Thursday, March 24, 2011

4 books

I just finished another memoir about Zimbabwe. The 4th in a string of memoirs about life in Zimbabwe. Life as a white African child and then later as an adult as Zimbabwe spiraled down through civil war and into greed, corruption, violence and hopelessness.

Sounds like depressing reading, and in many ways it is. But the subject matter is compelling and, though I am not a white African and have only 4 years of African childhood experience, I feel that connection with it. I was only 10 when we arrived in Kenya and 14 when we left but my life there is still vivid and ALIVE in my mind.

I can still smell the smoke from the charcoal making fires in August. The sweet smell clogging my nostrils and clouding the sky. I remember the rush of driving on safari and coming up on just fed lions, preening in the pre-dawn light after a nighttime kill.

I can feel the fear as we hung out our upper story windows yelling "mwezi, mwezi! theif, theif!" while watching my Dad race back toward the house, robbers chasing after him when they realized that the security airhorn he held didn't work. As the door slammed and the yelling continued I was sure they were in the house and were beating him only to realize they'd just crawled back into the truck to get the spare tire out and leave.

I love Africa, hope for it, despair for it and just can't stay away; even if it's just by reading right now.

The first two memoirs are by Alexandra Fuller.

The second two are by Peter Godwin.

"I feel like weeping. Weeping at the way Africa does this to you. Just as you're about to dismiss it and walk away, it delivers something so unexpected, so tender. One minute you're scared shitless, the next you're choked with affection." 
 A quote from Peter Godwin, When A Crocodile Eats The Sun

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