Shadows of Your Black Memory by Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo from Spain

Spanish Guinea
Cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity.  That is what your going find in the novel Shadows of Your Black Memory by Spain-based Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo from Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is a country in Central Africa, which was colonialised by Spain, from 1778 to 1968, under the name Spanish Guinea.

Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo (born 1950 in Neifang, Spanish Guinea) is a writer/journalist and part of a movement of young Afro-descended authors who have contributed their African experience and traditions to Hispanic culture.  He wrote the novel (orginal title) 'Las  tinieblas  de  tu  memoria  negra' in 1987.

The novel is set during the last years of Spanish rule in Equatorial Guinea, Shadows of Your Black Memory presents the voice of a young African man reflecting on his childhood. Through the idealistic eyes of the nameless protagonist, Donato Ndongo portrays the cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity. The backdrop of a nation moving toward a troubled independence parallels the young man’s internal struggle to define his own identity.

 "The boy's struggle to harness the competing visions of cultural and religious superiority that haunt his subconscious is beautifully reflected in Father Ortiz's determination to convert Tio Abeso to Catholicism. A fascinating intellectual joust ensues, in which provocative and contemporary social tensions clash head on," writes The Independent.

Words without borders writes:" Though the unnamed boy, whose story is narrated by his adult self, feels a vocation to the Catholic priesthood, he is also alive to the power of traditional ceremonies. His circumcision, at about six years old, is dramatically told, as is a later ceremony (at age thirteen) in which his head is anointed with the blood of a toucan.
 You were happy, remember it, and the breeze began to dry the blood on your body, and the clots stuck to your hair and skin, making them feel extraordinarily heavy, and you learned to endure it all, not like them, and your eyes looked without seeing at the ecstasy-filled eyes of Tío Abeso who was receiving the inspiration of the four branches of the gigantic ekuk pointing toward the four directions. And as the morning became brighter, as the light won over the darkness, as it had always been and would continue to be, as illusion won over tedium, you were thinking of all those wonders, and despite your brief thirteen years, you were convinced that although you would one day cross the ocean and go beyond, you would always have the spirit of the tribe within you, the blood of the tribe, you would always hear the tribe whispering to you. "

This book is definitly a classic.


 A conversation Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo