A compelling account of William Henry Sheppard, an African-American missionary who traveled to the Belgian Congo in 1890 and became known as Black Livingstone due to his many lectures across the country detailing his adventures, reveals how he found the power to fight the persecution of Africans
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Pagan Kennedy is the author of seven books, including her most recent novel, The Exes. The recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, Britain's prestigious literary award.From Publishers Weekly:
In 1890, a 24-year-old African-American and Southern Presbyterian missionary named William Sheppard left New York for the Congo. During the next 20 years, Sheppard explored that country and in the process discovered a lake that now bears his name; made the first meaningful Western contact with the Kuba kingdom, one of the last native African dynasties, and failed in his attempt to create a "utopia of African-American achievement in Africa." He also clashed with the Belgian colonial authorities, exposing their brutal, genocidal treatment of Africans and, as a result, found himself at the center of a charged, internationally monitored trial in which the powerful performance of lawyer Emile Vandervelde, the leader of the Belgian Socialist Party, overcame a claim that Sheppard had slandered the foremost Belgian producer of rubber. Kennedy (The Exes), a novelist, is captivated by her charismatic subject charisma evidenced by Sheppard's enduring presence in the oral histories of the Kuba and, like the novelist she is, offers fully developed portraits of others in Sheppard's orbit as well. She speculates with a modern feminist's perspective about the inner life of Sheppard's wife, Lucy, who saw two of her children die in Africa, and she examines the reactions to Sheppard of white missionaries, who were unable to succeed in the native culture as well as he. Kennedy also explores the irony of Sheppard, who was made a Kuba prince, facing segregation and discrimination at home. Kennedy is an engaging writer and ably captures the undercurrent of horror found everywhere in the late 19th-century Congo while honoring Sheppard's accomplishments, heroism and character. Photos not seen by PW. (On-sale: Jan. 14)
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0142001767
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