Reading of the week: "The African equation" by Yasmina KHADRA

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As a result of'Such a long letter, the reading of the week takes us for this issue in a complex Africa. The author takes us on a journey from Germany to the shores of the Sudanese coast and immerses us in the married life of his main character Kurt. A crossing full of twists and turns and filled with discovery and lessons. Take flight to discover a preview of our favorite, “The African Equation” by Yasmina Khadra published in 2011 by Julliard editions. Are you ready ? Let's go!

Reading of the week: Front cover of "The African equation"
Reading of the week: Front cover of "The African equation"

Reading of the week: Yasmina Khadra in the spotlight

Reading of the week: Yasmina KHADRA in the spotlight
Reading of the week: Yasmina KHADRA in the spotlight

The author of the week signs his works under his assumed name Yasmina Khadra, two first names of his wife. His real name is Mohammed Moulessehoul, he is an Algerian writer born in 1955 in the Algerian Sahara. A former officer in the Algerian army, he is recognized worldwide for his trilogy Les Hirondelles de Kaboul, L'Attentat et les Sirènes de Bagdad. His pen analyzes the identity contrasts and crosses between the West, the East and Africa. Find out here the complete bibliography of the author in the spotlight in this new issue of the reading of the week.

Reading of the week in brief 

An expedition to disillusion

Kurt is a doctor who has his quiet little bourgeois life and his daily lot. One evening, back from work, he discovers his wife's lifeless body in the bathroom. Destroyed and deprived of the being he loved the most, he lost himself in mourning. To help him raise the bar, his friend Hans (who has also lost his wife) offers to accompany him to the Comoros for humanitarian aid aboard his boat.

He thus begins his therapy but fate decided otherwise. One evening like any other, pirates attacked their boat, took Hans and him prisoners and threw their cook into the sea.

Kurt is violently pulled out of his comfort zone and faces the 'supposedly true face of Africa'. He had to start a new way of life. Prisoner in a foreign country, he meets three characters who will make him see things differently.

Joma, Chaolo and Bruno: 3 typical faces in Africa

He and his friend find themselves tossed between several prisons. They recognize the harshness of their life which is no more than that of a fly. Joma, one of the kidnappers, abhors Western foreigners who hold them responsible for the violence and poverty in Africa. For him, capturing these foreigners is revenge and avenge his country. On the other hand, the other kidnappers think they will recover the money.

Kurt had to adjust. A few days after their arrest, they are taken to the camp, a desert of sand as far as the eye can see that dispels any desire to flee. They meet Bruno, a Frenchman taken prisoner like them. Bruno tells him about his forty years of experiences in Africa and tries to make him see the beauty of Africa hidden behind the curtain of violence and death.

They are taken by car by Joma and Chaolo. After hours of driving, Chaolo against all odds asks Joma to release the prisoners. No longer understanding the purpose of all this violence, he tries to make Joma understand that they are not responsible for "his woes". Joma's reaction resulted in both Chaolo's death and his own.

Desolation and hope: the African paradox between two existential poles

Left to their own devices in the desert, Kurt and Bruno hit the road again. They meet a convoy of people in difficulty escorted by volunteers from the Red Cross. On the road to the Red Cross camp, Kurt analyzes the situation of all these people in yet another discussion with Bruno. This one tries to make him see the good side of things.

Where Kurt (and the West as a whole) sees famine and desolation:

“This continent has a serious problem of non-governance (…), I only see exoduses, raids, rapes and homelessness of a people without gods or merits, handed over to thieves and genocidal tyrants, and that is worse than death ” ;

Bruno (a true connoisseur with an African heart) sees hope:

 “The African knows that his life is his precious possession. The sorrow, the joys, the disease are only pedagogy. The African takes things as they come without giving them more opportunity than they deserve (...), his wisdom deadens his disappointments. "

Love triumphs and her heart fell in love with Africa

Despite this heated exchange, Kurt over time begins to change his outlook on things beyond all the drama that surrounds him. He meets love without recognizing it and begins a romance with Elena, a volunteer of the Red Cross. Back home with Hans' lifeless body shot in an ambush, he is unable to turn the page or find his place in his community.

After reading the email sent by Elena, he realizes that she is the key to his recovery. He remembered the words of the warrior-marabout:

" Why are you sad? You should not. Only the dead are sad not to be able to get up ”;

 And Bruno's:

Whoever sees Africa only once in his life will die one-eyed ".

He declared:

“And I am alive. I breathe, I get moved, I react, I dream (…), I am in heaven. No I will not die one-eyed. And I will know how to share to reach maturity ”.

He returned to Darfur as a Red Cross volunteer, leaving behind his life as a bourgeois. Kurt finally found his way in an Africa he painted black and which made him mature. He will remember these lines from Joma:

“Live each morning as if it were the first and leave to the past its remorse and misdeeds.

Live every night as if it were the last because no one knows what tomorrow will bring ”.

Reading of the week: a book to savor

In this rainy season, keep warm. Let yourself warm up on the edge of Kurt's ship. You might recognize yourself in one of his adventure companions. From now on, it is up to you not to remain one-eyed on African realities. Whether you are from here or elsewhere, the African equation with multiple facets and unknowns calls out to you. Until next time in another issue of Reading of the week.

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A trained mechanic, Yabo TODEDJRAPOU never stays far from her greatest passion, reading. Devourer of various books, she invites you to share her readings and other articles every Tuesday.

1 Comment

  1. Djètovi
    21 July 2020

    I liked the article. It transcribes the realities we live in Africa. There is the violent and poor Africa that the media especially in the West sell, and the beautiful Africa, strong with exceptional peoples and full of hope. I will read The African Equation. Thank you so much.


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