Co-Wives, Co-Widows

 Co-Wives, Co-Widows, by Adrienne Yabouza

This short novel, originally written in French with some Sango, is the first from the Central African Republic to be translated into English.  It's set in Bangui, the capital and largest city of the CAR.

Lidou is doing pretty well for himself.  At 49, his building business is going well, he's got two lovely wives and several children, he is respected -- life is good.  He's a little worried about his vitality, though, so he gets some stuff from his cousin Zouaboua.

A few days later, Lidou is dead.  His wives, Ndongo Passy and Grekpoubou, are stricken, but there's no time to mourn; Zouaboua has accused them of witchcraft and murder.  The neighborhood is with them, but bribes are all Zouaboua needs to get the law on his side.  In their mutual trouble, Ndongo Passy and Grekpoubou draw closer together and find that their sisterhood is their best help.  As they support each other and refuse to betray each other, they find their strength.

This is a very short novel, highly readable -- a good choice for anyone looking to dip a toe into African literature.  I found it difficult going, just because as the story unfolded, I was anticipating disaster, and I didn't want to get there.  I won't give you any spoilers, but, (as the back blurb has it) it's "full of dry wit and local colour, set against a backdrop of political instability."


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