Author(s): Ryszard KapuścińskiDownload
Heban (bestseller 1998 i 1999 roku) to złożona z wielu wątków fascynujących, nowoczesna powieść-relacja z „ekspedycji” w głąb Czarnego Kontynentu, ukazująca Afrykę u progu XXI wieku, Afrykę rozdzieraną wojnami, głodem, epidemiami i korupcją.
Some Reviews: 844 in Goodreads.com
This is insightful prose written by a Polish journalist who spent years traveling around Africa (beginning in the 1950s). It is a collection of essays that follow Kapuscinski’s time spent in Africa; during coups, wars, racial tensions, hunger, starvation, sickness, and more. Though I didn’t love the parts of the book that seemed highly dramatized, what I really liked about this is that Kapuscinski gets into the experience, living it and detailing it. He’s not a removed journalist. In fact, this book reads like a great collection of stories. He talks about the racial tensions of that time, the distinctive culture of each country in Africa, the political climate, the people, the food, the terrain, and his own vulnerabilities. There is some sun, even with the shadow.
It is a book filled with details, vivid descriptions, dialect, and history, narrated with storytelling ease. It is the type of book which intertwines serious journalism with storytelling–very appealing.
Shifting seamlessly from vignettes of daily life to grand excursions into Africa’s turbulent political past, Kapuscinski zig-zags across vast expanses of scorching desert and lush greenery in this masterful piece of journalistic travel writing. He describes people, politics and landscape with equal ease. The lioness stalking in the tall grasses is as riveting as the utterly fascinating character study of Idi Amin.
The first chapter was studded with generalisations about Africa and Africans that made my inner anthropologist cringe, and is the main reason I am docking this book one star. I am pleased to note that he dropped the act soon afterward to delve into the swirling mass of stories he painstakingly picked from his decades of experience on the continent. He breathes in the poverty around him – its raw smells, its despairing, languishing presence. The chapter on Liberia, a country I knew very little about, was absolutely terrifying. Kapuscinski will zip you across the continent with dizzying alacrity and plunge you waist-deep into the lives of a scarcely known tribe: the Amba, the Kakwa, the Krahn. Child soldiers, genocide, and the spectre of death haunt these pages. My heart broke then broke again. The dusty, treacherous drives and the oppressive heat come alive. Flickering candlelight filled my bedroom and my throat ached with his maddening thirst. If you have ever been to Africa, this book will transport you back there. If not, this book offers some of the best armchair-travelling I’ve yet encountered.
“The Shadow of the Sun”, a set of stories by Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish journalist who travelled and lived in Africa numerous times between the 50s and the 90s, has definitely taught me humbleness and almost painfully exposed my ignorance of Africa.
After finishing the book I read that Kapuscinski had lived through 27 coups and revolutions, had been jailed 40 times and had survived 4 death sentences, however in this book you will not find a single hint of pride or a boasting word about his endurance. The book focuses on depicting African people, tribes and villages, everyday lives of those whom Kapuscinski met on his way, the history of their countries and his notion about their beliefs, traditions and cultures. Reading this book felt like leafing through an album full of colorful postcards of a faraway place: startlingly visual fragments of an alien reality, shocking at times, inviting at others, and always memorable.
Kapuscinski provides us with more questions than answers, provokes our curiosity, gives us just enough facts to start craving for more. These impressive fragments of such a distinct reality enrich us and at the same time make us perceive the vastness of the whole picture which is still uncovered, which is still unknown to us, distant, invisible and impenetrable.
I can only thank Kapuscinski for this lesson of humbleness and I am definitely looking forward to collecting some more pieces of this great picture called Africa.
This book takes you on an a whirlwind tour of Africa over the span of many years, many countries, and many different types of situations. The essays span the continent and quickly zoom the reader in and then back out of small incidents, large coups, nomadic wanderings, war lords, and everything (and everyone) in between.
I’ve never been able to get my mind around Africa. Its complexity both geographically and politically make it difficult to understand and internalize. In one respect the book doesn’t help resolve this. As a reader, I was never able linger anywhere long enough to overcome my ignorance. However, this technique also works in my favor as it allowed me to learn, absorb and move on without apology. Its now up to me to choose where to focus as I strive to learn more about Africa.
Kapuscinski said it best in the preface:
“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.”
Mr. K is the sort of intrepid traveler we’re used to reading about in tales of an earlier generation, the Burtons, Humboldts and Spekes of the world. He marks his year by the number of coups he witnesses and the number of death sentences rendered against him. In Shadow of the Sun, a collection of dispatches from around Africa, he manages to relate, in language worthy of Conrad and Maugham, both the beauty and the horror of Africa. It’s a stunning, enlightening and occasinally frightening smorgasbord of a book after which the reader can almost feel the overpowering heat and smell the boiling manioc.
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