Preface and Chapter One
• The da Silva family, descendants of the late Francisco da Silva, gather for a Mass celebrating his life.
• A young military man, Lieutenant-Colonel Zossoungbo Patrice, tells the family that events such as this family celebration, will not be allowed.
• Patrice gives in to the family's bribe and allows the celebration, warning that they are to listen to the presidential speech that evening.
• The family tunes in on the radio while they eat but focus on a favorite topic of conversation - the loss of the family fortune.
• Eugenia, known as Mama Wewe, is very white which is a rarity in the family.
• Mama Wewe had fallen in love as a young woman but the man had left her behind.
• Mama Wewe adopts a young boy named Cesario but he dies of cholera.
• The family gathers as Mama Wewe is nearing death and...
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