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Writing a book of fiction based on a living character is no easy undertaking. Barack Obama, President of the United States, is an even more complex choice for fictional treatment.

But local author, Claude Maredza, was not intimidated by the Herculean character of Obama who is the primary focus of his latest book, Barack Hussein Onyango Obama: The first president of the world.

Though a unique concept to fictionalise a living person, the execution is poor. The book is more of an unofficial biography than a fiction. The narrative structure is linear and follows Obama’s life – how his parents met and subsequently broke up, his birth and upbringing, controversies surrounding his rise to political stardom and his African connection.

The book could have benefitted more if Maredza had brought something new to the story of Obama already in the public domain. Unfortunately, there are moments in the book, when it is difficult to distinguish between the narrator and the writer.

Indeed, Obama remains a mystery on the global political arena. Who is he? Is he for real? There are many conspiracy theories and yarns woven around the Obama person. Maredza’s book could have gone further to challenge them or interrogate the Obama character. Obama is very much a walking fictional character whose life story makes for fascinating literature.

Although the book is repetitive in some parts, what is outstanding is that Maredza’s narrative hinges on Obama’s African roots. And Zimbabwe features in the narrative as one of the countries affected by the fictional Obama’s foreign policy. If one wants a cursory read of Obama’s biography, then Maredza’s book can be introductory.

Maredza has published six books including Harurwa, The Blackness of Black and When God Went on Leave and others.

Source : Financial Gazette