Heart Of Darkness
I vividly remember Dr. Richard McDaniel’s second-year English class at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. We were studying the classic “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.
I loved that book, and it fascinated me to no end. The basic theory blew me away: that we all have a more primitive, atavistic nature hard-wired into our DNA that can be brought to the fore by the right conditions. Otherwise civilized men and women can basically be forced, by their inner primitive genetic remnants, to return to these more base states, as happened to the principal character, Kurtz, in the book when immersed in the jungle of the Congo.
As many know, this basic thesis was adapted into popular movies such as The Lord of the Flies and Apocalypse Now – who can forget the classic scene where Robert Duvall, as Lieutenant General Bill Kilgore says inspirationally, with a pleased and smug look on his face, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning!… It smells like…victory.”
The utterance of those words, as American planes were flash-burning vegetation and people with napalm, was the most memorable line from the movie, and represented the most poignant illustration of Kilgore’s descent into his own atavistic past.
Africa is the birthplace of humanity, yet somehow, she is still wild, and in fact, in the deepest jungle and the vastest deserts, it remains more primitive.
Is there something about Africa that is untamable and brings out atavistic behavior?
I also loved very much and read with interest every novel ever written by Zambian-born South African novelist Wilbur Smith. His sub-Saharan African-based historical fiction novels have sold over 140 million copies worldwide.
I’d like to think that my style, as well as my subject manner, is similar to his, but that’s really only a dream and a wish. I want my books to captivate my readers’ attention much in the same way that his captured mine.
Yes, I want you to curse me in the morning when you wake up with my book’s imprint on your face, having been too engaged to sleep while you read for hours, finally succumbing to sheer exhaustion as you fumble for a coffee pod.
African Historical Fiction
Historical fiction has always intrigued me and is my own personal favorite genre. And then Dead Aid, written by Zambian-born Ph.D. Dambisa Moyo (now Baroness Dambisa Moyo, having recently been appointed to the British House of Lords), blew my mind.
Moyo’s book was published in 2009, and it postulated that Africa had to be cut off from international aid. “A constant stream of ‘free’ money is a perfect way to keep an inefficient or simply bad government in power,” she said. Further, she believed that proper political and economic reforms that allowed sub-Saharan Africa to stand on her own two feet would never be implemented if countries could count on western disaster and relief aid every time there was a crisis.
I thought her theories were amazing. Cut hundreds of millions of people off from all aid, including humanitarian relief? It was mind-boggling, and I immediately saw the parallels to the state of affairs with Canada’s own first nations people. (More on that in a subsequent blog.)
Moyo’s book made me think, “what if I could incorporate her theories into a historical fiction story that was broadly distributed and helped people to understand sub-Saharan Africa better?”
Those Who Would Be King: The People’s Prince
Yes, Those Who Would Be King: The People’s Prince, is fiction. It is historically based, but nevertheless, it is fiction. It is meant to be an engaging, fast-paced, exciting read that grips you from the opening line.
I truly hope it achieves its objectives because if it does, it will hopefully impart some very high-level theories and concepts about the route forward for sub-Saharan Africa. Oh, I recognize that there are many very detailed scholarly research papers and publications on the subject matters I only lightly touch, but my guess is that few people have the time or the inclination to do a deep dive and dig into them.
I now have many new friends from my recent research trip there who took time out of their busy lives to take me around and show me their country to help me to understand its sociopolitical and economic environment. They believe in their people’s ability to effect change, and in the real power of this book to help.
I hope to not disappoint them.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you. Let’s connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram; or my newsletter here.
Those Who Would Be King: The People’s Prince is available to order now!