A Lie for a Lie: MPLA Media Control in Ondjaki’s Luandan Novels

  • James Hussar California State Univesity, Fullerton
Keywords: Angolan media, MPLA, unreliable narrator, oral storytelling, magical realism


 This essay analyzes the strategies used by Angolan author Ondjaki (Ndalu de Almeida, 1977- ) to critique the control of Angolan media by the nation’s ruling party,
the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), in four novels: Bom Dia Camaradas (2001), Quantas Madrugadas Tem a Noite (2004), AvóDezanove e o Segredo do Soviético (2008), and Os Transparentes (2012). In the first three novels, Ondjaki draws on narrative techniques associated with oral storytelling and magical realism to create unreliable, exaggerated accounts, which he uses to discredit similarly hyperbolic “official histories” propagated by Angolan news outlets. In his latest novel, however, Ondjaki tackles collusion between the MPLA and the Angolan press more directly, detailing a process by which corrupt government officials and their media lackeys generate news releases in the interests of the Angolan elite and at the expense of the public.