April 27, 2013

Take Me Away....to Congo



Take Me Away Saturday

Take Me Away showcases fiction, nonfiction, and children's books that take place in a specific country and/or within a specific culture.  Take a trip in books!  Look for where we are going next and places we've traveled at the bottom of the post.


This week we are visiting the African countries of Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as this had the most votes in the poll.  The reason I am including both countries together is because they were once the same country until the Congo Crisis in the 1960s.

Click here to learn more about these countries here and here.


Here is a map with the Republic of Congo in medium brown to the left of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the large central country in yellow.

Famous Congolese:


Dikembe Mutombo
(former Houston Rockets center and current humanitarian)



Barly Baruti
(author, artist, and musician)


Now here are some books about this culture, organized into a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and children's books. *Note I am not an affiliate anywhere.

(P.S. There is a list of  the countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts at the bottom of this post. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!)


FICTION SELECTIONS:

Heart of Darkness


Dark allegory describes the narrator’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad’s finest, most enigmatic story.


The Poisonwood Bible


The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.


Congo


Deep in the African rain forest, near the legendary ruins of the Lost City of Zinj, an expedition of eight American geologists is mysteriously and brutally killed in a matter of minutes.

Ten thousand miles away, Karen Ross, the Congo Project Supervisor, watches a gruesome video transmission of the aftermath: a camp destroyed, tents crushed and torn, equipment scattered in the mud alongside dead bodies -- all motionless except for one moving image -- a grainy, dark, man-shaped blur.

In San Francisco, primatologist Peter Elliot works with Amy, a gorilla with an extraordinary vocabulary of 620 "signs," the most ever learned by a primate, and she likes to fingerpaint. But recently, her behavior has been erratic and her drawings match, with stunning accuracy, the brittle pages of a Portuguese print dating back to 1642 . . . a drawing of an ancient lost city. A new expedition -- along with Amy -- is sent into the Congo where they enter a secret world, and the only way out may be through a horrifying death . . .

Congo Dawn


Absolute power breeds absolute corruption. While former Marine lieutenant Robin Duncan is no stranger to corruption or conspiracy, she has always been able to tell the good guys from the bad. At first, her current assignment is no different: working on behalf of an international corporation to secure a valuable Congo mining region from the attacks of an insurgent killer. But as her security team tries to track down their target, Robin has to face a man who broke her trust years ago, and she discovers the gray areas extend further in this jungle wilderness than she anticipated. A ruthless global conspiracy begins to surface, run by powerful men who can’t afford to leave any witnesses. Her life at stake, Robin doesn’t know whom to trust and wonders how she can help protect the Congolese people. Why is God silent amid all the pain and injustice? And how do these people of faith continue to rejoice in their suffering?

Conspiracy Game (GhostWalkers, #4)



GhostWalker Jack Norton is a genetically enhanced telepathic sniper on a mission to rescue his brother in the jungles of the Congo. Then he meets Briony, a beautiful rebel on a mission of her own - and hiding secrets that a shadowy enemy would kill to discover.


The Witch Doctor's Wife (Amanda Brown #1)


From beloved mystery writer Tamar Myers comes an enthralling tale of duty, greed, danger, and miracles in equatorial Africa.

The Congo beckons to young Amanda Brown in 1958, as she follows her missionary calling to the mysterious "dark continent" far from her South Carolina home. But her enthusiasm cannot cushion her from the shock of a very foreign culture--where competing missionaries are as plentiful as flies, and oppressive European overlords are busy stripping the land of its most valuable resource: diamonds.

Little by little, Amanda is drawn into the lives of the villagers in tiny Belle Vue--and she is touched by the plight of the local witch doctor, a man known as Their Death, who has been forced to take a second job as a yardman to support his two wives. But when First Wife stumbles upon an impossibly enormous uncut gem, events are set in motion that threaten to devastate the lives of these people Amanda has come to admire and love--events that could lead to nothing less than murder.

Richly evocative, written with warmth and humor, and based on the author's own experiences, Tamar Myers's The Witch Doctor's Wife is an unforgettable African journey with a spellbinding mystery at its heart.



NONFICTION SELECTIONS:


Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and
the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns

At the heart of Africa is Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, bordering nine other nations, that since 1996 has been wracked by a brutal and unstaunchable war in which millions have died. And yet, despite its epic proportions, it has received little sustained media attention. In this deeply reported book, Jason Stearns vividly tells the story of this misunderstood conflict through the experiences of those who engineered and perpetrated it. He depicts village pastors who survived massacres, the child soldier assassin of President Kabila, a female Hutu activist who relives the hunting and methodical extermination of fellow refugees, and key architects of the war that became as great a disaster as--and was a direct consequence of--the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Through their stories, he tries to understand why such mass violence made sense, and why stability has been so elusive.Through their voices, and an astonishing wealth of knowledge and research, Stearns chronicles the political, social, and moral decay of the Congolese State. 


King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa
by Adam Hochschild

In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust. Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold II. With great power and compassion, King Leopold's Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo--too long forgotten--onto the conscience of the West.


