The Ukimwi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe by Dervla Murphy

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In January 1992, Dervla Murphy prescribed herself several carefree months and embarked on a cycle tour (pedalling and pushing) from Kenya to Zimbabwe via Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia on the cyclist’s equivalent of a Rolls Royce called Lear. Before long, she realized that for travellers who wish to remain stress-free, Africa is the wrong continent. Inevitably she was caught up in the harrowing problems of the peoples she met; the devastating effects of AIDS (ukimwi is Swahili for AIDS), drought and economic collapse; scepticism about Western “aid schemes”; and corruption and incompetence, both white and black.

The Ukimwi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe

Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

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For Ibn Batuttah of Tangier, being medieval didn’t mean sitting at home waiting for renaissances, enlightenments and easyJet. It meant travelling the known world to its limits.
Seven centuries on, Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s passionate pursuit of the fourteenth-century traveller takes him to landfalls in remote tropical islands, torrid Indian Ocean ports and dusty towns on the shores of the Saharan sand-sea. His zigzag itinerary across time and space leads from Zanzibar to the Alhambra (via the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, Mauritania and Guinea) and to a climactic conclusion to his quest for the man he calls ‘IB’ – a man who out-travelled Marco Polo by a factor of three, who spent his days with saints and sultans and his nights with an intercontinental string of slave-concubines.
Tim’s journey is a search for survivals from IB’s world – material, human, spiritual, edible – however, when your fellow traveller has a 700-year head start, familiar notions don’t always work.

Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones by Greg Campbell

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Journalist Greg Campbell leads the reader down the international diamond trail of brutality, horror, and profit – providing an on-the-ground and in-the-mines story of global consequence. First discovered in 1930, the diamonds of Sierra Leone have funded one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. These “blood diamonds” are smuggled out of West Africa and sold to legitimate diamond merchants in London, Antwerp, and New York, often with the complicity of the international diamond industry. Eventually, these very diamonds find their way into the rings and necklaces of brides and spouses the world over. Blood Diamonds is the gripping tale of how the diamond smuggling works, how the rebel war has effectively destroyed Sierra Leone and its people, and how the policies of the diamond industry – institutionalized in the 1880s by the De Beers cartel – have allowed it to happen. Award-winning journalist Greg Campbell traces the deadly trail of these diamonds, many of which are brought to the world market by fanatical enemies. These repercussions of diamond smuggling are felt far beyond the borders of the poor and war-ridden country of Sierra Leone, and the consequences of overlooking this African tragedy are both shockingly deadly and unquestionably global. Updated with a new epilogue.

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones

Tropic of Capricorn by Simon Reeve

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In Tropic of Capricorn, bestselling author Simon Reeve embarks on a 23,000-mile trek around the southernmost border of the tropics – a place of both amazing beauty and overwhelming human suffering. Heading east through Africa, Australia and South America, Simon encounters breathtaking landscapes and truly extraordinary people: from Bushmen of the Kalahari and Namibian prostitutes battling with HIV to gem miners in Madagascar and teenagers in the Brazilian favela once described as the most dangerous place on earth. It is a collection of daring adventures, strange rituals and exotic wildlife, all linked together by one invisible line.
Like the best travel writing, Tropic of Capricorn confronts important issues of our time – our changing environment, poverty, globalisation – by taking us on an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Tropic of Capricorn

Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller

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When Alexandra “Bo” Fuller was in Zambia a few years ago visiting her parents, she asked her father about a nearby banana farmer who was known as being a “tough bugger”. Her father’s response was a warning to steer clear of him: “Curiosity scibbled the cat, ” he told her. Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendhip with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the Rhodesian War. A man of contradictions, K is battle-scarred and work-weathered, a born-again Christian and given to weeping for the failure of his romantic life and the burden of his memories. Driven by K’s these memories of the war, they decide to enter the heart of darkness in the most literal way, by travelling from Zambia through Zimbabwe and Mozambique to visit the scenes of the war and to meet other veterans.

Scribbling the Cat

Facing The Congo by Jeffrey Tayler

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At thirty-three one’s direction in life should be clear, and mine was not.’ In search of some direction, or at least a new challenge, Jeffrey Tayler gave up his day job of opening rejection letters from publishers and went exploring. Having always been fascinated by Africa and the great age of Victorian exploration he went to Kinshasa in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and found a boat to take him up-river to Kisangani, deep in the heart of the jungle. Not content with that, he then bought a pirogue (a kind of canoe), hired a guide and set out to paddle the 1,000 miles back to Kinshasa. A personal journey, an intrepid voyage, an exceptionally well-written travelogue: FACING THE CONGO is all these things and more. A wonderfully vivid and exciting read for armchair adventurers everywhere.

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Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux

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Paul Theroux sets off for Cape Town from Cairo — the hard way.
Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country, Theroux visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous. It is a journey of discovery and of rediscovery — of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.
Safari in Swahili simply means “journey”, and this is the ultimate safari. It is Theroux in his element — a trip where chance encounter is everything, where departure and arrival times are an irrelevance, and where contentment can be found balancing on the top of a truck in the middle of nowhere.

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Travels in Mauritania by Peter Hudson

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When Peter Hudson set off for Mauritania, he knew it only as a big blank space on a map of Africa. Travelling from the capital, Nouakchott, hardly more than a desert encampment, he found among the oases and ancient caravan towns a people in harmony with their harsh surroundings, and began to understand something of the emerging nation’s confrontation with the This book describes Hudson’s travels as he progressed by foot, canal and donkey. Peter Hudson’s book “A Leaf in the Wind” was shortlisted for the 1988 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

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Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith

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“The amazing true story of Julian Smith, who retraced the journey of legendary British explorer Ewart The Leopard Grogan, the first man to cross the length of Africa, in hopes of also winning the heart of the woman he loved. In 1898, the dashing young British explorer Ewart the Leopard Grogan was in love. In order to prove his mettle to his beloved – and her aristocratic stepfather – he set out on a quest to become the first person to walk across Africa, a feat hitherto thought by many explorers to be impossible”. (“New York Times”, 1900). In 2007, thirty-five-year-old American journalist Julian Smith faced a similar problem with his girlfriend of six years …and decided to address it in the same way Grogan had more than a hundred years before: he was going to retrace the Leopard’s 4,500-mile journey for love and glory through the lakes, volcanoes, savannas, and crowded modern cities of Africa. Smith interweaves both adventures into a seamless narrative in “Crossing the Heart of Africa”: the story of two explorers, a century apart, who both traversed the length of Africa to prove themselves …and came back changed men.

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Meeting the Invisible Man: Travels And Magic In West Africa by Toby Green

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Toby Green weaves a mystical narrative of lore and tradition as he searches for, and finds, the secret power of invisibility. Exploring the extraordinarily vibrant spiritual world which underlies the surface of West Africa, this book examines the conflict between the traditional and the modern in a region whose culture is a melting pot of local, Islamic and European influences. Building on local narrative, we hear first-hand the mysterious stories of invulnerability and invisibility retold from the author’s own experiences. Engaging the reader with themes as diverse as the histories of the slave trade and the kingdoms of West Africa, the invisible men of HG Wells and Ralph Ellison, Plato’s simile of the cave and Marco Polo’s observations about Zanzibar, the book is by turns mysterious, hilarious, beautiful and troubling.

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