The setting of the book is the bustling town of Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo or Zaire or Congo or … The wider setting is the tumultous country with its upheavals, its violent conflicts, its everyday life. The town is inhabited with so many people who are surviving in many different ways. The rich elite, the people with the roadsidestalls, the clerks, the foreigners, the mothers who raise their children.
One of the people who try to make it in Kinshasa is Célio Matemona. He hails from the eastern part of the country. He went to school in Lubumbashi. When one of his teachers, father Lolos, is moved to the capital city, he sets out on a journey by foot and rail and boat to be with his mentor.
Célio his lost his family during one of the clashes between the army and a rebelgroup. One thing that reminds him of his father is a textbook on mathematics. He decides to use the formulas in the book as a founding stone for his worldview and his behaviour. Therefore he gets the nickname ‘Célio Mathématik’.
During his time in Kinshasa he helps father Lolos in collecting money for welfare projects. He gets involved with more complicated things when one of his friends is killed during an organized demonstration. He is asked to join the Bureau of Information, when the Director tries to downplay the murder of his friend. The Bureau, with close contacts with the president, proves to be a Bureau of Disinformation. While he is working for this Bureau, using his mathematic formulae to plot events and predict events, he keeps in touch with father Lolos, who is a kind of conscience to him.
At times the book is funny, chilling, disturbing, hopeful. Bofane has doen a good job in writing this book. It shows the power and versatilty and the spirit of life 0f the people in this immense town.
In Koli Jean Bofane – Mathématiques congolaises – 2008