Blood River by Tim Butcher

I started this book with great anticipation. I had been to Uganda the year before and although she is only a neighbouring country it was surprising how different yet how similar our experiences had been. Different, in the sense of language and infrastructure, but the same in regards to the smaller aspects such as food and Swahili phrases. I got excited when he described things that I had forgotten such as eating cassava, million fish and the constant screeching of the phrase, “Muzungu!” by the younger children.

What I loved about this book was the fact that in no way was it another book depicting the plight of the indigenous peoples of Africa. It was well written with historical analysis weaved into his travel from one side of the Congo to the other.

One striking thing he wrote was describing the source of the Congo’s problems as he sees it,

I can think of no concept more abused in modern Africa than sovereignty…While outsiders led by Stanley can be blamed for creating this situation, the people of Africa must share responsibility for showing themselves unable to change it.

But it what Johnny, one of the last people he met on his journey that really painted the picture:

People who say there is no money in Africa is talking [rubbish]…I have seen with my own eyes that there has always been plenty of money, whether it’s for diamonds, cobalt, safari hunting, whatever…If you think you can solve Africa’s problems with money, then you are a…fool.

Johnny goes on to describe the only way that will set Africa in good stead, but you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This was an amazing book, I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in Africa or who has been to Africa. How much is it portrayed in the media that money will save Africa? Well, according to the Congolese people, money will only cause greater problems.

From beginning to end Butcher writes in such a way that it captures your interest and curiosity. Go read it and add a comment here!

Rating: *****

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