Africa – on no account!
Afrika - auf keinen Fall!
Schkeuditz: GNN Verlag, 1999
(Original paperback edition)
The work of Wolfgang Lange is a collection of stories recounting events which occur in Angola and Mozambique.
At the centre of the story titled "Warriors of King Gungunhane" is the character Godide who tergiversates between tradition and modernism. The story titled "Locomotives or Carts", thematizes the orientation problem that Mozambique has to adopt for its development. In the story "A journey to Inhambane" one reads about the bloody war between FRELIMO and RENAMO to accede to power. "The help of the militia man" unveils the corrupt custom system of Mozambique, meanwhile the story entitled "The heroes" shows how far child exploitation can reach. This prevailing situation of uncertainty in Mozambique does not spare the neighbouring Angola where UNITA and MPLA are tearing themselves apart in an atrocious civil war. It is with this harsh reality that Rolf and Wilfried, East German young men in military service who are working for the World Food Programme, are confronted.
Wolfgang Lange: Afrika - auf keinen Fall!
(Africa – on no account!)
Was Réné Dumont therefore right to say that Africa is in trouble?
Lange's work poses this problematic issue through a German perspective. The presence of armed forces in Mozambique and Angola during the post-colonial period explains, according to the author, the reasons for the backwardness of these two countries. Therefore, Rolf and Wilfried, the young men during the military service and who are working on behalf of the World Food Programme, take the reader through the meanders of a bureaucracy inherited from the old colonial power and remorse intestinal wars between those who want to accede to power and those who want to keep it. In this case, it is between UNITA and MPLA in Angola and between the partisans of FRELIMO and those of RENAMO in Mozambique. These endogenic causes, associated to the exogenic causes constituted of the ex-colonial power, explain according to the author, the difficulties which affect the taking-off of these two nations.
The picture of Africa that appears in Lange's work, therefore is not different from that which is continually broadcasted by western media: it is about warfare Africa, poverty, prostitution and corruption. This infernal Africa is only the result of colonization that has caused more harm than good. If the Africans find it difficult to make a headway, it is because they can’t assimilate the exigencies of a system imposed on them from outside.
Lange's work does not however reduce itself to the pessimistic view of a German. It is rather a question, all things considered, of scrutinizing the possibilities of the rejuvenation of a continent in crisis. For the homeless children of Luanda to create, in the work of Lanse, a group called "the holy family", it is not just questioning the established order inherited from colonization. It also illustrates the hope placed in the young generation which brings new blood into this dynamics of development.