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Flame of Anger: A Novel of Africa in Ferment

Book by Ewe Clark

Reviewed by Arie Nobel

 

There are many good things about this novel and one of the chief points is that the author is well acquainted with Africa, its people, the nature of these people, their environment, their customs, habits, worship, the political movements, and even the land. Then again, he has tremendous ability in drawing word pictures both of the land and of the character of the people which he writes about. This all leads to very vivid impressions on the part of the reader. And further, the book is very readable and the narrative flows fast enough so that the reader does not get sick of it.

The main character is a young woman by the name of Clieptumi who in her youth is a rebel by character. Tin’s young woman eventually leaves her tribe to seek her lover (from another tribe, which is prohibited by the old customs) and in so doing she makes a journey on foot across the desert of Kenya or East Africa. This journey is revealing of Cheptumi’s character and inner motives. But 1 think that it is here also that the author begins to draw an unreal character (at least to staid materialistic American standards).

The merit of this book is the very discerning portrayal of one of those characters, who against all opposition goes against; all things taught to him or her. The fruit of such rebellion is shown with the ambivalence between the old way and the new. In this case it is very aptly drawn in the subjective workings of Cheptumi between the witchcraft of Africa and the Christian religion. The tiling which is wrong here is the improper drawing of a picture of Cheptumi “surrendering herself to the Lord,” yet it is here, especially in the background of African witchcraft, that it would be nice to see such a portrayal along Reformed lines. How, for instance, God in His providence breaks the heart of the sinner, only to draw him again in irresistible grace. This would have been a tremendous book if that had been done because the author has great insight into the nature of man and this could have been elaborated considerably.

One of the things which impressed me also wars the adequate trouncing the author gives to the mainstream of African modern life which is spending itself in the pursuit of “the here and now. the concentration of all effort into making a nice world” and with this movement the rejection of a hope which looks toward the renewal of all things.

With these things in mind we recommend this book even with its basic flaw. And further this is an adult novel.