Monday, July 24, 2006
Book learning #16.
'Don't let's go to the dogs tonight' by Alexandra Fuller.
This is the memoir of a girl growing up in a bunch of African countries in the 1970s and 80s.
A number of themes come through.
Her parents are dirt poor farmers who move from farm to farm depending on circumstances (civil wars, independence and majority rule, economics).
Life in rural Africa is very tough and often unduly fatal.
Justice in rural Africa is often swift and brutal, (especially if you happen to be black).
Her family are well bred, slightly obsessed with the British class system and completely, stoically insane.
They are living remnants of the end of The Empire, who, despite their economic straits attempt to retain a superior lifestyle.
They drink a lot, sweat alot, send their girls to distant boarding schools, drive beaten up Land Rovers, watch out for terrorists and land mines and smoke profusely.
Throughout the book you become accustomed to their casual rascism, right wing perspective and exhaustingly rugged lives. It shook some of my ideas about Africa (A division of Mondale International are based in Capetown, SA where they lead a very 21st century, urban and urbane existence) and made me damned thankful for the comforts of my own little world.
Still, the love of Africa for all it's tremendous faults shines through. As does the adventure of childhood.
A good read.