Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

I’ve spent the twenty-four hours following the release of the Marikana Report sitting and reading it, making reader’s notes as I go, as a service to those who won’t have the time to spend going through the 600-page document. So having taken a massive nap since, I want to just share a couple of thoughts on it

Up at 09h00 and off. I have my letter, hat, sunscreen, and the weather’s looking beautiful.

When you travel long enough, and you meet enough people, you’ll eventually come across a properly unrecorded myth. A story that people in an area know and which might have existed for a time in the national historical memory, but has nevertheless since retreated into obscurity. There’s a story about the concrete thrones of Idi Amin that structured the antics below. And it’s a myth of that sort.

Categories: Africa, Journalism, Travel, Uganda

The river that connects Siem Riep to Phnom Penh is one of the few – possibly the only – that seasonally changes direction, depending on which end of it is being rained on at any given moment. Or so Lonely Planet told me the time. Jumping between the two cities that afternoon – now years   Read More …

Truth be told, I blame Kerouac. Later on, Dana Snyman had a hand in it too, but mostly, originally, it was Kerouac’s fault.

[Journal Extract, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2011] In Dispatches, Michael Herr titles his first chapter ‘Inhale’, and his last ‘Exhale’. I’ve been thinking about that writing tactic a lot lately. The notion that this – all of it – is like some coiled spring or compression/decompression cycle. That it can only be made sense of   Read More …

26 December: Epulu Ranger Station, Democratic Republic of Congo.  But for the early arrival of the pygmies from yesterday, the morning would have started unremarkably. Yesterday’s thunderstorm delayed the trade in Ituri forest crafts, but this morning, they arrived with scores of necklaces made from forest nuts, small seeds and bark rope. Plus a musical instrument   Read More …

The Karoo is hot. Like fucking sun-massacred hot. The land where God hates the trees. She loves only the scrubby, fragrant bushes that refuse to die and the Orange river. The leviathan that cuts its way through the flat line of the horizon like an old boxer – no speed remains, only power.

[Taken from the Ugandan Journals]

In transit at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I bought a copy of Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk. I vacillated over the decision to buy it. Mostly because of not wanting to draw shillings from the ATM just for a book. In the end, of course, I would.

Returning is only over when you are back at a place you recognise as home, waking up in a bed that remembers how you like to spread out at night, for more than a week. By that yardstick, I’ll be home on Wednesday and you will get delicious audiovisual treatery soon after. For now, though, a brief storytelling interlude via some quick stats written on the dirtiest back pages of my journal.

Up at 04h30. In Entebbe airport by 06h00. On a plane by 08h30 and starting the long trek home. It’s all so managed. So clean. In your seat. Eat your meal. Listen to music or fall asleep for distraction. I feel awry in the whitespace. My clothes are filthy, and probably smell a little.

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