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I’m Not Going There…#Trust30 Writing Prompt 4

07 Jun

If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

The question is really where don’t I want to go? Africa and only Africa.

I don’t want to go to this continent with its random violence and strange diseases, with its unrelenting heat and choking dust. Africa, the seat of all humanity, holds no appeal for me. I do not need to go upriver into the heart of darkness. I do not need a farm in Africa. I do not need to see the Congo or Cairo, Niger or Nairobi.

That’s what literature is for. I have read Alexandra Fuller’s memoir about growing up in Rhodesia, Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight, and poured over Joseph Conrad’s depiction of the Belgian Congo in Heart of Darkness. I’ve read Boyhood about JM Cotzee’s childhood under Apartheid in South Africa and The Poisonwood Bible, a fictional account of missionaries in the Congo written by Barbara Kingsolver. What Is the What showed me about Sudan’s lost boys (a historically accurate portrait portrayed in fiction by David Eggers) and Nadine Gordimer depicted with uncanny accuracy what the end of Apartheid would look like in her 1981 novel, July’s People.

Arm chair travel

I cannot smell the land or hear the sounds of dissonant languages, taste the flavors of spice and wood smoke. I will never know exactly how it feels to ride on a crowded bus (with windows that open only part way) as it wends its way through a city filled with signs only written in Arabic or Afrikaans. But for me, it is enough and it is made possible by literature.

What do books do for you?


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3 Responses

  1. Shelby says:

    I feel this way about China, with its pollution and spitting and mobs of people in buses at every attraction. I just read Lost on Planet China. I do want to go to Africa, to see the amazing wildlife in the wild. I watched a LOT of Wild Kingdom. :-)

  2. Katrina Hays says:

    Oh, come ON! Never to see a wild gorilla? Lions? ELEPHANTS? Clearly, I will have to go by myself.

    But-if you want to go to Dubai, you’re on your own.

  3. Funny. Huysmans makes this case in Against Nature, also translated is Against the Grain… that no one should go anywhere, just sit and read. :D

    I protested against What is the What. Something about that bugged me…it seemed insulting to Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, etc. Why not read actual accounts by actual lost boys, instead of some white boy’s version? At least Gordimer has some creds. And Kingsolver I found wholly predictable. Otherwise, I’m with you. As for me, I do not want to go to Hawaii. I don’t even want to read a book about it. It sounds too pretty and bland.

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