Bill Bryson's African Diary PDF Ù Bill Bryson's Epub
In 2002, CARE International invited Bill Bryson on an eight day trip to tour its humanitarian work in Kenya with him writing it up into this, Bill Bryson s African Diary something of a misnomer as Bryson only visits Kenya The entire proceeds of the short book will go to help the kinds of people depicted inside it and it s a wonderful read too As you would expect, the horrors of the country s widespread poverty aren t ignored as Bryson visits Kibera, a shanty town on the outskirts of Kenya s capital city Nairobi, with a population of between 700,000 and 1 million people The conditions are appalling and thousands are HIV positive and yet the place officially doesn t exist and is ignored by the Kenyan government He also visits a refugee camp where the people there are stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, stateless, just existing, with little chance of a future But the book isn t all a sobering guilt trip as Bryson also takes in the wonders of the Kenyan National Museum which houses 500 of the roughly 5000 fossilized human bones in existence, and Olorgasailie, an area where early humans made tools for a million years There are also gently humorous passages in Bryson s inimitable style involving the dangerous and poorly maintained railways and the nightmare of flying in a light aircraft during a storm The most interesting and inspiring part was seeing a bank called Wedco give loans to develop small businesses, helping give some of these people a shot at a real life that they wouldn t have without it And the small village of Ogongo Tir where CARE installed a new well for them but gave them responsibility over it underlining that, while they need a hand to get the ball rolling, the people there want to take control of their own destinies rather than depend forever on the West I hesitate to use the word but Bill Bryson s African Diary is entertaining, as well as informative, with Bryson serving as a genial conduit to learning about CARE International and its outstanding work in Kenya It s a quick read but a memorable and moving one with an excellent cause at its heart well worth picking up especially as the purchase price goes to help these people s lives become a little better. In the early fall of 2002, famed travel Writer Bill Bryson journeyed to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world He arrived with a set of mental images of Africa gleaned from television broadcasts of low budget Jungle Jim movies in his Iowa childhood and a single viewing of the film version of Out of Africa Also with some worries about tropical diseases, insects and large predators But the vibrant reality of Kenya and its people took over the second he deplaned in Nairobi, and this diary records Bill Bryson s impresssions of his trip with his inimitable trademark style of wry observation and curious insight From the wrenching poverty of the Kibera slum in Nairobi to the meticulously manicured grounds of the Karen Blixen house and the human fossil riches of the National Museum, Bryson registers the striking contrasts of a postcolonial society in transition He visits the astoundingly vast Great Rift Valley undergoes the rigors of a teeth rattling train journey to Mombasa and a hair whitening flight through a vicious storm and visits the refugee camps and the agricultural and economic projects where dedicated CARE professionals wage noble and dogged war against poverty, dislocation and corruption. CARE, an international aid agency headquartered in the UK, asked Bill Bryson to visit their Kenyan operation and write about it Somewhere along the lines the idea changed to include publishing a book and using all profits as a donation to charity, with a small amount of the 12 cover price used for printing and distribution costs Most of the participants were volunteering their time.Sounds like a great idea, right Except, the book itself is disappointing It s a novelette It s 40 pages in an undersized book with big margins About 90% of the content is him worrying about dying in the trains, planes and automobiles that might crash along his journey Only about 10% covered actual Kenyan life and country Almost no history was included in complete contrast to the book I read prior, In a Sunburned Country It s not that it s badly written but it could have been so much better He visits a refugee camp and barely talks about it for a paragraph, while devoting three pages to the airplane flight back He visits a micro lending organization and spends a sentence talking about his interaction with the borrowers Ironically, he praises a local Kenyan farmer growing non indigenous crops, the same action he highly criticized in In a Sunburned Country for damaging the Australian outback.This was a great idea under executed And it s a shame, because I think had it been done right, say trade the hard cover for an additional 40 50 pages of content, and this would have been great Having a better story would have sold books making even money for the charity I ll give him a C for Charity, but a D for leaving the real story out of the book Bill short changed himself, Kenya, and CARE by pulling his punches in the name of charity. I feel like an asshole for not giving this stars I am an enormous Bill Bryson fan I ve read everything else he has published with the exception of Shakespeare The World as Stage which I m starting tonight Unfortunately, this sort of wasn t a Bill Bryson book It was a Bill Bryson journal entry It was only 49 pages, and