Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Authenticity of Smell: Contenting Civilization in the Angola of Ondjaki's Bom Dia Camaradas

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), 83, (3), 241–248.

Abstract

En este artículo, se presenta una lectura de Bom Dia Camaradas, una novela de Ondjaki, una de las voces de la nueva generación de escritores de Angola, nacido después de la independencia de esta colonia portuguesa. Esta investigación propone que en la novela se yuxtaponen los sentidos de olfato, como referente de lo auténtico, y la visión, como algo que engaña. Esta valoración de la vista frente al olfato se opone a la jerarquía freudiana expuesta en El Malestar en la Cultura. En este trabajo, explico cómo la narrativa de Ondjaki ofrece una mirada alternativa de la civilización, una mirada en donde la utopía no se abandona, aun cuando los maestros cubanos — el mayor símbolo utópico de Angola — son forzados a huir conforme lo negociado bajo los auspicios del gobierno americano. Además de ofrecer una lectura detallada del texto, este trabajo presenta un trasfondo histórico relacionado a la salida de los cubanos y relaciona la conversión del MPLA al capitalismo con el sentido de pérdida que permea la novela de Ondjaki.

In this article, I offer a reading of Bom Dia Camaradas, a novel by Ondjaki, one of Angola's new generation of writers, born after the former Portuguese colony's independence. I argue that the novel deploys smell as an authentic sense in juxtaposition to sights that deceive. This devalourizing of sight in preference to smell counters a Freudian hierarchy, as developed in Civilizations and its Discontents. I argue that Ondjaki offers an alternate view of civilization — one in which utopia is not yet abandoned, even as its greatest symbol in Angola, Cuban teachers, are forced to leave as part of an accord negotiated under the auspices of Washington D.C. As well as a close reading of the text, I provide historical background to the departure of the Cubans, and relate the MPLA conversion to capitalism to the sense of loss that permeates Ondjaki's novel.

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Author details

Rothwell, Phillip