Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar (ratheesh) wrote,
Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar
ratheesh

Mama Africa

TD Ramakrishnan's latest novel, Mama Africa, is presented as a collection of writings by Thara Vishwanath, a writer from Uganda who was a pen-friend of the author during his college days. Thara's grandfather had migrated from Kerala to Uganda in 1898 when he was hired by the British for construction of railways. He married an African woman and settled in Uganda. Later he participated in various trade union activities, and founded an organization called Uhuru based on communist ideals. Their son and Thara's father, Doctor Panicker, supported Uhuru by developing pamphlets (though Thara later realizes that her father did much more in a secretive way), and was persecuted and murdered by Idi Amin. Thara was kidnapped by the dictator, and she writes about her life before and after the Idi Amin encounters in her autobiographical works named Mama Africa and Karuppinum Veluppinum Idayil, which are included in this book.

Like in his earlier works, TD Ramakrishnan takes a lot of liberty in presenting historical people as characters in his novel - Many of Africa's political leaders and dictators come as characters in this novel. In the style of narration, the book is very similar to Francis Ittykkora and Sugandhi Enna Andal Devanayaki - all of them have a mix of history, fantasy, "constructed" myths, elements of mystery and descriptive sections on exploitation and torture.

The author has been successful in providing a balanced outlook on various aspects, as presented from the perspective of Thara. Her transition to being a "lover" of Idi Amin would surprise us first despite the justifications she gives through her dream interactions with "Mama", though in hindsight we can see that she just matches other female characterizations by the author in his earlier works. Thara later gives some thoughts on validating the egoistic behavior of the dictator with references to the oppressed past of the African people. This approach of "looking at both the sides" is seen while discussing about the involvement of Soviet Union in African Politics as well. Though Mama Africa makes several subtle statements on various social and political aspects of the region, I would prefer to look at it as just a story book, and I enjoyed reading it.
Tags: books
Subscribe

  • Discovering Bengaluru

    Discovering Bengaluru by Meera Iyer is a beautifully designed book that is presented as a walking guide for some of the areas of Bangalore -…

  • Ruins

    Peter Kuper's graphic novel Ruins tells the story of a couple - George and Samantha who are US citizens on a sabbatical to Oaxaca, Mexico for an…

  • Daytripper

    " We should look for moments in life that we will never forget - those that we will carry with us after all others fade -- the ones that will make…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments