Magazine article New Internationalist

Yaka

Magazine article New Internationalist

Yaka

Article excerpt

YAKA IS A SAGA of tremendous scope, an Angolan War and Peace of sorts. It charts the destiny of the nation through the fortunes of its central character Alexandre Semedo, a child of Portuguese settlers, born under a tree in 1890. By its closing pages it is 1975 and the end of colonial domination.

In between Semedo founds a clan and through stories of his children and grandchildren, the tale of Angola's long battle for independence is told. Semedo is the perfect protagonist - ineffectual, doubting, knowing what's right, doing what's expedient.

The novel manages to get under the skin of the white settlers - a community of exconvicts, political exiles and others not exactly welcome in the 'home' country of Portugal - united by their fear of blacks and their own rapacious greed. Semedo's family, like any large family, is riven by clashing ambitions and thwarted desires, and Alexandre watches as it is pulled apart. …

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