7 books to read before traveling to Africa

Here we again underline the importance of understanding and learning about the behavior of wild animals to understand this complex continent.

We are reaching a point where, somehow, the healthy exercise of traveling is losing its essential ingredient: adventureCurrently, there are not many places on the map where things happen naturally. Almost everything is controlled, planned, anticipated, almost scripted. The truth is that there are fewer and fewer surprises in travel.

In that sense, the African continent still retains a certain capacity for adventure. It is an immense, spontaneous, exciting, wild territory. Great stories happen there. Its inimitable light, its overflowing nature, its complex culture and history, and the irreducible spirit of its people have been the setting for books on love, intrigue, drama, politics, nature, and even comedy. It is a land that encourages you to live and, consequently, to write.

If you are thinking of traveling to Africa, we suggest you read the following 12 books that will give you an inspiring point of view to get to know this wonderful piece of land in depth. They are stories of great writers who offer their personal, sincere, and always admired views of Africa. They are books that will undoubtedly increase the quality of your trip.

1. 'Africa', by Martin Meredith

That said: if your next trip is to Africa, for starters, it's well worth checking out this recent history book on how African nations began to gain independence from Europe in the mid-20th century. It will help you understand why things are the way they are there. It is a good drawing of how the situation has deteriorated in recent years. Faced with land with potential and a splendid future, we see how all of this has ultimately turned into poverty, hunger, corruption, and wars.

You will be immersed in the last fifty years of African history, in its pathetic circumstances, in a study as exciting as it is rigorous where, without forgetting the responsibility of the Western powers, the corrupt elites that emerged from Africa itself are also pointed out as promoters of your current disappointment.

2. 'Born Free', by Joy Adamson

This story -its original title is Born Free, or A lioness between two worlds, in the Latin American version- is based on real events: The ranger George Adamson and his wife Joy -the author- are forced to kill a pair of lions, but they decide to adopt their three orphaned puppies. Before long, two of them are transferred to zoos, but they keep the third lioness, whom they name Elsa.

They raise her and live with her -as if she were a member of their family- until she becomes an adult animal and they realize that they cannot keep her at home and that they have to teach her to survive in the wild and leave her alone. freedom as soon as possible. And so they do. A year later, when they return to the jungle to see the result, the lioness recognizes them in a scene that gives her goosebumps.

3. 'Married to adventure', by Osa Johnson

This is a totally adventurous book. As you read it, you jump from adventure to adventure. It is the memoir of a legendary married couple, Ona and Martin Johnson , who, in a way, were the inventors of nature documentaries.

Among other things, they were the first to record images from above of the great herbivore migrations of the Serengeti aboard a seaplane, they made a scientific expedition to the heart of Africa where they located Lake Paradise, they flew over Kilimanjaro or they put together the first documentary with sound in the Congo. The world was his home, more than 60,000 kilometers above the African jungles. In 1937, Martin died in a plane crash and she never got over it.

4. 'We want to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda

An essential book -I would say exceptional: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families- for anyone who decides to travel to Africa, but especially to RwandaThe real adventure of life in the genocide (more than 800,000 people were brutally killed in 15 days) that shook this country in 1993 and in which the rest of the world remained in an alarming state of passivity is narrated with all its crudeness. It is the dark side of humanity.

Fear, revenge, power, anger. Philip Gourevitch is the author of this contemporary journalism classic, winner of countless international awards including the Guardian First Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the George Polk Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

5. 'Gorillas in the mist', by Dian Fossey

There is no doubt that a trip to Africa is almost always closely linked to the world of animals. In fact, the safari is the main activity. But what do we really know about animals? This wildly popular play, made famous by its film version, shows how impressive it can be to interact with these animals - the gorillas - before you go and see them for yourself.

c -the original title- was published in 1983 and describes the observations and almost friendly relationship that zoologist Dian Fossey established with the gorillas of Rwanda. Two years later, her uncompromising defense of these animals of hers led to her being hacked to death in her cabin by poachers.

6. 'The Last Train to the Green Zone: My Ultimate African Safari

Paul Theroux is one of the best travel writers and, in this case, about Africa. He is an author who investigates, deepens, searches for the root of what is seen, and what is not. Here the idea is to repeat a trip he made about ten years ago (with the book The Black Star Safari, also recommended), where he travels along the West Coast, from Cape Town, South Africa, Namibia, and Angola to, in this second book I suggest, give it a new, fresh and modern look.

In part, it is a book of denunciation, indignant, where inequalities, famine, and social injustice are shown because Africa is not only that place where most people go to photograph exotic animals in the middle of an exuberant nature. Is much more.

7. 'West with the night', by Beryl Markham

If we go back a little in time, it is interesting to see what Africa was like in the last century. It was time for adventures. Precisely in that sense, this book is a magnificent source of information and inspiration. Basically, it is a classic about colonial Africa.

The text narrates thirty years of the life of Beryl Markham, one of the most exceptional women of the 20th century -she was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic alone from England to Canada-, and counts from her arrival in Africa at the age of four, his childhood on a farm in Kenya at the beginning of the last century, to his aviation job in the post office or his passion for raising and training horses.


Abdullahi Alimam

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