because it was done for charity, it was overly sincere It almost completely lacked Bryson s signature humor He normally has such a colorful way of describing things that I even enjoyed his science book, A Short History of Nearly Everything This was like 49 pages of Kenya is a real shithole and the people need help Nevertheless, I wish I was able to give it stars, because I just like him so much, and because it is for charity So, you know, go spend the money so it goes to CARE, but don t expect to spend than an hour with it, and don t expect the kind of laughs I can still conjure up just by thinking of certain scenes in A Walk in the Woods. This is not really a book It is Bill Bryson s Diary about his 8 day trip to Kenya with CARE international It s just 55 pages long I got it from the library due to being interested in charity work I found it odd that it was in the library in the first place as it is not for profit and all the proceeds go to CAREsurely having a copy in the library defeats this purpose.anywayContent wise, it was okay but limited The descriptions of the slums and various people Bryson met were interesting but there was not enough proper detail due to the limited writings He also describes other experiences at length e.g taking a trip on a light aircraft I found his descriptions of these experiences over dramatisedfrequently referring to the likelihood of death etc..There was the odd swearword but for a non Christian book it wasn t too bad I found myself wondering what the purpose really was in writing this book It reminded me again of the tragedy of offering help without hope The author wonders what else can be done for these people, many of whom are refugees and he comments that they have no hope for the future He doesn t realise the significance of his observations, but reading that as a Christian, his words jumped off the page.There can be no future hope without the saving message of Jesus and freedom from sin This is a pretty short travelogue a week s diary written as part of an initiative from CARE to bring in visibility and focus to the enormous challenges being faced in Africa, and the stellar work that CARE and similar organisations are doing Kudos to the thought behind this initiative, inventive and world wise enough to know the innovative channels to tap to bring in the much needed publicity I m not going to be patting the backs of Bryson and the publishers too much, because no profit doesn t mean that all costs were borne by themselves CARE would have still had to pay for all the expenses of the tour and the printing costs , and the no profit tag is being applied only financially.About the book itself, it started off breezily in Bryson esque fashion, and has enough Bryson isms thrown in, in terms of facts, numbers, large picture observations, that could be me thinking that thoughts, and self effacing humour There is nothing of the touristy Kenya that I anticipated, with the trip sticking to the various camps and places that CARE is working upon However, just when I was settling in a bit, the book ended, leaving me to get off the table with just the appetizers served.So, don t expect Bryson writing about game drives in Masai Mara and watching flamingos in Lake Nakuru, or the typical Bryson research into the fantastic work being carried out, or any comprehensive write up about the history of the camps, challenges and way forward The intent is purely to provide a glimpse at what CARE does, without getting into much detailing, and it sure does its job, as it pushed me into doing a bit online reading about it. I have enjoyed reading Bryson s travel books He has a lovely sense of humor and he is knowledgeable I started reading this book looking forward to the author s impressions of Africa Actually, I was keen to see how it compares with Paul Theroux s views on the same continent But, what a disappointment First of all, it is just a diary of a few days travel in Kenya, that too just a few hundred kilometers out of Nairobi, all on the benevolence of a charity organization which hired him to write some nice propaganda material for them To call it an African Diary is misrepresentation On top of it, it is just a pamphlet running into 49 pages, but costing a whopping 11.99 for its kindle edition In the interest of his own admiring readers, the author should have mentioned in the cover that it was a journey paid and supported by CARE, one of the many charities working in Africa It does not matter that he took no money to produce this piece of work or whether CARE is a great charity organization In any case, the booklet is of dubious quality, something that does not do justice to Bryson s reputation He visits a large slum outside Nairobi called Kibare and writes about its inhabitants that they will undergo any hardship in order that their children will have a better life Not exactly a new finding, one might think He also flies to Dadaab, near the Somali border, to visit a refugee camp of 134000 Somalis for a day In between, he manages to visit the National Museum to view some of the rare early human remains which are housed there, followed by visits to the Karen Blixen house and the Rift Valley.The author steps into some controversial territory in this booklet by batting for charity outfits like CARE, Oxfam and Save the Children with the following statements If anyone ever tries to suggest to you that donor money sent to Africa goes into African despots pockets, you must poke them in the eye Money given to aid agencies like CARE goes straight into projects