African Laughter

African Laughter

Four Visits to Zimbabwe

Book - 1992
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A rich and penetrating portrait of Lessing's homeland, African Laughter recounts the visits she made to Zimbabwe in 1982, 1988, 1989, and 1992, afte r being exiled from the old Southern Rhodesia for 25 years for her opposition to the minority white government. In an original work, Lessing uses memory and reminiscence with recent experience to depict a country in the process of change.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c1992.
ISBN: 9780060168544
Branch Call Number: 916.8910405 Les h7ma 01
Characteristics: xii, 442 pages : map.


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Dec 04, 2013

As the author, Doris Lessing, died on November 17, 2013 then this travelogue cum memoir may have more significance. Lessing offers many flashbacks to her girlhood on a small farm in Southern Rhodesia prompted by her four visits to Zimbabwe in the 1980s. There is little basis for laughter in this book and a more appropriate title might have been "Now I think we all went mad" (p. 399). This compilation would have benefited from an effective editor to cut it down from 442 pages! During her visits in 1988 and 1989, Lessing participated on a "Book Team" of three female facilitators (and a male graphic artist) to tour Zimbabwe to produce a series of self-help handbooks for rural development (p. 236+). Lessing's guarded optimism for Zimbabwe under Mugabe (and her relentless putdown of Zambia) has proven mistaken with hindsight but her comments about local environment degradation and AIDS were prescient.


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Dec 04, 2013

"On a drive through some particularly dramatic mountains, this happened: in the car were the Coffee Farmer, his Assistant, and I. We were going up a steep hill. In front walked a young black woman. She was very pregnant, had a baby on her back, held a small child by the hand. ... I knew that the two men had literally not seen this woman. 'How about giving her a lift?' ... I knew we would not be giving her a lift. ... Wrangling, we drive slowly up the steep hill past the pregnant woman. ...Since then an obvious thought has added itself ...: no one was likely to give this woman a lift. Certainly not the new [black] rulers of the country, flashing about in their great cars, their motorcades. Perhaps some local missionary, or a doctor ... everywhere in the world this peasant woman, with one (or two) babies inside her, one on her back, one or two clutched by the hand, is slowly walking up a mountain, and we can be sure that few people see her." (p. 136-7)

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