika Oufkir was adopted by the king at age of five as a companion for his daughter. She spent most of her childhood and adolescence within the gilded walls of the palace, living an extraordinarily privileged yet secluded life.
Her world was shattered on August 16, 1972, when her father was executed for his part in an attempt to assassinate the King. Along with her mother and five siblings, Malika, then nineteen, was imprisoned in a penal colony. The Oufkir family spent the next fifteen years in prison, the last ten in solitary confinement, until they managed to dig a tunnel and escape. Their freedom ended five days later, however, when they were captured and returned to prison. In 1996, after twenty-four years of incarceration, the Oufkir family was finally granted permission to leave Morocco.
In Stolen Lives, Malika recounts her family's story with unflinching and heartrending honesty. She recalls their day-to-day struggle for survival in harsh conditions, being watched around the clock by prison guards, and communicating with her family solely through prison walls for more than a decade. She tells of raising her brothers and sisters, teaching them good manners and attempting to provide them with some semblance of a normal life. They celebrated Christmas and birthdays, saving up rations to make cakes and fashioning toys out of cardboard. Through it all, Malika managed to draw upon her sense of humor, which, she says, "allowed us to survive even-and most of all-at the worst moments."
In the Preface to Stolen Lives, co-author Michle Fitoussi recalls that, upon first meeting Malika, she asked herself, "How can anyone appear normal after such suffering? How can they live, laugh, love, how can they go on when they lost the best years of their life as a result of injustice?" The answers are found in this poignant and inspiring account of a family who endured with courage, determination, and dignity the cruel and unjust circumstances fate had in store for them.