Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review "Adventures in Africa" by Gianni Celati

Adventures in Africa by Gianni Celati is a quick read at 170 pages and written as journal entries from notebooks while visiting Mali, Senegal, and Mauritania in 1997. The author and his friend, Jean, come to Africa to try to arrange to film a documentary, but the story is more about their interactions with the locals as tourists or white foreigners. The duo ultimately fail in their attempts to set up the documentary and spend most of their time being mobbed by children and merchants hawking their goods and services.

I found the book interesting in the author's reflections on being a tourist and how the locals interact with him and other tourists. He makes fun of the tourists that dress in safari gear or shorts (only children wear shorts in the local culture) and contrasts them with the locals who wear torn tshirts and ragged pants. The author also frequently remarks that the white tourist with money is like a continuation of colonialism and the African and the tourist are never on equal terms. The book is never deep but helped me prepare myself mentally for my upcoming travels in Africa.