Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Book 5, Chapter 8

By Barbara Kingsolver

Book 5, Chapter 8

Leah Price Ngemba. Kinshasa, 1974.

  • The Congo has a new name: Zaire. Although the names may have changed, the hassles are just the same. Maybe worse.
  • To keep their memories fresh, Anatole and Leah often quiz each other about what places used to be called before the change.
  • Adah sends Leah some American anti-Congo propaganda and mentions Eeben Axelroot's alleged link to Lumumba's murder. His successor, Joseph Mobutu, while being firmly in America's pocket, has also been keeping all of the Congo's money for himself.
  • Further exasperating Leah is the upcoming fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman (yes, the grill guy), who are each getting five million dollars for their fight in Zaire.
  • Leah calls the fight "two black men knocking each other senseless for five million dollars apiece. And they'll go away never knowing that in all of goddamned Zaire not one public employee […] has been paid in two years" (5.8.34).
  • Hm. Not quite as catchy as "Rumble in the Jungle."
  • To make money, Leah signed on to teach "the oddly unpoetic children" (5.8.65) of Americans who have come to the Congo to work on the Inga-Shaba power line.
  • They're awful children who make fun of her name (calling her "Mrs. Gumbo) and give her all sorts of trouble.
  • Leah quit after a year (way to stick it out—we'd have lasted about two weeks), and later learns that the project was never meant to be successful.
  • It was intended to put the Congo in an almost impossible-to-repay debt to the Export-Import Bank.
  • Way to end the chapter on a hopeless note, Babs.