by Frank T Kyrza.
A couple of weeks ago I finished reading the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara
Kingsolver. A story of an American family in Africa (Congo/Zaire) around
1946. If I have to come up with some keywords of this book, africa would
certainly be one of them, and so would the word 'poverty'.
This book, The race for Timbuktu, africa is certainly a keyword, but so is
wealth. The book is set in the early 19th century (a century before the Kingsolver-book)
and tells the story of two British explorers trying to find the city of Timbuktu.
No westerners have set foot in this city yet, and the city holds a promise
of wealth, gold, luxery and wisdom.
All the kings, tribe-leaders or sultans mentioned in the book own big
palaces, lot's of wives, slaves or camels. Or all of these things.
Earned by slave- or salttrade and goldmining.
The explorers used two routes to find the city: the first one is leaving
from the north, from Tripoli, crossing the Sahara. (the
illustration is inspired by this route) the other route is via the coast
of Ghana, Benin, cross the jungle and travel up north.
The explorers cross several kingdoms, meet many different tribes and all of
them are violent towards eachother and to strangers. It was
weird to read those stories because currently in the same area the violence between
muslims, tuaregs and the authorities caused chaos and war, and led to
thousands of people fleeing their homes. (Maybe today's problem has it's roots hundreds of years ago?)
There is one scene in the book that stuck in my mind, and is pictured in
the illustration, a war-weapon in those times was to catch a vulture,
attach cotton to its feet, set the cotton on fire, let the bird go and
wait till his feathers catch fire. Eventually he'll fall down and by doing
so set the villages of the enemy on fire.
So I learned loads, history wise but also new words. It was not an easy
read, I had to keep the Oxford Dictionary close at hand. But I learned loads of
new words: Impunity, pungent, petulant, evasive. To mull over.
It was an interesting book, wrapped up in an exciting story, and there
even is a little love story......
but now I can't wait for an 'easy' fiction story again. Some one promised
me the new Kingsolver, in dutch, that will be a nice and easy read.... maybe more
snow? so I can sit next to my heater some more evenings and read read
Have a good weekend.
(and a link to the website of the publisher.)