Monday, August 07, 2006

Africa...past...present...? future
The Becka and I watched a library copy of The Flame Trees of Thika this weekend. Elspeth Huxley recounts her early childhood experiences in Kenya between 1912 and 1914. I was much the same age in this great picture taken by Grandma around 1960. These were the end days of British rule in South Africa. I remember the privileged status of being "European" as opposed to "Non European" under the apartheid system. The park benches, buses, neighbourhoods, schools, and beaches were respectively labeled. Recently I read Paul Theroux's book Dark Star Safari. He journeyed from Cairo to Capetown over a year, travelling as a non-tourist. His reflections are dark indeed. It is a story of poverty, despair, corruption, superstition, disease...and hope. Post colonial Africa has massive problems, the roots of which are difficult to divide.
On a lighter note, the book series by Alexander McCall Smith that begins with The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency gives a delightful, optimistic picture of life in southern Africa. Precious Ramotswe is the fat, jolly Miss Marple of Botswana. If you have time for some great summer reading these books are highly recommended.

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