Abdou Kader Beyè
Abdou Kader Beyè (ah-BEW KAY-dehr BAY-yay), called El Hadji, a prosperous Senegalese businessman in his fifties. He is a Muslim and a polygamist, with two wives and eleven children. Ousted from his first career as schoolteacher because of his union activities under the colonial regime, he prospers with the coming of independence, moving through a succession of business ventures, not always honest and sometimes exploiting the poor. Part of the rising native bourgeoisie, he is a member of the select Group of Businessmen of Dakar, as well as of several boards. Confident, ostentatious, and pompous, he spends money lavishly on a Mercedes-Benz automobile and a chauffeur, villas for each of his spouses, European clothes, and, finally, the showy, elaborate celebration of his third marriage. Someone has cast on him a spell, the xala, that makes him impotent, a disgrace in his society. Only at the end, when he has tried every means to remove the spell and correct his condition, when he has lost everything—wealth, reputation, two of his wives, colleagues and friends, and property—does he learn that the spell was cast by a relative with whom he had dealt dishonestly years earlier.
The beggar, who is unrecognized as a member of Abdou Kader Beyè’s clan. In spite of being picked up by the police frequently at El Hadji’s request, the beggar returns consistently to the same spot opposite El Hadji’s office, sitting cross-legged at the street corner and chanting in an annoying, piercing voice. It is he who finally brings about the downfall of El Hadji, to avenge his...
(The entire section is 710 words.)