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The Prophet of Zongo Street

Summary of Short Story

The central character, a young boy, befriends one of his neighbors, Kumi, a meticulous postal worker. Every so often, Kumi treats the neighboring kids to meat pies and Fanta, while waxing lyrical about philosophy and the illusory pursuit of happiness. During these discussions, he spouts pan-African rhetoric which gradually intensifies until one day when Kumi undergoes a radical change. He begins neglecting his appearance and stops watering his flowers. He takes to the street to preach his radical new doctrine, teaching that foreigners have sold us lies about foreign gods and plundered Africa for its natural resources. Kumi grows more emaciated and unkempt until the day he disappears and his dead body is found at home, amongst his books. While the neighbors suggest his pursuit of knowledge drove him insane, the narrator mulls the truths he told and memorializes him privately.

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