Africa’s Embrace is author Mark Wentling’s (Honduras 1967–69, Togo 1970–73; staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973–77) fictional account of the adventures of a young man named David from Kansas who travels to Africa to follow his destiny, and becomes caught up in a mystical, larger-than-life adventure. Upon arrival, he is renamed “Bobovovi” and chosen by the spirit world to ride the “mountain moonbeam” and become “transformed” by an ancient baobab tree.
Bobovovi does his best to make his goodwill prevail, but his humanitarian work is fraught with unforeseen, unusual challenges. He moves from one surprising adventure to another, telling an African story unlike any the reader has ever heard before. Africa changes him in unimaginable ways, and those changes are inculcated into the reader in order to teach a wide variety of lessons, helping the reader to better understand Africa and Africans
Although Africa’s Embrace is literary fiction, the novel is, in actuality, a thinly-veiled autobiographical account of the author’s three years of working in an African village back in the 1970s. The clever and gripping plot of the novel is a powerful, emotional story, combining magical realism with a colorful description of the practical challenges of living and working in Africa. The book introduces a cast of unforgettable characters and forces the reader to enter deep into the heart of Africa, and to consider the spiritual implications of introducing change. This is a novel that entertains, enriches, and educates.
Africa’s Embrace is a must read for anyone interested in Africa, as well as the cross-cultural experience and practical challenges of living on the continent. Those who are trying to help people anywhere — through work with an NGO, in the private sector, volunteer or other manner-will find this book to be an eye-opener.
And for fiction fans, those readers wishing to be transported to a different time and place will be thrilled by this spellbinding story. Africa’s Embrace is playful, dramatic, and professional. It is a serious literary work that will move the readers to both laughter and tears. The magical realism will leave the reader guessing about what’s behind the next bend in the road.
Wentling has worked in and/or visited all fifty-four African countries, and Africa’s Embrace is the culmination of four decades of his experiences in the continent. It is a fictional yet valuable, instructional, and enjoyable read. The book is aimed at all former, current, and soon-to-be Peace Corps Volunteers and Foreign Service employees. It also may be helpful to those working for non-governmental and international development assistance organizations around Africa. Additionally, the book will be of great use to university African studies departments, as well as English-speaking Africans.