Friday, July 7, 2017

BURKINA FASO






READ




Even before the start of The Parachute Drop, we learn the sad fate of the author, Norbert Zongo, former publisher and editor of the Burkina Faso newspaper L'Ind√©pendant. In the author’s preface, the reader is told that Zongo was beaten and imprisoned for his political writings. In the translator’s preface, we find out that Zongo was later killed in a car bombing, ostensibly by allies of Burkina Faso’s president at the time, Blaise Campaor√©.

 The Parachute Drop is a novel about a fictional African country, Watinbow, described as a place "...where spirit is measured strictly for its cash value." Watinbow is led by the corrupt President Gouama, who has risen to power with the help of a European country whose leaders want someone in charge whom they can control. Gouama’s main interests as president are to amass great personal wealth, ensure that people (especially women and girls) are always at hand to do his bidding, and destroy anyone whom he perceives as a threat to his power.

Early in the novel, Gouama is told of a plot by two high-ranking military officers to stage a coup and wrest control of the government from him. He and his advisors devise a plan to do away with the ringleaders of the coup by having them participate in a ceremonial parachute drop during the president’s visit to the northern part of the country. The parachutes are rigged so they won’t open, and the two ringleaders plunge to their deaths.

The coup proceeds nevertheless, but the president evades capture.  The rest of the book tracks his actions as he tries to figure out how to regain power.

Gouama’s corruption and other moral failings are highlighted throughout the book, in contrast to the political idealism voiced by some of the students he meets along the way. Rather than using his power for personal enrichment and for satisfying his depraved desires, he is told that “…if you presume to guide the destiny of others, you must be willing to sacrifice your own destiny, your own personal desires.” According to the students, “There is no real happiness for anyone unless there is happiness for everyone, for all of the people.”

While the country and characters depicted in The Parachute Drop may have been fictional, the corruption and political failings described in the book are all too real in countries the world over. It is both a cautionary tale and a sad commentary on those who allow power to ignite their baser instincts.

COOK

Many of the foods mentioned in The Parachute Drop sounded so bland I couldn't imagine making them for this blog. Millet porridge, plain couscous, corn mush -- where's the fun in any of that? So I started searching the Internet for other recipes from Burkina Faso and found several references to peanut soup, which sounded really good. The recipe I chose was from a blog called "A Planetary Potluck," and no changes were required to make the dish vegan.

It was a little spicy for a hot summer day, but if you don't like a lot of spice, you can always put in less cayenne. I loved this soup, and I look forward to making it again during the fall and winter.


GIVE

The GlobalGiving website lists several projects in the western African country of Burkina Faso. As someone who is passionate about books and reading, however, I was especially drawn to the Friends of African Village Libraries and their project to develop a mobile library, a tricycle motorbike with a wagon on the back that would take books to about a thousand people in twelve rural villages. Books in Burkina Faso are expensive and libraries are rare, so the hope is that by taking books to the people, the Friends of the African Village Libraries will be “empowering them and helping them develop and reinforce the habits of reading and critical thinking.”




  
NEXT STOP: BURUNDI

empowering them and helping them develop and reinforce the habits of reading and critical thinking.

2 comments:

  1. The soup was delish and I just donated for the books!

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the soup, Janet, and how kind of you to make a donation for the books! I think that may have been my favorite project yet.

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