60 Africa Books Reading Challenge discussion

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Town to Town Travel (towntotowntravel) | 6 comments Mod
Not only needing the adventurous and courageous spirit of a traveler, Salak also required the physical fitness and stamina to complete the goal at hand - a 600 mile paddle down the Niger River to Timbuktu.

Kira Salak is very observational on her travels and as she feels all the feelings of joy and frustration on her journey she shared it all with us. From the exhilaration of starting the journey into the unknown, to the hardship, frustration, physical pain, and despair, to the final sprint, the exultation of completing the challenge set for herself and the strength she felt. She did express some flashes of western impatience but always tried to bring herself back to center and calm.

It was interesting to learn about the Tuareg and how she describes them as the leisure class of Mali who do no domestic work and maintain slaves for that purpose. With this extra time, they've enhanced their Music Culture.

I would disagree with her disbursement of cash when it seemed to be for no apparent reason. She gets angry when people ask for money yet she is (secretly) exacerbating the problem.

1. What did you think about the different tribal villages along the river and the unknown reception she’d receive from each village?

2. Do you think the slave girls “started a business” or do you think they got sucked back into a dehumanizing situation?


message 2: by Claudia (new)

Claudia G | 7 comments What struck me most about this book was the diverse village encounters Salak experienced and how similar they were to Parks so many years earlier. I felt her terror as she debated where to take shelter on various nights - and also her relief when it was a welcoming hospitable village. I learned some interesting facts from this book about the region, like that Djenne was the site of the largest mud mosque in the world and that in that area men are allowed 4 wives.

Some bits of information were absolutely shocking- I never realized how prevalent slavery is in that area in present day! Also the standardization of female genital mutilation just seems too horrific to be true-too bad that isn't the case.

The best part of the book for me was the ending. And not to spoil it for any future readers-I will say that it made her journey, the hardships she experienced and the determination to see it to the end, all worth while.


message 3: by Cara (new)

Cara Sullivan | 11 comments Mod
This was an interesting read. We follow the author on her boat trip through different villages and encounters with locals. It was interesting she chose to follow in the footsteps of prior explorers who never reached their destination, although she had a boat rendezvous every few days, for much of the journey she was very much alone. The culmination of her encounters and insights into the country ended with a shocking revelation about present day realities for some locals. In reading Salak's journey, I not only learned about the culture but also forced a great deal of introspection about the cultural divide that exists in America and Mali.


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