What happens when we all see the hidden lion; don’t we wish for the colours of the chameleon
Bangula is a developing island nation presided over by the Colonel, architect of the highly praised Reform policy aimed at transforming the lives of the island’s inhabitants. But the success of the Reform is clouded by rumbles of mismanagement and political opposition as well as by the looming shadow of the blood plague, which threatens to ravage Bangula’s population.
Five turbulent years after the Colonel’s death, his son and heir Abioseh Gondo reluctantly assumes the mantle of leadership. He finds himself increasingly isolated, surrounded as he is by those who seek to sway his judgement and influence Bangula’s future. He cannot even confide in his mother MaZembe, still regarded as the matriarch of the nation, or in Jacqui Morgan, the model turned businesswoman who regularly shares his bed.
As the political intrigue and conflict escalates Abioseh has to contend with Zebulon Gondo, the Colonel’s love-child and ‘professional’ mourner turned trade unionist whose grassroots’ popularity is assuming mythical status. Then there is Hieronymus Jerome, a childhood friend who is Abioseh’s head of security but whose loyalties seem to be wavering as he forges a connection with the ever-jovial undertaker Baluba Jambo. And finally, there is the Commission of Inquiry convened by the smooth-talking cabinet minister Wonderman Bhele, which seeks to decide Abioseh’s fate, in the process revealing the fundamental divisions that threaten to tear the fragile nation apart.
The Lost Colours of the Chameleon is a gripping and sophisticated satire of politics in the developing world that takes the South African novel into exciting new territory.