Heart of Darkness: The Light that Never Shines in the Tunnel.

What is life without light?

Author Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo) takes up this idea in the novel Tram 83. Tram 83 is a book written in 2014 set is City-State, a town somewhere in central Africa supported fully by mining. The novel has us begin in a ramshackle train station where Requiem, who dreams of taking over the seedy underworld of their city, meets up with an old childhood friend home from Europe, Lucien, from whom he has not been in touch for a decade. They then continue to a nightclub in Tram 83 where it seems to cater to immediate carnal pleasures. Afro-pessimism seeks to show the “non-human” form that black folk find themselves in or what would be called social death in relation to how black folks are treated every day. With Afropessimism, it allows the author to shine light on issues Africa has with racial stereotypes, racial identity and the history they have with Belgium.


The quote “THE UNFINISHED METAL STRUCTURE RECALLED THE TURBULENT YEARS OF LEOPOLD II (28),” shines light on the issue with history and how whites racially identified Africans. I believe the quote meant that the place being so negative like The DRC, City-state, and the Tram 83 are the issue like racial identities and racial stereotypes that never been solved between had recurred once again. Without and never having control of the situation, there is no hope, and a life without a chance or hope is a life without light. And a life without light is history repeating it’s self again and again.

I think Mujila would say what is life without light would be

“You share the same destiny as everyone else, the same history, the same hardship, the same rot, the same Tram beer, the same dog kebabs, the same narrative as soon as you come into the world. You start out baby-chick or slim-jim or child-soldier. You graduate to endlessly striking student or desperado. If you’ve got a family on the trains, then you work on the trains; otherwise like a ship you wash up on the edge of hope – a suicidal, a carjacker, a digger with dirty teeth, a mechanic, a street sleeper, a commission agent, an errand boy employed by for-profit tourists, a hawker of secondhand coffins. Your fate is already sealed like that of the locomotives carrying spoiled merchandise and the dying.”

To him there is no hope. The colonial past is a past that refers to Leopold II . Leopold II: 2nd king of Belgium Founded and exploited Congo Free State as his own personal property. World’s only private colony. Estimate that Leopold’s colonial project killed ½ of the people: between 1880 and 1920 the population of the Congo slashed from 20 million to 10 million. It’s where you are your past and if there wasn’t any light before there won’t be any later; its set-in stone. He might believe that there is not hope for Africa’s, that history might repeat. I believe it is an Afropessisim because the book shows that there is no hope for making democracy stronger and achieving sustainable economic development in the region in Africa.


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Where do We Belong in a Place Like This?

Have you ever asked yourself where do I belong? Where do I fit in?

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As I finish up the book, Signs Preceding the End of the World, which was translated into English by Lisa Dillman. It focuses on Makina, a young Mexican woman, as she travels from her rural village across alien towns, ice-green rivers, and black mountain searching for her brother north of the U.S.-Mexico border.


While reading, the author takes us on heroic journey that goes through many underworlds to get to the place where she finds her brother. Through the journey, one thing that had caught my attention was how the book is related to real-life problems with immigrants and how they don’t feel like they belong in a place they started life, but the life they wanted is no better than the life they once had.


In the beginning of the book, her mom sends her to give her brother a paper. While on her journey she was sent to a house. She had knocked and there stood a small man with glasses, wrapped in a purple bathrobe. He was black. And before she had said something, he beat her to it with, “I could put a blond wig on if you would like.” I think this is a good example of trying to belong in the world. He’s just a black guy living in a white world, and all you could really do is dress like a white person because there is not anything you can really do about it.



Another example of one trying to belong/fit in was with her brother. After she had found him on army base, he was too ashamed to return home, which is why he accepted the first job that came his way. His job was to help save a family, but I think it is him who needs saving.

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His job was to pass himself off as the other, in return, the family would pay him sum of money. He learned by heart the answers he must give when he reported, the family taught him to copy the signature of the kid he is replacing, memorized his social security number, and they gave him pancakes with warm milk which they had treated him well.


I think that was the life he wanted and to belong in a life and family that has everything that may seem like the “American dream” but it is something he’s not going to be able to get. He realized traveling to where he is, may had seem like everything in the movie, but it’s not like that.


I think that why the author had used Makina as a heroic narrator. She strong, independent, problematic and can speak 3 different languages. From the beginning, she knew where she had belonged.

“She’d already arranged for her crossing and how to find her brother, now she had to make sure there would be someone to help her back; she didn’t want to stay there, nor have to endure what had happened to a friend who stayed away too long, maybe a day too long or an hour too long, at any rate long enough too long that when he came back it turned out that everything was still the same, but now somehow all different, or everything was similar but not the same: his mother was no longer his mother, his brothers and sisters were no longer his brothers and sisters, they were people with difficult names and improbable mannerisms, as if they’d been copied off an original that no longer existed; even the air, he said, warmed his chest in a different way” (p7)


The Gate between two lives

BOOM! Year 2023 KA-BOOM the gate has fallen…..

Utopia was published in Arabic in 2008 by Ahmed Khalid Towfik, which then was translated in English by Chip Rossetti. The book is dystopic science fiction set in Egypt, where the authors takes us into the future as well as the present life he lives today.

In Utopia, the young man leaves and wanders out of Utopia’s gates to the “Other” side with a lover were they disguise themselves as servants in search of two poor people where they can cut their limbs and bring it back to Utopia as a trophy. The two are all too soon discovered, given away from their soft hands and clean fingernails, which leads a young “other” who saves them from an angry, drug-mad crowd and hides them in his home. The Other is named Gaber, he allows them to have the opportunity to have help return to their lives with a few exceptions

The author shows us what life can be as a rich Egyptian if they lived on the inside of the gate (north coast) and on the outside of the gate what it’s like to live as an Egyptian today.

He writes to shed light on the real situation plausible for the future, which shows social dynamics of opposition; as economic dynamics, neoliberalism 1970’s and has historically references; which allows us to connect our lives now to our lives in a few years.