The best-selling German author of The White Masai recounts her unexpected return to Africa.
In 2008, Hofmann decided it was time to put her African past behind her. Eager for a new adventure, she set out from her home in Switzerland for New Delhi. But no matter where she went in India, all she could see was her beloved Kenya. At home in Europe, Hofmann answered an ad in a magazine for a travel companion willing to travel “where the world was still wild” and discovered that trip would take her to Namibia—right back to the continent that would not leave her soul. Her expedition started in the ferociously hot savannah wilderness just outside Etosha National Park. She witnessed spectacular scenery and traveled through villages populated by the hardy Himba people, whose joyful appreciation for the little they had made her aware of the “comfortable existence” she lived in Europe. Several months after her return to Switzerland, Hofmann decided to travel back to Nairobi, where she observed the work of French charity Solidarités International and talked at length with slum dwellers who had managed to survive—and even more remarkably, to dare to dream of a better future—in the face of extreme poverty, crime and AIDS. Hofmann later returned to Kenya again with her daughter to visit the family of the Masai warrior ex-husband she had deeply loved as a young woman but from whose jealous rages she eventually fled. Narrated with genuine affection for all things African, Hofmann’s book is only somewhat interesting as a travelogue and even less so as a memoir of homecoming. The superficial treatment it offers of her own conflicted feelings toward the complex figure of her husband is disappointing and unsatisfying.
Of interest to followers of Hofmann’s other books about Africa but not especially compelling otherwise.