Published by The Electronic Book Company
MAMBO LEO (CURRENT AFFAIRS)
A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS
The play takes its title from a Swahili paper which appeared in Arusha, Tanganyika, where I was raised. It is set in East Africa during early 1960’s; the years of transition between the ending of colonial rule and the advent of full independence; when the last metropolitan adviser went home.
It is about the exercise of realpolitik by fictional statesmen in imaginary states. It should, however, be noted that much of the action takes place in a geologically and politically active region along the East African Rift; nowhere else in Africa compares to its potential for physical violence. There is a reality, too, in the text; much of it is based on actual telegrams daily charting the diplomatic prelude to the eruption of war in 1939 within the East European region; nowhere else are political fault lines so likely to slip into movements of mass terror.
In sections dealing with diplomatic history I base my story on events in Europe as recorded in the published Documents on British Foreign Policy, substituting real Europeans by entirely imagined East Africans acting out their fictional roles in countries and cities which today (with the exception of the mythical Tanganyika, featured in my novel, God of Hunger/ Mungu Wa Nja,) still retain their colonial names. Nevertheless, I wish to emphasise that no direct reference to post independent states, statesmen, or capitals should be read into my political fantasies. I have simply written them in the belief that the principles of diplomacy, born in relations between Ancient Greek city states, remain universally applicable.
Purists of the language must excuse my usage of Swahili. It is of the up-country variety. Nevertheless, Mambo Leo is written mainly with a Swahili speaking audience in mind; an audience which not only inhabits a vast swathe of East Africa, but also a diaspora stretching westwards from Beijing to Calgary, via Moscow, London and Toronto; there are now as many Swahilophones in and around London as there were in Arusha, Tanganyika, when the author left for the UK in 1963, first to read and then to teach History at university; it is mainly for an undergraduate audience that the play was written.
About John Coutouvidis
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Published April 25, 2011
by The Electronic Book Company.
Literature & Fiction.