FROM THE PILLARS OF HERCULES TO THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR
(London: Simon & Schuster, 1994), pbk., pp. 404
Africa, where humanity first emerged, where civilization first developed, where the wilderness last remains, can teach us values which may still save humanity from their headlong rush to global madness and destruction. Light shines from the heart of Africa and can illuminate the darkness of the modern world.
Having lived and taught in West Africa as a young man, and having through his family become united with Africa, Peter Marshall decided in his forties to try and circumnavigate the vast continent.. Disregarding warnings that he would never make it and hitching lifts from whatever ship happened to be in port at the time, he found himself travelling on a wide variety of craft. These included a replica of a Portuguese caravel, a rusty Moroccan trawler, French, German, Italian and Greek container ships in different states of repair, a new Italian cruise ship, a sanctions-busting South African cargo ship, a state-of-the-art yacht and a traditional Swahili dhow.
Often stranded or deliberately jumping ship, Marshall went deep into the interior of many countries, spending time with village drummers in Senegal, pygmies in the rainforest of Cameroon, political activists in the cities of South Africa, civil-war refugees in Mozambique, lions and rhinos in the highlands of Tanzania, spice pickers in Zanzibar, the ghosts of the pharaohs in Egypt, the traders in the souks of Tunisia and Morocco. Among many other fascinating characters, he met Walter Sisulu, the ‘father of the nation’ in South Africa, Dr Zawi Hawass, the director of antiquities at the Giza pyramids in Egypt, and Mohamed Amin, Africa’s leading front-line cameraman in Kenya.
Seven months later, Marshall managed to make it back to Europe, having visited fifteen countries and travelled nearly 18,000 miles on a dozen ships through four seas. The challenging journey, full of unexpected delights and difficulties, proved a voyage of self-discovery as well as the discovery of a continent. And contrary to general belief and for all its well-known troubles, Peter Marshall found bright light streaming out of the heart of Africa.
Around Africa is an exciting and thoughtful tale, a rich kaleidoscope of ships, people, cultures, places and adventures.