4 out of 4 stars
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In Confessions of a Llama, Patrick Ntsime narrates the tumultuous story of Mr. Motara, South Africa’s first diplomat to the country of Bolivia. The book starts with a brief history of how events unfolded during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. In particular, he describes Mr. Motara’s ancestor, Somatina Silva, who was “sold to the richest Spanish bidder to work in the 16th century silver mines of Potosi, Alto Peru, the new world of South America.” As we are introduced to the suffering of the mineworkers, we glimpse the hellish conditions they were exposed to at that time. With so much despair, their faith and hope gave them an enduring spirit.
The protagonist, Mr. Motara, carries us through a broad array of challenges throughout his life. During one of his trials, he’s diagnosed with a mental illness that sends him to a psychiatric institution. On another occasion, we witness human rights violations that mirror our own current events. Human trafficking is at its peak, and various drug lords are forming nefarious coalitions with politicians, leading to corrupt systems of government. Being South Africa’s first diplomat to Bolivia during a difficult period in South African history, Mr. Motara has considerable responsibility on his shoulders. Will he succeed in his task, or will he be engulfed by the waves of the poisoned political system?
I liked how the author used first-person narration; it made me forget that this is historical fiction. The book reads like an engaging memoir. The journey back in time revealed the historical interplay between the African and South American cultures. Reading about the slave trade was deeply emotional for me. The author’s expressive writing style easily engages the reader while exploring worthy themes such as racial discrimination, government corruption, and the exploitation of the Amazon.
At first, it seemed the writer was taking too much time in giving detailed descriptions of all the scenes, which sometimes became a bit boring. But later, I found this descriptive technique quite powerful in creating vivid scenes that shaped an emotional reading experience. Personally, I found the first chapter rather disturbing, especially reading about the hardships that the slaves endured. As the story progresses, all the various themes begin to slowly emerge. As a nice contrast, the story is spiced up with a bit of love and friendship relationship between Mr. Motara and Pam, a beautiful model. I would recommend this work to readers who enjoy historical fiction with some elements of romance.
I encountered minor editorial errors that did not distract me. There are some light erotic scenes that have been tastefully described, limiting the use of expletives. Confessions of a Llama is an educative, eye-opening, and emotional read that deserves nothing less than 4 out of 4 stars.
Confessions of a Llama
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