By Paul Theroux
Gauging the situation, he talks to Africans, relief employees, missionaries, and travelers. What effects is an insightful meditation at the background, politics, and wonder of Africa and its humans, and "a shiny portrayal of the key sweetness, the hidden energy, and the long-patient wish that lies simply underneath the skin" (Rocky Mountain News). In a brand new postscript, Theroux recounts the dramatic occasions of a go back to Africa to go to Zimbabwe.
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Extra resources for Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown
There had been fighting in Uganda from the 1970s onward. ” “Very good. ” Looking back, remembering friends and colleagues, it seemed to me a golden age. ” Awori was my age, regarded as a miracle of longevity in an AIDS-stricken country; a Harvard graduate, class of ’63, a track star. Thirty years ago he was a rising bureaucrat, friend and confidant of the pugnacious prime minister, Milton Obote, a pompous gap-toothed northerner who had placed his trust in a goofy general named Idi Amin. Awori, powerful then, had been something of a scourge and a nationalist, but he was from a tribe that straddled the Kenya border, where even the politics overlapped: Awori’s brother was a minister in the Kenya government.
But in a narrative of this kind, such stories of delays are not interesting. The traveler awaiting a visa sits in a stinking armchair in the embassy foyer, looking at the national map and the color photographs of the national sights and the dusty national calendar. There is a framed picture of the head of state smiling insincerely, the unfamiliar national flag, cranky officials, the sounds of telephones and murmurs, the back-and-forth of harassed secretaries. In these circumstances it is easy to talk yourself out of going, for this awful building and this dreary room begin to seem like the country itself.
I wanted to drop out. ” I said no thanks. The whole point of my leaving was to escape this stuff, to be out of touch. The greatest justification for travel is not self-improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace. As Huck put it, lighting out for the territory. Africa is one of the last great places on earth a person can vanish into. I wanted that. Let them wait. I have been kept waiting far too many times for far too long. I am outta here, I told myself. The next Web site I visit will be that of the poisonous Central African bird-eating spider.
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown by Paul Theroux