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The Poor Christ of Bomba

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  151 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In Bomba the girls who are being prepared for Christian marriage live together in the women's camp. Gradually it becomes apparent that the local church men have been using the local girls for their own purposes. This novel is a biting critique of colonial life and missionary activity.
Paperback, 219 pages
Published July 29th 2005 by Waveland Pr Inc (first published 1956)
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Stephen Durrant
Jun 18, 2009 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
A book of considerable power and complexity from the pen of Cameroon's greatest modern writer, Mongo Beti (1932-2001). The complexity comes in part from a "naive" narrator, a young African who is utterly devoted to a French priest and is inclined to view the latter in an idealistic light despite the gradual revelation of the sordid reality the priest has unwittingly facilitated. The character of the priest, filtered through this distorting narrative vision, is difficult to evaluate. After strugg ...more
3.5 stars
I didn't get it at first. Beti introduces us to a very annoying (to say the list) european missionary in Africa, who's full of believes and rules and punishments and scary stories, to prevent his black parishioners to go to heaven. Moreover, the story is narrated by a 13 years old boy, very keen on catholicism, who follows the Father around the Tala Country during his last pilgrimage from village to village. Through his eyes, the Father is a saint. Through my eyes, the Father is a colon
Mike Clinton
Neutral reaction to this novel, neither engrossing nor without appeal. The narrative flows well enough, and the plot keeps the reader interested in how matters unfold, although hardly engrossing or distinctive in voice. The narrator, Denis, describes the disintegration of an African mission as a tour by the veteran priest of the neighboring villages leads to his disillusionment and indirectly to revelations that convince him of the futility of imposing European culture on Africans and his own co ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Suresh rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be very interesting in giving some idea of interactions between white missionaries and black Africans. It's the kind of book that doesn't just give you everything you want to know up front, but is like a curtain that opens slowly only gradually revealing the true nature of things as they are. Initially we are forced to take the author's point of view in all things and act imagine that Father Drumont is almost a living god and dislike the machinations of Zacharia, but as time ...more
Jesse Morrow
Dec 26, 2012 Jesse Morrow rated it liked it
In a familiar image of African writers in 1950s and 60s, the main character is a young innocent boy (like Ngugi's Njoroge in "Weep Not Child" and Oyono's Toundi in "Houseboy"). The boy has grown up as a leading servant to Father Superior Drumont of the Catholic Mission of Bomba.

Through a tour of bush churches with the father, he learns of misuse of the girls at the sixta by their supposed teachers and handlers; the indiscretions of other Africans serving the Father; the contradiction the Father
May 11, 2015 Kara rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Kara by:
The poor Christ of Bomba would not be a good choice for you to read if your closed minded. Especially if you're very religious. This book exposes things in the Christianity sytem that would get many very furious. Although some in this book strongly oppose the ways the Bomba churche system is ran. Many praise it, or choose different religions.
Mar 08, 2014 Bbrown rated it liked it
The narrator being a largely passive character in this book, the main character in practice is Father Drumont. Unfortunately the narrative never conveys a clear picture of what Father Drumont is like: is he the type of priest we would be lucky to have more of, as the opening suggests, or is he a priest who is dangerously ignorant to things occurring right under his nose, as the ending revealed? Is he kind and charitable, or does he harangue the Christians for church dues and beat women to get th ...more
Jun 13, 2009 Baklavahalva rated it really liked it
Suspenseful, complex, intelligent. An incredible handling of dialogue and styles; the doctor's report at the end destroyed me. A story of one choir-boy's coming of age in a mission in Cameroon in the thirties of the past century (of course the book, being French, includes the scene of his deflowering by an older woman), and also a story of terrifying abuse involving women who work at the mission. The priest running the mission, and our young protagonist's platonic and parental crush, has to face ...more
Nov 26, 2014 ☯Emily rated it it was amazing
This is a very readable book about a Catholic missionary in Cameroon. It shows the problems of colonialism in the Africa and the corruptness of the Catholic church. The book is written from the viewpoint of a teenage boy, Denis, as he travels with the top ranking Catholic leader throughout the countryside surrounding Bomba. The white missionary totally misunderstands the African culture with tragic results. I was appalled at all the "wickedness" that existed at the mission with appalling indiffe ...more
LaRéus Gangoueus
Apr 08, 2016 LaRéus Gangoueus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, cameroun
Un très bon roman. Des personnages engageants. Un contexte très particulier dans le cadre d'une mission catholique en plein coeur du pays camerounais pendant la période coloniale. Roman à thèse. Du grand Mongo Beti
Chidinma Nwagbo
Jun 22, 2016 Chidinma Nwagbo rated it really liked it
Highly captivating and humorous work..
Jessica Journey
Feb 23, 2016 Jessica Journey rated it liked it
Shelves: african
From a literary standpoint, this is unimpressive. However, as we discussed extensively in the capstone course for which I read this book, Beti's handling of Denis and his psyche is quite fascinating.
Jul 30, 2009 AGamble rated it really liked it
Recommended to AGamble by: Chris Abani, in his novel Graceland
3.5 stars.

The Poor Christ of Bomba is a bit difficult to begin, but not to follow, and the conclusion is utterly devastating. Written as a diary novel, the ignorance and blind faith of the young narrator is easily penetrated by the most moderately astute reader. Beti paints another vivid picture of the colonial rape (this time, quite literally) of Africa and her people.
Feb 05, 2014 Jessie rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I thought it was an interesting take on Christianity's role in colonialism, while remaining a readable and intriguing story. The only thing I felt like I was missing was a little more insight into some of the characters.
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