A map and a brief introduction set the scene by connecting the dots of history. The forceful transformation of the people of Goa by the Portuguese; the enslavement of Africans, followed by the parceling of 11.6 million square miles of Africa to seven European colonial powers in 1884, and on to the twentieth century.
Precocious Lando is born in British-ruled Kenya to Goan parents just as WWII breaks out in Europe. His parents are among those who flocked to East Africa from their native Portuguese India, lured by promises of a bright future by British colonialists, who found that the “Westernized Christian Indians” suited their needs perfectly. Lando’s family and community struggle to keep their Indo-Portuguese heritage and Catholic faith alive in a Kenya dominated by the ugly reality of racial segregation.
But Lando’s world is also filled with adventure, and readers are transported in dhows and steamships across the Indian Ocean, and travel by ox-drawn carts, carriages, steam locomotives, and bicycles right along with the characters. Ultimately, to fulfill his father’s dreams, the eleven-year-old must embark on the biggest adventure of his life: journey to distant Goa to attend a Jesuit-run boarding school — and then engineer his escape.
Beyond the Cape brings vividly to life the alluring sights, sounds, and smells of mid-twentieth century East Africa. The book is filled to the brim with evocative, multi-layered stories steeped in history — stories that are alternately funny, sad, and touching as Lando grapples with the complexities of straddling two distinctly different worlds.