There is a lot of research which shows that nowadays, many charities, NGOs, the UNHCR are all actually businesses chasing the vast billions of donor money that is available and that their first aim is to perpetuate and grow themselves Michael Maren, who spent nineteen years in Africa in Kenya, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Ethiopia reporting on the famine, civil war and military conflicts in the region, is on record severely criticising the role of CARE, Save the Children and the UNHCR as self serving enterprises, where these organizations care less about the victims of famine and civil war and about their own organizational interests Even Paul Theroux, who spent many years in Africa on multiple trips, is a severe critic of these aid organizations as doing much harm in the name of development In fact, even the author s own account confirms these impressions inadvertently The CARE representative who accompanies Bryson to Dadaab, says, It is a fundamental part of aid protocol that you cannot make conditions better for refugees than they are for their hosts outside the camps It wouldn t be fair and it would breed resentment Everyone would then want to be a refugee So, you can only do so much The Kenyan govt would not allow permanent improvements to the slums of Kibera because it would then encourage others to move in there, making it larger Even in the refugee camps at Dadaab, the Kenyan govt would not relocate the 134000 Somalis to Nairobi or Mombasa to look for work and livelihood and become self sufficient So, the refugees are struck in Dadaab because they can t go back to Somalia either due to the civil war In both Kibera and Dadaab, the outcome is to keep the status quo the slum dwellers to remain as slum dwellers and the refugees to remain as refugees, which lets charity organizations to endlessly ask for money from donors to continue supporting them It is something like pharmaceutical companies preferring chronic diseases rather than curable diseases because they get patients as lifelong customers with chronic diseases The final pages of the book contain promotional material from CARE which states in the section Facts about Poverty that nearly half of humanity struggled to survive on less than 2 a day as of 2002, when the book was published This is at best questionable because researchers like Dr Hans Rosling have shown, using publicly available UN documents, that this statement was true in 1966, but since then poverty has continuosly declined to the point that in 2016, it was just 9% of the world population which lives under 2 a day This has been possible mainly due to Globalization of the world economy rather than charities and NGOs False pronouncements on poverty only succeed in giving credence to the criticism that aid organizations exaggerate humanitarian problems in order to shock donors into continue supporting them In short, a forgettable book from Bill Bryson. First of all, this is not a book It s a diary Bryson recounts his 8 days in Kenya with members of CARE International And that s 7 days longer than I d want to be there What a dreadful place Poverty, crime, hunger, lack of sanitation, no clean water, disease, corrupt government and a hostile climate Some of the other reviewers on Goodreads fault Bryson for not covering enough ground, but I disagree You don t need to read 300 pages to see the terrible conditions in which these people live EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES This short booklet is enough to make the point And if you read between the lines you will notice that Bryson runs us through a gamut of emotions ranging from humor before the journey, to fear about the trip, to disgust upon arrival, to sympathy when connecting with the locals, to enlightenment when he understands that the solution to the problems are within reach I checked out the Kindle edition from the Chicago Public Library at no charge so I am donating 10 to Care.org to cover the donation that would have gone to them with a bookstore purchase If you read my review and read a Kindle edition please do the same We CAN make a difference Thank you. So disappointed in this I could see it was likely to be a puff piece for the charity in return for the junket but expected it to be leavened with the customary Bryson humour Much po faced and worthy than I thought, with all the aid recipients saintly and deserving and inspirational Also hampered with first world guilt and the western tendency to take responsiblity for everyone else Oh, we built them wells but they fell into disrepair because we hadn t instructed them in how to maintain them Endless self flagellation and castigation and resolution to do things better Oh the government in question is corrupt and siphoning off millions of dollars Why don t international bodies like the IMF step in and stop this Paternalistic and patronising, treating African nations like half wit children. This should really be Bill Bryson s Kenyan Diary, since that s the only country he visits I had been looking for this book for a while, but I didn t realize that it was a slim charity volume, with all proceeds going to CARE As such, it does its job, presenting the excellent work of CARE and other organizations in Kenya, with a dash of Bryson s signature wit It did its job, showing the country s poverty but also its beauty, and the tireless work of those who are investing in the country through model farms, microloans, and other self sufficiency projects I ll be making a donation, since I bought the book used.