"Yaka" gives a panoramic view of the events that shaped Angola from 1890 through the next century as reflected in the life of the Semedo family. From the nineteenth century penal colony, through slavery, African uprisings, and land expropriation, "Yaka" charts the formation of a nation. Alexandre Semedo's father, convicted of murder, is transported from Portugal to Angola at the turn of the century. As time passes, the Semedo family becomes increasingly intertwined with Black Angola. Alexandre begins to see why the enigmatic Yaka statue, which he inherited from his father, is a symbol for his country.