Living with Livingstone et al

Home now is a 1970’s bungalow surrounded by sand and aphid infested fruit trees on the shabby periphery of a small dusty town in the middle of nowhere. Ironic that my first experience of suburban living in Africa should also be my most isolated.  Local people say that though the Outpost isn’t actually at the end of the earth, you can see the end of the earth from it.

It has a rich history, though, coloured by Arab slavers (whose legacy includes the tallest mango trees I have ever seen); Henry Morton Stanley (who had a house here), Dr David Livingstone (who bought another, from the slavers, in his bid to halt their cruel trade), the Germans (who built a fort which still stands and a vast guest house for a visiting Kaiser which is now a kitsch hotel) and the colonial British administrators.  Its heyday importance was the result of its strategic geography; it grew up around a key railway junction.  The hoot of dozens of trains intrude my dreams.  And, when I fall asleep again, I am woken by the 5 am muezzin, a sound which the local dogs feel compelled to augment. On Sunday the cacophony is supplemented by the jangle of church bells, as if to prove this microscopic community applauds religious tolerance.

But for all its historical and cultural flamboyance, for its past superiority as an administrative regional capital, the Outpost has been forgotten by time and politics and African Development so that there are no plans to surface the almost 100 miles of rutted dirt road that leads to it from the national highway that runs south east to north west.  As a result, there is little traffic, just hundreds and hundreds of bicycles that weave tree lined avenues, precariously laden with sacks of rice and babies strapped to backs.

Perhaps its inaccessibility – for now at least – guarantees its charm?











3 Responses to “Living with Livingstone et al”

  1. Gorilla Bananas Says:

    David Livingstone! Do they make men like him these days?

  2. Carolyn Says:

    How lovely.

    Mix up some garlic spray with stacks of garlic, some water and a wee bit of liquid soap and let it soak for a couple of days before putting it on the fruit trees – that’ll get rid of those dastardly aphids!

  3. Equiano Says:

    Oooh, I should try that aphid mix – we have them on our fennel, for some reason.

    I am green with envy about your move – hope you will be very, very happy there.

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