Black Moses Summary & Study Guide

Mabanckou, Alain
This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Black Moses.
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Black Moses Summary & Study Guide Description

Black Moses Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Black Moses by Mabanckou, Alain.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Mabanckou, Alain. Black Moses. Serpent’s Tail, 2017.

Mabanckou divides Black Moses into four unequal chapters, with three chapters named after the name of the town where the action takes place. Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose yamoyindo abotami namboka ya Bakoko, nicknamed “Moses,” is the novel’s first-person narrator.

The first chapter, Loango, is 100 pages long and describes Moses’ life at the orphanage. The orphanage is run by a cruel director, Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, who whips the children for any small infraction. Their one relief from his rule is when Papa Moupelo visits them on the weekend, teaching them songs and dances from his native country of Zaire. When the socialist Revolution is instituted in the orphanage, Papa Moupelo is no longer welcome. The Revolution changes the way the orphanage is run. The children now have to memorize the President’s speeches and read a bulletin entitled Pioneers Awake! Religion is banned and the teaching of Marxism-Leninism is made a priority. The director starts fearing his position will be taken away after he is visited by inspectors that are there to tackle corruption. The nepotism he has displayed while holding his position has led to a personal investigation of his practices.

While in the orphanage, Moses becomes the second in command of the twins, Songi-Songi and Tala-Tala. He earns this position after he spikes their food with chili pepper, seeking revenge for the bullying of his friend, Bonaventure Kokolo. The twins rule the orphanage with their bullying and when they decide they want to escape, they invite Moses to come with them.

The second chapter, Pointe Noire, begins with Moses’ escape from the orphanage. Moses and the twins go to Pointe- Noire, moving in to the Grand Marché. They start a gang and commit petty crimes in order to survive. When the mayor, François Makélé, launches a campaign against the crime and homeless youths of the Grand Marché, the gang is forced to flee to the Côte Sauvage. No longer able to steal food from the market, they are forced to catch and eat street cats and dogs. Moses is appalled to find out he has been eating these animals and grows tired of being in a gang where everyone fights for his position. While he is wandering the streets one day, he assists a woman, Maman Fiat 500 with her grocery bags. He goes with her to her home, a brothel she runs. Moses continues visiting her and eventually moves in when the twins flee with the gang’s money.

When Moses turns 19, Maman Fiat 500 gets him a job as a dockhand and gives him a hut to look after. Moses is devastated one day to find the brothel in rubble and Maman and the girls gone. This happens during the mayor’s campaign to eradicate Zaire prostitutes. It is at this time that Moses starts losing his memory. His neighbor attempts to help him by taking him first to a doctor, who diagnoses Korsakoff syndrome, and then to a traditional healer. Neither are able to help him and refuse to continue treating him.

The third chapter, The Moroccan, describes Moses dressed in a green outfit to emulate Robin Hood. He buys a knife off the Moroccan who runs a store in Pointe-Noire. He walks along the river, stabbing the air with his knife, scaring passersby. He encounters the mayor’s car and murders him. The fourth chapter, Loango, describes Moses’ imprisonment for the murder of the mayor. The prison is a penitentiary for the mentally ill and is on the grounds of his former orphanage. Moses has been writing his confession from the prison. He believes he has acted in the interest of the people, saving them from a mayor that did nothing to care for them.

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