Nearly two decades ago a young Irish lad signed on for a trans-Africa adventure. Here he details his journey from Ramsgate to the Indian Ocean.
TV documentarian Magan (Angels and Rabies: A Journey Through the Americas, 2007, etc.) started his globetrotting career at the tender age of 20, when he took his life savings of £1,000 and embarked on a truck ride from Casablanca to Mombasa. He and 18 fellow travelers headed south from Morocco across the desert, then due east from Togo through Darkest Africa to Kenya. This troupe of strangers on a six-month journey of discovery looked less like Stanley’s band of explorers and more like performers in an odd replay of Lord of the Flies. Among the diverse cast bouncing along in the old truck were nurses on holiday, an athletic Lothario, a military type and a nubile London girl. None seemed to have made any progress in emotional maturity since junior high. On the road, they picked up additional extravagant figures like sex-starved Englishwoman Salade and hard-partying shepherd Mustafa. Taking occasional leave of his group to sample native food, drugs, djinns and dalliance, the author showed scarce concern for the very real dangers of AIDS. The pleasures of sexual byplay and innuendo were dampened here and there by angry crowds, avaricious border guards and venal military police. Their guide Suzi tended to abandon the wayfarers when the going got tough. Through domains of dictators, robbed of money, passports and food, sick and starving in the Heart of Darkness, the author and his fellows encountered pygmies, an albino and eventually some Peace Corps workers who came to their aid. A terrible time was had by all. Yet, resting under a baobab tree, Magan reflected on his adventure and was glad he had taken the road trip of a lifetime.
Group dynamics and danger make for an engaging African adventure.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)