FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Africa does not exist."

    Following is the foreword by the author of the book I am beginning.  The book is The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski.  He was Poland's first Africa correspondent and reported from Africa at the time of their emerging independence.   

  " I've lived in Africa for several years.  I first went there in 1957.  Then, over the next 40 years I returned whenever the opportunity arose.  I traveled extensively, avoiding official routes, palaces, important personages, and high-level politics.  Instead, I opted to hitch rides on passing trucks, wander with nomads through the desert, be the guest of peasants of the tropical savannah.  Their life is endless toil, a torment they endure with astonishing patience and good humor.
         This is therefore not a book about Africa, but rather about some people from there--about encounters with them, and time spent together.  The continent is too large to describe.  It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos.  Only, with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say "Africa."  In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist."

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