An artful combination of cultural anthropology and fiction.
The eagle of the title refers to a chief of the Bashilele tribe who reside in the Kasai district of the Belgian Congo. The novel interweaves the stories of two young women: Julia, a white girl from the Bible Belt of the United States who wishes to do missionary work in Africa, and Buakane, who longs to escape her fate. Buakane is traded for goats and chickens by her parents to the chief, who is looking for his 23rd wife, a position that ensures she will have food and shelter until her powerful and abusive husband dies, at which time she will be buried alive alongside him. The women’s paths cross when Buakane runs away from her wedding and is rescued from a hyena attack by missionaries driving Julia to her new post. As the story progresses, readers are invited to contemplate religious philosophy and consider the exploitation of women.
Engrossing and educational.