Dervla Murphy's journal of her cycle tours of South Africa in 1994 gives a day-by-day view of that period. When Dervla first pedalled across the Limpopo she fancied that she "understood" South Africa's problems because for more than 40 years she had - from a distance - taken an interest in them. Twelve hours later that illusion was shattered. This ...
Dervla Murphy's journal of her cycle tours of South Africa in 1994 gives a day-by-day view of that period. When Dervla first pedalled across the Limpopo she fancied that she "understood" South Africa's problems because for more than 40 years she had - from a distance - taken an interest in them. Twelve hours later that illusion was shattered. This text reflects her moods of confusion and elation, hope and disappointment as she tries to come to terms with a country even more complex and fractured - but also more flexible - than she had expected. The journey of more than 6000 miles took her through all nine provinces of the new South Africa. As the months passed she came to realize how simplistic it is to see South Africa's conflict as only "black versus white".
Publishers Weekly, 1999-05-24 In her latest travelogue, Murphy (Muddling Through in Madagascar) documents her 6000-mile trek through South Africa's nine provinces between 1993 and 1995. The post-apartheid South Africa she sees is characterized by violence, racial tension and economic uncertainty?circumstances, indicates Murphy, not unlike those occurring in her own Northern Ireland. Forsaking such comforts as automobiles and hotels, the 60-something Murphy opts instead to travel by bicycle, stopping off at municipal watering holes, campgrounds and, when the invitations arise, private homes. Such intrepid wanderlust gives her the opportunity to speak with a cross-section of South Africans, from unemployed black miners to wealthy white Afrikaners. However, Murphy speaks only English among South Africa's 11 official languages. This fact obviously limits whom she speaks to and, similarly, what people are able to communicate to her. She makes up for this shortcoming by listening closely to what she can understand and by making the most of her visual observations. Early in the book, she shows self-awareness by acknowledging the wisdom of a black man who tells her, "...you should know as a white you're intruding here.... It's not a zoo for tourists to see how `natives' live." Fortunately, Murphy's curiosity allows her to insightfully, if occasionally intemperately, relate her many experiences, from witnessing the frenzied crowds celebrating Nelson Mandela's 1994 presidential inauguration to observing a summer's day mob attack on a young girl to eating Christmas Day dinner at a prison. Rights: John Murray Publishers. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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