Author: Mongo Beti
Title: The Story of the Madman
Publication Info: Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, c2001.
Summary/Review: A familiar story of post-colonial Africa where a newly independent nation suffers tyrannical and wasteful governments, the nation is divided by civil war, and the former colonial power lurks in the shadows looking to profit. Mongo Beti examines a fictional nation similar to Cameroon in this satirical tale. The heart of the story of Chief Zoaételeu the patriarch of a large tribal family who speaks his mind to readily before government soldiers and is arrested and put on display in a show trial. Other characters include his conniving favorite sons and a lawyer who often bursts out in Latin and considers himself a speaker of truth who like Cassandra can’t be believed. Since the characters serve a satirical purpose they often seem more like caricatures and it’s hard to develop a true sympathy to them. In fact, a lot of the time the satire seems laid on too thick to make this an illuminating or entertaining novel.
Recommended books: Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel by Maaza Mengiste and Snakepit by Moses Isegawa