Akli is an old man now. He is in prison. It is from there that he begins telling his story, the story of his village, of his people. He speaks of his struggle against colonial France and against terrorism. This is a tale of revolution, war, torture, dispossession, corruption, intolerance, betrayal, religious extremism but, above all, a tale of resistance.
A tale of inevitability and loss. The loss of faith in a higher power. He doubts everything. Religion, God, power. The loss of those closest to him, the burden of their absence, the regret of not being able to protect them, forged him into a cynic. Akli is a man without hope for a better future, a man who wishes for death. But this is also a story of love. Unconditional, pure love. The ineffable kind which he has for his country, his land, his mountains, his family, his friends, his people. A story of his first love, Martine, daughter to the French settler, Fino, who left him with a lot of frustrations but also good remembrances.
If his story begins in gloom, it is one through which secretly, intimately and ultimately runs the thread of hope. Hope because he is released from prison. Hope that his daughter, Zira, the fruit of his wife’s rape by terrorists, brings back into his life. It is a story about the persistence of beauty, of good and goodness, even in the face of chaos. It is a story about truth. His truth. Eternal even when obscured. No man can be broken badly enough to not feel love, to not see and enjoy beauty. No man can tear the world apart so much that love and beauty no longer exist. Once this truth is accepted, however chaotic or scary the outside world can be, peace can be found. Peace within one’s own being. Peace which Akli finds beside Zira.
Publishers : Langaa Publishing (Africa, Cameroon), African Books Collective (GB, Oxford) Worldwide available. September 2015