North of South: An African Journey (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
North of South: An African Journey (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin).
said. “Many actually prefer to be beggars and prostitutes in Nairobi than to earn an honest living from the soil. They consider it to be beneath their dignity.” She pursed her lips. The pluckers smiled and saluted as they shuffled past with their loads. Mrs. Palmer’s scarf snapped like a flag as she surveyed the beasts of burden who marched past her. They could, with luck, earn up to a pound a day. “I know it sounds appallingly little by English standards,” Mr. Palmer said. “But by their
hundred years before, Malindi had been the first Swahili town to give Vasco da Gama a friendly welcome on his voyage to India. “Our joy was great,” Camões wrote in his great epic The Lusiads, “to come at last on a people that knew the art of navigation… They were Negroes too, but apparently they had dealings with some more civilized race, and in their speech an occasional word of Arabic was recognizable.” Here the Portuguese rested and repaired their ships. “The pagan king was at pains to give
off his or her own labor and use no one else as an instrument for gaining his or her livelihood. “Nobody should go and stay for a long time with his relative, doing no work, because in doing so he will be exploiting his relative. Likewise, nobody should be allowed to loiter in towns or villages without doing work which would enable him to be self-reliant without exploiting his relation…” Then follows one of those thought-numbing passages so characteristic of this kind of exhortatory rhetoric: “If
people, came to see me, and said that they were sent by Tiggity Sego for my present, and wished to see what goods I had appropriated for that purpose. I knew that resistance was hopeless, and complaint unavailing… I quietly offered him seven bars of amber and five of tobacco. After surveying these articles for some time very coolly, Demba laid them down, and told me this was not a present for a man of Tiggity Sego’s consequence, who had it in his own power to take whatever he pleased from me…
construct a socialist society and to break away from the grip of world capitalism… let us produce books!” Abstraction is linked to mindless abstraction. The formal, faceless universe of socialist algebra takes shape on the messily printed pages of the Daily News: symbols symbolizing everything in general and nothing in particular. There are no classes, in the sophisticated Marxist sense, in Tanzania—only peasants, Party officials and aid workers. Class struggle, since it does not exist, has to be