Monday, November 2, 2009
THE MISSION SONG
Details: Reading Group read for November
A story about Africa, although mainly set in England.
A story about corruption and abuse of power.
And a story about innocence and naivety and the high price you may have to pay for trying to do the right thing.
This is the story of Bruno Salvador, Salvo to his friends and enemies, a 29 year old orphaned son of an Irish missionary and a Congolese headman's daughter.
Having been raised both in the Congolese province of Kivu and in England and with a good head and ear for languages he grows up to become an interpreter in minority African languages. This specialism means that he works freelance for the British Secret Service.
It's is through these languages that he meets Hannah, a nurse from Kivu working in England, who opens his eyes to his faulty marriage to white and upper class Penelope, and with whom he spends a night of passion.
It's also because of his language skills that he is whisked away to a secret location in the North Sea where he is to interpret a secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords.
What at first appears to be an attempt to secure a safe and prosperous future for Kivu, soon turns out to be a farce with only one objective; to enrich the Westerners.
The actions Salvo takes upon discovering the risks to the land Hannah and he love, will change both their lives for ever, put them in danger and open their eyes to the realities of the world; Where nobody is ever as good or as honest as they seem and the interests of a small African province fade to nothing when up against Western economical and financial interests.
This book was beautifully written and a fascinating read. My only qualms with the story were that maybe Salvo was a bit too naive and trusting to be realistic. Does any 29 year old, living in England really know so little about how devious people can be, especially if he has been married to a tabloid journalist?
Coincidentally I came across a picture taken in Kivu in this weeks Sunday Times Magazine, which shows that the situation there is at least as bad as described in the book. I have torn the picture out and will keep it for the group discussion. A discussion I expect to be interesting.