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Rosa of the Wild Grass: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family


By Fiona Macintosh (Latin America Bureau & Practical Action Publishing, 2016)

During the 1980s the author became friendly with Rosa, a woman from a peasant family and later returned many times to visit and record her. These stories of three generations are illustrated with beautiful woodcut-style images.

Under the Somoza dictatorship, Rosa’s testimony of life with the Sandinista rebels during the insurrection is wrought with anxiety. Then she shares her optimism for the changes brought by the 1979 revolution – that is until the destruction of the contra War and the electoral defeat of the Sandinista government. Over the subsequent decades Rosa and her family show how those social programmes they fought for were cut, bringing back poverty and social breakdown. Yet throughout, Rosa tells how the ‘seeds of wild grass’ have kept growing: tiny community initiatives that enable families and communities to survive enormous hardship.

Rosa is a superb read, full of the realities of peasant family life, the Catholic Church, magical beliefs, community spirit and cooperatives, the transition from rural to city life and back… and the problems: machismo, drink, violence, petty corruption, money-lenders, and the quest for work by migrating to Costa Rica and the USA.

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