April 12, 2003 - Malaysian Comics: RPCV Cindy Goff published "Tales From The Heart Of Africa" about Peace Corps Volunteers in the Central African Republic

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Central African Republic: Peace Corps Central African Republic : The Peace Corps in the Central African Republic: April 12, 2003 - Malaysian Comics: RPCV Cindy Goff published "Tales From The Heart Of Africa" about Peace Corps Volunteers in the Central African Republic

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 8:00 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Cindy Goff published "Tales From The Heart Of Africa" about Peace Corps Volunteers in the Central African Republic

RPCV Cindy Goff published "Tales From The Heart Of Africa" about Peace Corps Volunteers in the Central African Republic

Tales From The Heart Of Africa: The Temporary Natives
Published by Marvel Comics/Epic
August 1990, US$3.95
Story by Cindy Goff, Rafael Nieves
Pencils and Inks by Seitu Hayden

This graphic novel is a semi-autobiographical recount of the life of writer Cindy Goff, through the eyes of the story's protagonist, Cathy Grant. An ex-volunteer of the U.S. Peace Corps who spent some time working in the Central African Republic, writer Goff weaves a tale reflecting the efforts of the Peace Corps there in the 1980s, and gives some theories as to why so much effort wrought so little changes.

Working in the town of Bangui, bringing in much needed medical supplies as well as assisting the locals in vaccinating the children, Cathy Grant has been fortunate to work in a project that has managed to bring about apparent positive changes in the community. The locals appreciate their efforts, and there is little or no hostility or tension between the members of the Peace Corps and the locals. And then she met Jack Glaser.

Like her, Glaser is also a volunteer, but works in the village of Paoua. Overly energetic and seemingly an endless supply of enthusiasm, Glaser wants Grant to come to Paoua to aid him in the construction of a school for the villagers' children. Despite a minor dislike for Glaser, Grant agrees to help him out anyway. There, she discovers some tension existing between Glaser and the local villagers. Glaser wants the villagers to help him in the construction of the school, but they have refused to do so despite the fact that they acknowledge the improvements the school can bring to their village.

With help coming only from Bimini David, one of the youths of the village, Jack is frustrated at the lack of co-operation, leading to tension and distrust between both parties. It didn't take long for Cathy to understand the reasons behind the villagers refusal to aid Glaser, thanks to her understanding of Sango, the local dialect.

Viewing the school as a Munju, or white man's building, they do not feel that they are required to contribute their efforts unless they are paid. Although this might sound selfish, one must remember that these people have to spend their days working either at Bangui or to gather provisions or material to be sold to some other parties in order to eke a living.

In the end, Glaser suffers from a emotional breakdown and lashes at the villagers for the apparent failure of his project and lack of appreciation for his efforts, and is eventually flown home to Minnesota. Although this event has tarnished the image of the Peace Corps, work on the school continues with Bimini David working single-handedly to bring the project to reality. Were the villagers wrong in not offering their aide for free? Was Glaser in the right when he has continued to display a condescending attitude towards the villagers?

As far as I know, only two such graphic novels were ever released. This was the first release, followed by Bloodlines, which will be reviewed in the next update. Writers Cindy Goff and Rafael Nieves tells the story with a documentary-style approach, with the facts coming through straight and simple. And artist Seitu Hayden's style is neither highly detailed or stylish, but it gets the job done. In fact, his simplistic linework manages to convey a plethora of emotions from the characters convincingly and works very well given the realistic nature of the story.

I've never heard of this book before, and only picked it up on a whim when Splash Page Comics was having a sale of their back issues. It made for a pleasant reading experience that was a well-needed breather from my constant diet of super-hero comics. Grab this book if you ever see it lying around somewhere!

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Story Source: Malaysian Comics

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Central African Republic; Comic Books



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