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A perfect metaphor for the plight of a continent in turmoil - The Poet Floreate

Tineke Van Der Eecken is an amazing woman. At the tender age of 24, she leaves the comforts of her home in Belgium to join the international effort to eradicate poverty in Africa. With little idea of what to expect and armed only with her deep-seated dreams of justice for all, she quickly comes to realise the problems facing the region are many, and underlying it all is the corruption and power mongering of those who could be doing some good.

Tineke’s spirit is strong and despite the enormous challenges, she remains undaunted. Her journey brings her to Lusaka in Zambia where she works for the United Nations. The café seems to spring from her need to gather everything that is good about Zambia into one place where it can be cherished, savoured and celebrated. It becomes the symbol of the richness and diversity of the African culture, where local and traditional food is the focus and the colourful and flamboyant nature of its music and dance can be showcased; the very essence of Africa all rolled into one.

In her own unique way, Tineke reveals the struggles, heartaches and disappointments she faces in keeping the café afloat; how her business partner leaves much of the decision-making and effort to her, and how even her employees can turn against her.

Set against the backdrop of a continent in turmoil, this one small café becomes a perfect metaphor of its plight.

If you have ever wondered what life in Africa is like, or even if you already know, this book will take you to new levels of awareness. Life and death walk hand in hand. Desperation wins out over honesty, reducing good people to acts of theft just to survive. Yet above it all, the human spirit is a shining example of strength and endurance, and Café d’Afrique embodies this wholeheartedly.

A thoroughly recommendable read.

Louise Gillian Evans