The Forest People (Touchstone Book)

The Forest People by Colin Turnbull

The Forest People -- Colin M. Turnbull's best-selling, classic work -- describes the author's experiences while living with the BaMbuti Pygmies, not as a clinical observer, but as their friend learning their customs and sharing their daily life.
Turnbull conveys the lives and feelings of the BaMbuti whose existence centers on their intense love for their forest world, which, in return for their affection and trust, provides their every need. We witness their hunting parties and nomadic camps; their love affairs and ancient ceremonies -- the molimo, in which they praise the forest as provider, protector, and deity; the elima, in which the young girls come of age; and the nkumbicircumcision rites, in which the villagers of the surrounding non-Pygmy tribes attempt to impose their culture on the Pygmies, whose forest home they dare not enter.
The Forest People eloquently shows us a people who have found in the forest something that makes their life more than just living -- a life that, with all its hardships and problems and tragedies, is a wonderful thing of happiness and joy.

Endangered


The compelling tale of a girl who must save a group of bonobos--and herself--from a violent coup.

The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.

When one girl has to follow her mother to her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and she'd rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

Eliot Schrefer asks readers what safety means, how one sacrifices to help others, and what it means to be human in this new compelling adventure.




While poring over dust-caked pamphlets in the library, Ben Rawlence stumbles upon the photo of a lost city of colonial Congo--a glistening, modern metropolis built by huge tin mines and European capitalists. Today, that city, Manono, sits beyond the infamous “Triangle of Death,” in an area rarely reached by outsiders since war turned the country’s rivers to blood.

In this compelling debut, Rawlence sets out to gather the news from this ghost town in one of the most dangerous places in the world. Ignoring the advice of locals, reporters, and mercenaries, he travels by foot, motorbike, and canoe, taking his time and meeting the people who are rebuilding their homes with hope, faith, and nervous instinct. We meet Benjamin, the kindly father of the most terrifying Mai Mai warlord; Leya, who happily gives up a good job in Zambia to return to her razed town; Colonel Ibrahim, a guerrilla turned army officer; the Lebanese cousins Mohammed and Mohammed, who oversee the remains of Manono’s great mine; the priest Jean-Baptiste, who explains the conjoined prices of beer and normality; and the talk-show host Mama Christine, who dispenses counsel and courage in equal measure.

From the “blood cheese” of Goma to the decaying city of Manono, Rawlence shares the real story of Congo during and after the war, and finds not just a lost city but the seeds of a peaceful future.



CHILDREN'S BOOKS:



Democratic Republic of Congo (Cultures of the World #17) by Jay Heale

Describes the geography, history, government, economy, people, lifestyle, religion, languages, arts, leisure, festivals, and food of the third largest country in Africa, a former colony of Belgium.


The Magic Flyswatter: A Superhero Tale of Africa, Retold from the Mwindo Epic

The Magic Flyswatter: A Superhero Tale of Africa, Retold from the
Mwindo Epic by Aaron Shepard


The storyteller stands beside the fire, swaying, dancing, miming, singing, reciting. With one hand he shakes a gourd rattle, with the other he swings a conga -- a flyswatter made with a buffalo tail on a wooden handle. Anklet bells tinkle as he moves. Three young men beat a wooden drum with sticks. 
Listening to him is a crowd of men, women, and children. They sing along at a song's refrain, they repeat whole lines of the story when he pauses to see if they're paying attention. They encourage him with little shouts, whoops, claps. Food and drink are passed around. 
In a mountain rainforest of the Congo, a Nyanga village hears once more the tale of its favorite hero -- Mwindo, the one born walking, the one born talking . . . 




Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes

Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes
by Chantal Grosleziat

Representing 11 languages originating from Central and West Africa and brought to life with lavish illustrations, this collection's rhymes and lullabies soothe babies to sleep as the songs travel from one country and one language to another. Lyrics are reproduced in the original language and translated into English, followed by notes on the origin and cultural context of each song. The accompanying CD features 29 songs from 10 countries—including Rwanda, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal—each one unique in language and sound, recorded with indigenous instruments and exquisitely performed by women, men, and children. This delightful, enchanting production captures the staccato rhythm of the children's rhymes and the poetry of the language as well as a sense of the heritage and tradition of each culture.



This is, of course, just a sampling of books on Congo and Congolese life for you to read. Do you want to recommend/share books that feature Congo? Or do you want to share other thoughts?  Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for our next trip in books! :)

Where do you want to go next?





Where we've been so far in our literary travels so far, check them out:



Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Fiji
    

4 comments:

  1. Hi, I stopped by because I'm a Readathon cheerleader. I hope you're having a great time. Your "Take Me Away Saturday" is excellent. What a wonderful concept. I live in South Korea, and I hope you'd consider featuring that country. Their dysfunctional neighbor, North Korea, would also be good...well, interesting, anyway!

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    1. Definitely! I hope to get to all of them.

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  2. I think that Endangered by Eliot Schrefer actually looks like a good read. I hope to one day travel the world and spread awareness about endangered animals and why conservation efforts are important. Bonobos are actually very fascinating and the most docile of all the great apes. I'll add that to my TBR pile this summer! Thanks!

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    1. I would LOVE to do that, too, Kaitlyn! I have always had a dream of working for the Jane Goodall Institute. I am glad you found something that interested you from the list!!!

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