′Postcards from Congo′- A Bite-Sized Graphic History

Comic Books Crosspost Entertainment Reviews

Postcards from Congo by By Edmund Trueman Foreword by Didier Gondola

I love graphic novels as a vehicle for history. There is so much to be learned from them. Their combination of imagery and text can yield endless combinations that help us remember information in an entertaining way.

As a Latina, African culture is very alien to me, we are continents and languages apart, and colonization happened differently in South America. Apartheid and other forms of brutal colonialism have been swept from history books, and you just get certain images and ideas about huge parts of the world map (let me illustrate: Bolivia, llamas, Uyuni Salt flats, perhaps the Andean Carnival, wrestling cholitas, you get my drift).

We need to step up our understanding of each other, and this work is a step in the right direction. Even though it is not made by a Congolese author, it does have an extended bibliography at the back and an encouraging foreword by Didier Gondola, a professor of African History at Johns Hopkins University.

There is also the whole issue about ligne claire (clear line), the one made famous by Hergé, and the controversy surrounding Tintin in the Congo. There are so many things that are wrong in that book, that it should be used as an example of what paternalistic, white-only narrative used to look like in the 20th Century.

Edmund Trueman argues that the Postcards from the Congo are drawn in the same style as a direct response to that particular comic book.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a fractured and bloody history, variously undone by decades of colonialism, civil war, corruption, and totalitarian rule.

First exploited for its rubber by Belgium, and then controlled by various gangs over different rare and precious metals (from uranium to copper, to coltan, very much used in our consoles these days), the country has played a crucial role in the economic growth of the Global North, and suffered immensely whilst doing so.

The book has a lot of text, a lengthy introduction, and lots of information, sometimes it is a bit much to digest.

However, the illustrations cover a huge expanse of time, and the entirety of Congo’s history is portrayed in a series of vignettes: each page contains a frozen moment in time that help us understand a bit more of Congolese history.

And there is a lot of ground to cover, from resistance against colonialism to the fight for independence, to the art and music that have shaped Congolese culture, Postcards from Congo showcases how the Congolese people have resisted and survived, all the while persisting on the fight to take control of their lives and the country they call home.

There is a lot to be discussed in this book, and it clearly can be useful for any type of debate about the history of Africa.

′Postcards from Congo′ is available since November, 2022

Categories: Social Issues, Graphic Novels & Non-Fiction, History

Format: Paperback, 176 pages

ISBN: 9781551528953,
Publisher ‏: ‎ Arsenal Pulp Press

Featured image by Edmund Trueman all images belong to Arsenal Pulp Press


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