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September 30 , 2010

Africa Askew - Traversing the Continent


AFRICA ASKEW was in the Top Ten of the German Amazon Travel&Adventure section for almost a year.

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Peter Boehm travelled right across Africa, in speeding SUVs, rickety buses and dilapidated trains. He travelled for almost six months, over 6,000 miles, through nine countries – Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Senegal.

The journey was breathtaking and nerve-shattering, but never dull. The people he met were exciting, bizarre and pathetic, but they never leave you cold. In Somali, Peter Boehm describes psychiatrists who consider all their compatriots to be mad – as do the Somalis themselves and, in the end, even the author thinks he’s mad too! In Sudan, he meets doctors who re-seal women; in Chad there are street kids already sitting on their suitcases, awaiting the journey to Germany; in Mali he meets traditional healers who are, at the same time, GPs, best friends, and agony aunts; in Nigeria there are traditional leaders whose subjects throw themselves on the ground before them, and Islamic judges who savour the whippings they’ve ordered as one would a high-quality wine.

For good measure, Peter Boehm has kept a record of the troubles and transformations of a European in Africa.

Peter Boehm’s tone is laconic, and free of any sentimentality. You’ll never have read about Africa like this before.

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