Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Wreath for Udomo

Peter Abrahams, A Wreath for Udomo, Faber and Faber, 1956. Abrahams takes the reader to places that few authors could. It is a story about African revolutionaries in the idealistic years after WWII, first in exile in London and later struggling and in power in fictional African countries. It is not a war novel (the account of the jungle is notably naive), rather it deals with the intersection of politics, culture and society. These men are essentially intellectuals, inevitably transformed by their exposure to Europe (and de rigour relations with white women) and some of them are able to connect to populist elements back home, others not. There is the old lion whose time has past, there is the idealist whose character does not pass the severe tests to which it is subjected. It is similar to John Williams's The Man Who Cried I Am in treating with educated, sophisticated characters at a time when most black literature was preoccupied with tribals (in Africa; e.g., Amos Tutuola) and the street (in the USA; e.g., Ishmael Reed).




2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Not a well written novel" is not the best beginning for such a well written novel like "A Wreath for Udomo". A wreath for Udomo is Peter Abraham's master piece, one written with the temper of an impatient African writer, desperate for a solution to the complexity of a too expectant African nation, thinking the declaration of Independence was an automatic garden of eden where there are plentifuls, where there are no greedy Selina's and where there is no need of a white man. Just look at how Peter Abrahams treats the European turned Dr, and how the need to develop Panafrica makes Udomo betray David Mhendi...the love triangle between Mhendi and Maria, and Paul Mabi's realisation at the end of the novel, aren't they all wonderful writings?

David Labeja said...

"Not a well written novel" is not the best beginning for such a well written novel like "A Wreath for Udomo". A wreath for Udomo is Peter Abraham's master piece, one written with the temper of an impatient African writer, desperate for a solution to the complexity of a too expectant African nation, thinking the declaration of Independence was an automatic garden of eden where there are plentifuls, where there are no greedy Selina's and where there is no need of a white man. Just look at how Peter Abrahams treats the European turned Dr, and how the need to develop Panafrica makes Udomo betray David Mhendi...the love triangle between Mhendi and Maria, and Paul Mabi's realisation at the end of the novel, aren't they all wonderful writings?