Boekverslag: A Good Man in Africa
2 Notes on the author, his life, his works and time:
William Boyd was born in Ghana. He studied at the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. After the success of the book “A good man in Africa,” he combined his writing-career with a teaching-job at Oxford. Boyd knows exactly what he’s talking about in his book “A good man in Africa,” because he was born in Ghana. Impressive about his books is his special kind of humour and his critical attitude towards Britain’s colonial past in West Africa. Other books written by William Boyd are “On the Yankee Station,” which was published in 1981 and “Stars and Bars”, which was published in 1984 and “School Ties,” which was published in 1985 and the last book he wrote for so far is “Brazzaville Beach,” which was published in 1990.
3 Title: A Good Man in Africa.
4 Published by: Wolters-Noordhoff B.V. Groningen
Date of publication: 1992
Number of pages: 293 paperback
Part of a series of matching novels no
6 Structure of the work:
a division into: acts and parts
-Social setting: The main character called Mr. Morgan Leafy is a Brit and lives in the former British colony Kinjanja in Africa. He has a particularly high status, because he is the first Secretary in the British Deputy High Commission. Morgan spends his time mostly in the British, white, area of the capital. He lives there on his own with his black servants and he also has a secret black girlfriend. This must be kept secret, because of the social differences between black and white in Africa.
-Geographical setting: The story takes place in the capital Nkongsamba in the country Kinjanja. This is an African country.
-Historical setting: The story takes place in the period after the decolonisation of the country Kinjanja in Africa. Because of this the Kinjanjan people don’t trust the British people very well. There are problems with the elections and the local army. The difference between black and white is still very strong in Kinjanja.
c Initial incident:
The story begins with the news that Dalmire and Morgan’s ex-girlfriend Priscilla are going to marry each other. Morgan is very depressive about this, because if some things had gone better he would marry to Priscilla instead of Dalmire.
The climax is the day the elections are in Kinjanja. On that day Morgan clears all the difficult and corrupt cases he had to do and he makes the most important decision in his whole life; quitting his job, which is his every ambition and starting a new life.
7 Account for the title and/or subtitle, and their relevance to the work:
The title is: “A good man in Africa.” This “good man” is Morgan Leafy. Morgan always does the things that are good in his opinion. He serves his superiors well and he does whatever they want him to do. His clumsiness brings him in bizarre situations. He is blackmailed and abused because of all the mistakes he makes. Morgan can do nothing against this. He hasn’t got a bad hart, but his desire to keep his job is so big that he does some things he would rather not do. Thus Morgan actually is a good man who lives in Africa and his only desire is to keep his job.
8 Theme(s) of the work:
Theme 1: separation (Morgan and his girlfriend Priscilla separated)
Theme 2: abuse (Morgan is abused by his superiors)
Theme 3: friendship (Murray is Morgan’s only friend and he helps Morgan)
Theme 4: changes (Morgan changes his live and quits)
The conclusion: Sometimes you have to change so you can deal with your problems.
a Mention the main characters and describe them briefly:
Morgan Leafy: He’s a fat and lazy man and has low moral standards. He is very clumsy and is often very disappointed by himself. He is also oversexed. Morgan doesn’t express himself good towards other people. Morgan mostly wears sweaters and he sweats a lot, because of the heat and his fatness.
Priscilla Fanshaw: She looks very beautiful and is always well dressed. She is Morgan Leafy’s social superior and she let him know this very well.
Mr Fanshaw: He’s a dominating and self-willed man. He likes to give orders. He’s is a man who comes from the east and is also dressed as people are in the east.
Mrs Fanshaw: She is very dominating and arrogant. She can, just like her husband, force people to do something. She is almost as pretty as her daughter Priscilla. Mrs Fanshaw is always well dressed and she’s very self-confident.
Sam Adekunle: He’s a man who always wants to have everything under control. He even blackmails people for that. He can’t be easily taken by surprise. He has a lot of self-confidence. Sam Adekunle is a coloured man and always wears native African clothes.
Celia Adenkunle: She wants freedom and she’s a very unhappy woman, because she has to live with a man she doesn’t love. She’s very uncertain about her situation. Celia isn’t very beautiful. She is very thin and her legs are bony. Most of the time she’s normally dressed, but at her husband’s parties she has to wear native clothes, which she doesn’t like.
