“Cursed be he”, by Tomokwabini: the temptation of describing anomie through writing

“In the beginning was beer! The beer was on point

“Cursed be he”, by Tomokwabini: the temptation of describing anomie through writing

“In the beginning was beer! The beer was on point. The beer was us. Yes, beer was everything. The beer was everything and nothing at the same time. Beer was therefore an all-nothing or a nothing-all like anything..." It is with a hallucinatory prologue that Maudit be-it opens, by the Congolese (DRC) author Christian Gombo alias "Tomokwabini".

Who's speaking? Where are we being led with these opening lines between humor and absurdity? We are struck, in the following pages, by a spectacle of desolation which is even more disconcerting. A terrible traffic accident has just occurred, in the middle of Kinshasa. The remains of dislocated and scattered bodies litter the ground, which has turned scarlet.

“There were two of us, the biker and me. We were driving on the main road 24.24, a plain road, always full of people,” explains a narrator. “Without preliminaries, a fuel truck went into a trance, gas truck, fire truck, and all nearby vehicles entered the fire dance. » The one who expresses himself thus is a writer with the disastrous pseudonym Maudit. Trapped in the pileup, he begins, between life and death, a haggard logorrhea where the story of his existence intersects with reflections on the state of the country and the world.

No plot

We quickly understand, we should not look for intrigue in this novel whose project consists less of changing a situation and characters than of trying to express anomie, to circumscribe through writing a feeling of chaos general: “Everything about us is jostling in desolate disorder,” says Maudit.

The disorder in question is first and foremost that of the character's own life, growing up without a father with a mother overcome by madness, a life led for all it's worth before HIV annihilates social ties and becomes a professional: "I I can no longer count the number of times I was glared at when my state of health was announced. Fortunately I'm not zero positive, it's the worst disease that makes any colossus collapse. »

So Maudit projects himself into dreams. Lying, dying, delirious, he observes his surroundings, imagining himself reaching the Cinquantenaire hospital, a few meters away, on the back of his mother who has come to his rescue. There, he will certainly meet the gaze of a caring nurse and experience true love. His dreams also take him back to the time when Patrice Lumumba, independence activist, raised the hopes of thousands of Congolese.

“Ah Lumumba! The only valid Congolese: a real man. (…) Too bad, you’re dead. And in our moments of fleeting contemplation, we say to ourselves about you: “A living ant is worth more than a dead lion.” No, this guy was a yakuza. A real Yankee. Single-handedly, he ate universal hatred (…). The guy was too present, heavy and imposing. May he rest in peace. »

A language that becomes a cry

But reality imposes itself: that of a shattered country, without political heroes, and of which the traffic accident with its shattered bodies is the allegory. A country where the doors of the public hospital, although rehabilitated, remain closed to the injured, due to abysmal corruption: “Corruption, commissions, kickbacks (…), I let you imagine the infinite quantities of all these facts aforementioned which came into play for the rehabilitation of the Cinquantenaire. But like many before us: move on! There is nothing to say. Lips are sealed. »

In a delirium full of rage and despair, Maudit thus takes stock of his country, subject to predations and mismanagement of all kinds, national and international. Ample, swirling, insistent, the language of Christian Gombo Tomokwabini becomes a cry, even if humor also sneaks into his words: “Thus, every Congolese who dies will become a diamond, a coltan, a copper, a tree, the water from the river to brew eternal beer. (…) This is why the whole world is silently killing us! Because there is not only my curse, you will have understood: there is the curse of congolity! This curse states: each Congolese who dies is more underground wealth for globalization. The day all Congolese die, the sun will go out! The golden age of civilization will end with the last Congolese killed! It will be the end of the world. So fear not, live! Congolese ! Jesus is not coming back soon. »

We will of course remember, when reading Maudit be it, the master of the baroque that was Sony Labou Tansi. At 35, Christian Gombo Tomokwabini, author, poet, fabulist, but also bookseller, follows in the wake of this great literary elder. The decades accumulate, but new poetic whistleblowers continue to emerge from the Congolese magma.