Granta 48: Africa

by Bill Buford (Editor)

Paperback, 1994





Granta Books (1994)


A celebration of the musical diversity of South AFrica, from Afro-jazz and township jive to mbaqanga and Afropop.

User reviews

LibraryThing member deebee1
This volume came out in the mid-1990s when the continent was just emerging from a very dark phase - the genocide in Rwanda, the end of the civil war in Angola, the war in Liberia. We feel once more, through the articles, the pain, the desolation, the wretchedness, the hunger, the terror, the fear,
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the hate, the brutality that took over many people and many places in the continent during those dark years. Contributors include Paul Theroux who writes about a leper community, Ryszard Kapuscinski about Ethiopia, and excerpts from a speech by Nelson Mandela talking of the African Renaissance.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
I spent the first four months or so of 2010 travelling through Africa, beginning in Ghana and finishing in South Africa. I felt the heat of the equatorial region, and marvelled at the briefest twilights I'd ever experienced (day becomes night in almost the blink of an eye when you're around the
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equator). I felt the sun pounding down on me so hard I couldn't breathe, and I felt what remained of my breath taken from me by the magnificent things I saw. The people I met were wonderful - welcoming, curious about my adventure, and for the most part proud of who they were and where they came from. Since that time I have taken a huge amount of satisfaction from reading about the continent - though I must say that to really get the most from the literature of this amazing corner of the earth, it truly does help to have been there.

But if you have not, it helps to have a guide. Granta 48 is full of such guides, people to take you in hand and show you around their Africa. This collection of short pieces - some fiction, including by William Boyd, and some travel writing, including by Ryszard Kapuscinski - is a brilliant introduction, and will have you hungry for more.
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LibraryThing member thorold
The real highlight of this issue was a clever culture-clash story by William Boyd about an African film director who accidentally gets entangled in the Hollywood machine. There's also a nice short piece of fiction by Ahdaf Soueif, but for the rest it's all grim journalistic accounts of coups,
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genocide and starvation. Ryszard Kapuściński's thoughtful piece on Ethiopia after the fall of Mengistu and Lynda Schuster's first-hand view of the end of the Doe regime in Liberia stand out here, as do Gilles Peress's photographs from Rwanda. But it's not obvious why Paul Theroux's silly account of his student visit to a leper colony in Malawi got included: it's essentially a cut-price version of A burnt-out case, but with more inappropriate sex.

This was the year of the South African elections, but there are only two quite minor references to that: A Mandela speech to the OAU which looks bland and content-free when it's put down on paper (it probably didn't seem like that in the hall), and William Finnegan's report on the elections in Western Cape, where the paradox was that the Coloured majority were so afraid of what the ANC might do that they voted in their long-time oppressors, the National Party.

Strange that an issue focussed on "Africa" should have a majority of American and British contributors.
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