Dr. Murray: He wants to do the right things. He wants to bother his superiors, because they don’t play a fair game and because they want to abuse the university in which Alex Murray works. Murray believes in a better future and want to stop the superiors to take everything over. Murray is a good man and he’s always normally dressed.
10 The way the story is told:
11 Type(s) of language used:
Everyday language and dialect
12 My own opinion on this book:
This is really a very emotional book. The main figure hasn’t a peaceful live and everything goes wrong. His girlfriend Priscilla doesn’t want to be with him any more. Morgan had caught gonorrhoea from Hazel, his black affaire, and that’s the reason that he couldn’t have sex with Priscilla, but he couldn’t explain it to her and everything went wrong and Priscilla left him. Morgan couldn’t really live with this, but when she announces after a few months that another man engaged her it was too much for him. Other things went wrong as well. Everything in his job went wrong. He made terrible mistakes and a superior also blackmailed him. These things were very heavy for him and I liked to read how he finally cleared the mess he made.
Sometimes there were rather humoristic parts in the book. Especially the part in which Morgan was Father Christmas was very humoristic. Morgan showered in his Father Christmas costume because he was pitch-black from the soot of a fire. Then his superior, the duchess of Ripon, walked into the bathroom and saw him in the shower. He looked at her and he said “Evening duchess” and ran to the window and climbed out of it into the dark night.
Another thing that’s very good in this book is the critic about the British colonial past in West Africa. You can see that it is still a very sensitive point. The elections for example didn’t pass by without problems with an army, because the Kinjanjan people discovered that the British people were involved in it.
So the book was very emotional and even humoristic and the book handles about a recent theme. It’s really a good book to read.
13 Story-line (a short summary):
Morgan Leafy was the first secretary of the Deputy High Commission in the Kinjanjan capital Nkongsamba in Africa. His job was very easy and boring until his boss, mr Fanshaw, demanded Morgan to do him two favours. The first thing he had to do was spending some time with Fanshaw’s beautiful daughter Priscilla. These days were very nice and they fell in love with each other, but then the worst thing happened. Morgan got gonorrhoea from his black girlfriend Hazel. He didn’t tell it to Priscilla and at the time she wanted to go to bed with him, Morgan had to send her away. That was the end of their relationship. The other task was that Morgan had to help Fanshaw with a politic case. Morgan’s task was to get in touch with Sam Adekunle, who was the most important figure of the Kinjanjan National Party, to get more influence on him and to offer him a trip to London. The reason for this was the coming elections. The British people wanted a pro-British party in Kinjanja, because of the recently found oil there. The KNP with Sam Adekunle was the most pro-British party. Unfortunately Sam switched roles with Morgan and put pressure on him, because he slept with Sam’s wife. Sam discovered this and from that moment he blackmailed Morgan. Sam also new about Morgan’s black girlfriend. If Morgan’s boss would hear this, Morgan would probably lose his job. Morgan was in big trouble. Fanshaw had many unpleasant things to do for Morgan, like moving a dead body and Adekunle also had an unpleasant job for him. He told him to get in touch with doctor Murray. Adekunle wants to sell his land that lies close to the university. Earlier Adekunle sold one part of his land. It became a rubbish dump and now they want to buy the rest of Adekunle’s land so they can dump more. Adekunle has to convince the city council for selling the land. The head of the city council is doctor Murray. So Adekunle wants Morgan to bribe Murray so that he can sell the land. This didn't work and Murray teached Morgan that life is about being fair. Bribing isn’t fair and that you can better not be involved in politic cases. Morgan will lose his job, but Murray advised him to start a new live and resign from his old job before he can be fired. The days the elections are Morgan clears all his undone cases and resigns from his old job. Now he can start a new and hopefully better live.
Hij is geboren in Accra, de hoofdstad van Ghana. Hij bracht hier en in Nigeria, alwaar zijn moeder een lerares was en zijn vader een dokter, veel tijd door. Hij was zelfs in Nigeria tijdens de Biafra-oorlog, die duurde van 1967 tot 1970. Het had hem beïnvloedt. "Het was gek, idioot en totaal niet zoals ik had verwacht dat oorlog zou zijn. Mijn beeld van oorlog, die ik uit boeken en van de televisie had gehaald, bleek niet juist."
- A Good Man in Africa
- William Boyd
- Meer boeken van:William Boyd