What would you say is a generally known fact when it comes to African countries? You might come up with a few things, but most likely ‘corruption’ is amongst these words, if I’m not entirely wrong. Norbert Zongo’s The Parachute Drop tells a fictional, yet typical story of political corruption in a fictional state in Africa.
Corruption is one of the reasons behind the killing of Norbert Zongo, which happened before this book was published. As an investigative journalist he was not popular among dictators and corrupt officials, which lead to his assassination by the members of the presidential guard in Burkina Faso.
The book is set in a fictional state in Western Africa, with a corrupt president who has to flee for his life, because of a coup. The story has it all – greed, lust, corruption, betrayal, you name it. It is not hard to imagine this being based on a true story, although this is pure fiction, but naturally drawn from events and characters in African countries.
It felt a bit strange that I felt sorry for the corrupt president who lost everything, and was then persecuted himself. I would like to think that this is because of an excellent journalist writing the story. I have followed the trials, or the roads to the trials, of quite a few dictators or Nazis, and they all seem to have extreme health problems, they are all old and frail… They are all trying to reach our soft spot, for us to forgive them, and understand. I quite frankly find these men being fantastic manipulators until the very end. Well, I guess it never hurts to try.
If you think about it, it is quite sad that a grown up man, who have lost his power, is dreaming about his money in Switzerland, and other perks he’s longing for, together with gaining back the presidency of his country. He is hiding next door, in the neighboring country, trying to find high-level supporters. Well, to be honest, he gets the ending he deserves, but the humanitarian in me still feels it’s wrong.
The Parachute Drop is not a fantastic piece of literature, but it is important in many ways. Burkina Faso does not have many printed books available in general to an international audience to begin with. Zongo’s destiny adds an interesting detail to the story. I don’t think there are too many fictional books written about corruption and corrupt presidents in Africa. The subject is sadly too common when it comes to many countries, not only African countries, and we should never forget that this has been, and still is, the reality of many countries on our planet. It is worth a read, but somehow I feel the story itself won’t stick with me, but the death of Norbert Zongo will.