Guy Moeyaert is a well-meaning colonial official in a jungle district of the Belgian Congo in the last years of white colonial rule, after the Second World War, a paternalistic system where the state, unable to be properly present all over the vast, sparsely populated country, collaborates systematically with the Roman Catholic missions -in his post, father Alexis- and private enterprise, in case mainly the mining company -locally represented by engineer Lenaers- which also helps out with money and labor for such public tasks as road building. Even his grip on the natives is weak, as they live under hereditary tribal leaders, which must take from its people what they are legally obliged to deliver to the state in taxes and labor; coercion is done by force, including whipping on the bare buttocks, which Guy hates. Guy also starts a love affair with Hélène Vermarcke, who gets estranged from her husband Luk (the three were already friends in Belgium) as he devotes all his efforts the their plantation, leaving her alone with the native staff and their son, or is it Guy's? The adultery makes his position in the white community far weaker then is compatible with his position of theoretical authority without sufficient independent means. He also depends heavily on his educated black clerk Gabriel Ndazaru and ambitious white deputy Arthur. It all gets worse for everybody as the call for 'dipenda', black independence as in Ghana, gets stronger, in time even accepted 'in principle' by the Belgian government which plans a gradual transition which the idealist Guy supports but all other whites oppose, while the natives have neither patience nor insight and start attacking every symbol of the old regime, regardless of its objective value, and soon white people and 'collaborators' too- it gets physically dangerous, but Guy won't budge or flee...- Written by KGF Vissers
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