“Khalifa was twenty-six years old when he met the merchant Amur Biashara while working for a modest loan house owned by two Gujarati brothers. The Indian moneylenders were the only ones who had dealings with the local merchants and adapted to their way of trading. The big banks tried to impose paperwork, endorsements and guarantees when managing businesses, something that local merchants did not always see favorably, since they used networks and associations invisible to ordinary mortals. The brothers gave Khalifa work because he was related to them on his father’s side. To say that they were related might be an exaggeration, but his father was also from Gujarat, which was the same thing in this case. Khalifa’s mother was a peasant woman whom his father had met while working on the estate of a large Indian landowner where he spent most of his adult life, two days’ journey from the city”. Introducing us to Jalífa starts life after, by the Tanzanian writer based in England Abdulrazak Gurnah (Zanzibar, 1948). A beginning that undoubtedly encourages you to continue reading to learn about Khalífa’s history and destiny, along with that of the other protagonists of the novel.
The award of the Nobel Prize last year to Abdulrazak Gurnah made it easier for his work to become known beyond the Anglo-Saxon sphere. In our country, Salamandra has welcomed it in its catalogue, where they have appeared Paradise Y Seasideand now life afterthe last title of his production.
In life after, along with that of Khalífa, we know the discourse of Ilyas, his sister Afiya and Hamza. Their lives intertwine in an exciting narrative where history in capital letters and small history go hand in hand. We find ourselves in the context of colonialism in East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. A first German colonialism, on which the novel is fundamentally centered, and then British. Two different ways of exercising that colonialism whose consequences, Abdulrazak Gurnah believes, are still in force today.
Both Ilyas and Hamza, for one reason or another, served in the colonizing German army. Are two askari . The first, like many others, when he was little less than a child, was recruited by force. After many years, she returns to her town and discovers that her parents have died and her sister is taken care of by relatives who practically treat her like a slave. For his part, Hamza is sold to a merchant, something similar to what happens to Yusuf, the protagonist of Paradise. Later, he joins the same troops and a German officer notices him and clearly explains the purpose of the colonization: “I am here to take possession of what belongs to us by right because we are stronger. We are facing backward and savage peoples who can only be governed by instilling terror in them […] The schutztruppe it is our tool, as are you. We want to turn you into ruthless and unfeeling thugs who will obey us without question, and in return we will pay you handsomely and treat you with the respect you deserve, whether you are slaves, soldiers or outcasts. But the fact is that you are not like them. You shudder and look and listen to everything that happens around you as if everything torments you.
When they awarded the highest literary award to Abdulrazak Gurnah, the jury highlighted “his moving description of the effects of colonialism in Africa and the fate of refugees, in the abyss between different cultures and continents.” Indeed, Abdulrazak Gurnah calls attention to and denounces one of the great issues of the 20th and 21st centuries, but he does so in depth, without forgetting his ambivalent character.
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Abdulrazak Gurnah: Life, After