Bangula is a developing island nation presided over by the Colonel, architect of the highly praised Reform policy aimed at transforming the lives of the island’s inhabitants. But the success of the Reform is clouded by rumbles of mismanagement and political opposition as well as by the looming shadow of the blood plague, which threatens to ravage Bangula’s population. Five turbulent years after the Colonel’s death, his son and heir Abioseh Gondo reluctantly assumes the mantle of leadership. He finds himself increasingly isolated, surrounded as he is by those who seek to sway his judgement and influence Bangula’s future. As the political intrigue and conflict escalates Abioseh has to contend with Zebulon Gondo, the Colonel’s love-child and ‘professional’ mourner turned trade unionist whose grassroots’ popularity is assuming mythical status. Then there is Hieronymus Jerome, a childhood friend who is Abioseh’s head of security but whose loyalties seem to be wavering. And finally, there is the Commission of Inquiry convened by the smooth-talking cabinet minister Wonderman Bhele, which seeks to decide Abioseh’s fate, in the process revealing the fundamental divisions that threaten to tear the fragile nation apart.
‘The Lost Colours of the Chameleon is a gripping and sophisticated satire of politics in the developing world that takes the South African novel into exciting new territory. ‘Using the universal language of allegory, Langa portrays with a paradoxical combination of sensitivity and brutal honesty how power transforms the most benign and mild-mannered of us into despots. Here is a writer who re-imagines Africa, and indeed the world, in a refreshing and timeless mode of storytelling.’ – Zakes Mda