The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries
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The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  34 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Laced with danger, packed with novel insights and told with a humane voice, The Ringtone and the Drum relates the fascinating tale of Mark Weston’s travels in West Africa. His journey through Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso touches a dizzying array of subjects, including the consequences of civil war, mounting religious strife and the challenges of globalisati...more
ebook, 367 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by John Hunt Publishing
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Friederike Knabe
Mark Weston's The Ringtone and the Drum is much more than your usual travel account. For one, who would want to travel to the three of the poorest countries in West Africa "unless they had to"? An experienced policy analyst and researcher of international affairs and develeopment processes, Weston wanted to experience up close and personal what it would be like to spend six months among the locals, living as closely as possible to the way they have to live: few amenities, such as water, electric...more
Judy
West Africa 101

Traveler's advisories or not, there is no way I will ever travel through West Africa. My idea of a breathtaking travel adventure is to negotiate the Madrid airport without a cell phone or facility with the Spanish language. Lucky for me then that Mark Weston (and his amazing, indefatigable wife Ebrun!) has done it for me.

Mr. Weston makes sense of West Africa. He sheds light on that which seems dark and overwhelming in its complexity and foreignness. He's eyes on the ground in plac...more
Jarrod Scarbrough
I won this on Goodreads Giveaways!

This was quite a gem! Mr. Weston writes candidly about his travels in West Africa, and not from a tourist viewpoint of what animals you'll see and the swankiest hotels, but an up close and personal account of what life is like for the people living in these nations. These are arguably the poorest nations in the world (Guinea-Bissau doesn't even have a power company, relying solely on generators for the little bits of power they have), and this book paints a pict...more
Unwisely
This was a "wandering around the library" pick. The English author and his wife go to live in Western Africa to experience it and write about it - they're not exactly budget travelers, but they also aren't doing anything in particular.

It was an interesting description of places I'll probably never go (Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso.) He is a sympathetic author, but also digs into roots of problems - historical population disruptions due to slavery, weak institutions, corruption....more
Alice
This author writes with knowledge and sympathy about a part of the world that is largely unknown and widely feared. He spends enough time in all three countries (Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso) to get to know some of the people and write about everyday life for the inhabitants. A great read if you want to learn more about the really poor countries of West Africa. I had hoped for an analysis of how foreign aid could be improved (given the author's background), but that wasn't inclu...more
Cheryl
I learnt so much from this book about the current situation of ordinary people in some of the poorest countries in West Africa. It's hard to categorise as it is part travel writing and partly socio-economic commentary. It is definitely worth reading and is one of the best books I've read in the last 12 months. Mark writes beautifully and it left me want to read more of his work.
Mig
Informative read about a less traveled region. At first, I was a little annoyed at the "Mother Africa" rhetoric. However I found that Weston's approach to the subject was just amazing and well balanced. His experience in international development as well as a sensitivity to the complexity of these countries won me over. Great read.
Julia
Absolutely fabulous book. Interesting, informative, not too dry, but a great overview of west African culture, history an d politics. Couldnt put it down as good as Ryzard Kapucinski.
Felicity
Great insight into 3 countries we know so little about. Much that resonates all over Africa. Author was refreshingly candid.
Stephen
Fascinating and informative read about people living in some of the poorest countries in the world.
Tripfiction
"Juju*, guilt and so much more in West Africa"

"West Africa is nobody's idea of a dream holiday destination" - so opens The Ringtone and the Drum by Mark Weston; Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and and Guinea-Bissau are the world's poorest countries. Mark's wife Ebru is persuaded to accompany him on this trip, to a part of the world where you can neither retreat into the comfortable cocoon of a Western hotel chain to get a breather, nor is detachment possible - your physical and psychological distance...more
Clarke
Great easy read. A travelogue with cultural & historical context as well. I learned a lot about countries which are rarely mentioned in the west, other than when war breaks out. Of the three countries, now 1-2 are on my want to travel to list, the other has a lot of baggage which I don't want to deal with.
Leo Zeilig
Africa is maligned in the media, almost exclusively written about using racial clichés is prone to terrible stereotypes about "Africans". No continent or people are so appallingly categorised into absurdist generalisations. This book is different. The Ringtone and the Drum is part travelogue, part history of West Africa. At the end of his travels Weston suffered a minor breakdown, overcome by the poverty around him and his inability to make a difference. The author's concern and sensitivity for...more
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Mark Weston is a policy adviser and writer on international development. He has lived in South Africa, Ghana and India, and has worked with some of the world’s leading academics and development agencies. He is the author of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries, described by Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail, Canada, as "a truly engaging and informative book that pr...more
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