on 16 May 2013
Brilliant book, very readable, funny, and full of fascinating detail. The mystery of the plane crash in which Samora died is illuminatingly explored. Through its A-Z of chapters, the book weaves together issues, themes and personalities of Mozambique's past, revolution, culture, politics and economy, making it far more than the biography of one man. It does nonetheless offer a sympathetic portrayal of the 'whole' Samora: his life and loves, what drove him, the contradictions in his own relationships and in his reactions to the post-war realities. All this is done with a lightness of touch, and in a direct and engaging way, so the end result is a satisfying and entertaining narrative. Written in a personal, anecdotal style, mixed with the author's own (highly amusing) recollections of working in Mozambique in the late seventies, and of her recent travels in Mozambique researching for the book, it has you laughing and weeping in turns - highly recommended!
on 16 May 2013
This beautifully written book tells the story of a recent period in African history by painting a vivid and appealing picture of one of its most fascinating figures, Samora Machel of Mozambique. Rather than plodding through a chronological account, author Sarah LeFanu has chosen a "lexical" structure to trace Samora's rise to power, his struggles with government, and his tragic and mysterious death. She arranges the information in gripping little alphabetical segments, weaving factual accounts of events with her own personal experiences, both as an idealistic young "cooperante" in the 1970s who went to Mozambique to support the post-revolutionary government, and many years later, when she twice revisited the country to do research for this book. It's a fantastic read -- serious, informative, fair-minded, and, best of all, accessible even to those who might have trouble finding Mozambique on a map. I can't recommend it highly enough.