Dark Star Safari: Overland From Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux (Penguin 2003)

Neil's picture

Paul Theroux returns to Africa 40 years after living in Uganda and Malawi and reports on current conditions there. He both loves and hates Africa, and has a lot to love and hate while travelling overland, mostly by train, through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and finally South Africa, It's an epic journey, full of delays and complications, but Theroux is nothing if not a capable traveller, and he writes well about local characters, other travellers and the landscape. He is particularly annoyed by Western well-meaning but mis-directed aid programmes, which he describes as having a detrimental impact over a long period, and that by and large, little progress has been made in the years since he last lived there. This is a stirring and moving book.