In the Company of Men by Veronique Tadjo, Two boys venture from their village to hunt in a nearby forest. They shoot down bats and cook them over an open fire. Within a month, the boys are dead, their bodies ravaged by an unknown disease.
In the Company of Men by Veronique Tadjo, Experts caution against touching the sick. But their warning comes too late. The virus spreads rapidly, and the boys’ father is barely able to send his eldest daughter away for a chance at survival.
In a series of moving snapshots, Véronique Tadjo illustrates the terrible extent of the Ebola epidemic.
The story is told through the eyes of myriad character. The doctor who tirelessly treats patients day after day in a sweltering tent, protected only by his plastic suit. The student who volunteers to work as a gravedigger while universities are closed, helping the teams overwhelmed by the volume of bodies.
The grandmother who agrees to take in an orphaned boy cast out of his village for fear of infection. Watching over them is the ancient and wise baobab tree, mourning the direness of the earth yet providing hope for the future.
This had been an intense and different read.
When I was young I wanted to be a microbiologist, so reading about infectious diseases always interested me. Ebola is one of the most scariest illnesses that humanity is fighting right now. There is no vaccine and since it is only affecting to Africa. It looks like the rich countries are not interested in creating a vaccine.
Covid was discovered almost 2 years ago and there are almost 5 working vaccines, how is it possible that there’s not one for Ebola? It’s much more dangerous and has been cohabiting with us for much longer than that. Really, what are we waiting to invest in this illness?
The story is told in short chapters and with different voices explaining the Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016. Let’s be honest, this is not an easy read, I don’t think everyone is really aware of how dangerous this virus is. We are living in a pandemic right now. So it’s not difficult to feel connected with all the characters and the fear/pain/doubts they are having.
What attracted me most is the view from the Baobab tree, the environmental view. How it sees everything and is impossible to stop the human damage. But, aware of how endangered the world we are living is.
This is a short story, but believe me, not a light read, but a good way to spread some information. Done in a philosophical way, to make the reader aware that we are not living alone in this world. Are you ready for “In the Company of Men”?
About The Author
VÉRONIQUE TADJO is an author, artist and academic. Born in Paris, she grew up in Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The award-winning author of several novels and children’s books, as well as two volumes of poetry, Véronique has lived in Lagos, Mexico City, Nairobi and Johannesburg, where she was Professor and head of French and Francophone Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. She now shares her time between London and Abidjan.