Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The efficacy of a Grigri

In my novel, Bokassa’s Last Apostle, the hero, Everton is given an envelope, containing a ring once owned by Emperor Bokassa and what he thinks is a necklace. It turns out to be a ‘grigri’, an African charm to ward off demons. They are sometimes called ‘fetishes’ and typically contain some sort of object to give them their alleged magical power. Pictured above is the Marché des Fétiches in Lomé, Togo, a famous street market, reminiscent of Diagon Alley in a novel by someone or other, I can’t quite remember. (LOL) I’ve encountered one of these myself, when I went with a guy from Sénégal many years ago.  A black leather pouch on a thread dangling around his balls. The wearer is sometimes supposed to be invisible, or to have the ability to deflect the path of bullets to escape being shot, but, in return, has to avoid eating certain foods and even to refrain from sexual activity, or the grigri loses its potency.

In Amadhou Kourouma’s excellent posthumous novel Allah n’est pas Obligé the reader is presented with the reality of modern day Côte d’Ivoire through the eyes of a boy-soldier from neighbouring Liberia. In the course of the narrative, he tells the story of how Ex-President Laurent Gbagbo fights back the ‘rebels’ from the north of the country in the protracted and bloody civil war. The rebels are all wearing many grigris to protect themselves from the army and wage a bloody campaign, immune to the bullets of Gbagbo’s troops.

Gbagbo hires in mercenaries from the west to counter the rebel’s offensive. And that’s where the narrative gets interesting. Kourouma says the grigris were completely ineffective against the western mercenaries, because they did not believe in their power.

I hold back from telling the story of how this is integrated into my plot, but the curious reader could do better than to read the extract from my novel here. Anyone who ‘likes’ the extract, or follows me on twitter (@rwshelton, just shoot the twitter bird!), will be entered in a draw for one of ten signed copies of the book.

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