Mathematics in the Congo
Number of pages
*** Winner of the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Afrique Noire 2009***
When Celio is orphaned, he discovers in his father’s belongings an old math textbook. He delves in, teaching himself and turning to the book as some would to the bible, trusting that it will help him find a way out of the slums of Kinshasa in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo. It turns out that he has a genius for math, and soon people come to him as they would to a fortune-teller, seeking a mathematical formula to solve their life’s problems. His prowess is eventually discovered by Tshilombo, a high-ranking government official, who offers him a job at the Bureau of Information and Planning. The official hopes that Celio’s mathematical formulas will uncover a way to improve the unpopular government’s ratings.
In short order, Celio receives a luxurious new apartment and newfound prestige. However, the human costs of this comfortable existence become clear to him when he discovers that he is working for the same people who are responsible for the disappearance and death of his friends. When Celio is called on to use his talent to orchestrate a fake coup d’état that will not only will ruin the opposition but will also deceive his countrymen, he draws the line. This time Celio will use his math skills to outsmart the government, rather than be blindly bought.
A literary political thriller, Mathématiques Congolaises offers a vivid portrait of the struggle for justice in contemporary Congo.
In Koli Bofane : In Koli Jean Bofane was born in 1954 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His previous books include Pourquoi le lion n’est plus le roi des animaux (Gallimard Jeunesse, 1996), among others.