By Al J.Venter and friends
Protea Boekhuis, 2013
Al Venter regards himself an African – a ‘white’ African, but as much a part of the fascinating and often troubled continent on which he was born as his Zulu and Swahili speaking contemporaries. There is no country in Africa that he has not visited. During his half-century career as a foreign correspondent, working for media outlets on four continents, he has given his version of unfolding events from many of them, for, inter alia, Britain’s Jane’s Information Group, the Daily Express and Daily Mail of London, United Press International, Geneva’s Interavia, the BBC, SABC, NBC (radio), as well as scores of magazines. His love for Africa stems in part from his childhood. At the age of 14 - while on vacation in what was then still Northern Rhodesia - he hitched-hiked back to boarding school in Johannesburg in a race with his schoolmates who travelled by train. And he won. Seven years later, after completing three-years in the navy, he explored East Africa and ended up in Mombasa in Kenya and cadged a lift on a freighter to Canada. Then, after qualifying professionally in London, he travelled overland through West Africa all the way to London.
Along the way he met many notables – including Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and the man who hosted Graham Greene at his derelict hotel in Liberia – then all but an American colony, where the ‘greenback’ was the official currency – as well as the great Dr Albert Schweitzer. The author spent a week at his jungle clinic at Lambarane in Gabon.Venter includes many of these adventures in this new book.
He also delves into some of his military adventures and has invited several of his old colleagues to add some of their thoughts to this bundle of travel, adventure and excitement to create a remarkable insight to a continent that, though briefly ‘tamed’ by Europe, was never really subjugated. In that anomaly too, there lies many a stirring yarn.