The Poor Christ of Bomba

by Alexandre Biyidi
Start Free Trial

How does Mongo Beti critique colonialism in the book The Poor Christ of Bomba?

Mongo Beti critiques colonialism in the book The Poor Christ of Bomba by presenting the hypocrisies of the Catholic Church’s presence in the African society of the book. He depicts the Church as being more interested in French colonial concerns and money than in the salvation of souls.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mongo Beti, originally Alexandre Biyidi, presents an African society (modeled on his native Cameroon) under French colonial rule. By making an adolescent teenage African boy function as the first-person narrator, the author combines a critical commentary with a coming-of-age story. At the outset, Denis, the fourteen-year-old narrator, is wholly convinced that Father Drumont, the French priest for whom he works, has the best interests of the indigenous people at heart because he has brought them to salvation through Christ.

Through his tour of the province, though, Denis comes to realize that the Catholic Church has done more to pave the way for exploitation by the French government and businesses. The version of Christianity that Drumont’s church promotes is superficial and has totally failed to generate moral improvement among the general populace.

Rather than convincing young women of the value of monogamy, portrayed as superior to traditional polygamy, the camp is luring them into prostitution. This irony is epitomized by Raphael’s functioning as a procurer for men desiring prostitutes at the same time he works as a catechist in the sixa. While Denis’s innocence is finally stripped away, Drumont’s eyes are opened to the failures of his mission, and he prepares to return to France.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team