NICK PERKINS FROM BARBADOS









IN SEARCH OF AFRICA

The Radio Bridge Overseas Trust presents:

RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"

12 Audio-Essays by Nick Perkins from Barbados

© 1998 - 2001RADIO BRIDGE OVERSEAS TRUST / CONTACT RBO FOR RIGHT OF USE

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RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 1:
"COOLING THE WATER"
03'28" / RBO# E055


"Let me tell you why I think there are not nearly as many black travellers doing Africa as you might expect. It is an explanation that begins one sweltering evening in Egypt when I entered my dormitory room and was immediately appalled, in the sink in the corner lay a bottle of mineral water, cooling under a gushing tap..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 2:
"THE DOUBTFUL BENEFITS OF BLACK SKIN"
03'26" / RBO# E056


"Many travellers I meet look at my skin with intrigue and ask if it is easier for me to travel in Africa. Well, not always. Actually, hardly ever. Take for instance, Prison Island, in the Zanzibar Archipelago..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 3:
"CAFÉ IN ERITREA"
03'11" / RBO# E057


"...The Eritreans feel they have a lot of catching up to do. After 90 years of Italian colonialism, they were not given independence but were instead handed over to Ethiopia. They have the United Nations to thank for this. The U.N. made the arrangement on the basis of ethnic links between Southern Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia. Like a misguided social worker, the U.N. got it all wrong... Anyway, one day, I was sitting in a little café sheltering from the rain in Eritrea..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 4:
"RELIGION IN AFRICA"
03'24" / RBO# E065


"I was on a truck, traveling along the edge of the Turkana Desert in Kenya when it happened. Everyone had told me it would happen sooner or later. You cannot travel in Africa without it happening, they said, and they were right. ‘I gave a ride to this German woman,’ the driver began, ‘She said she did not really care if there was a God or not! Ahh, I nearly put her out.’ And so it happened, I started talking religion in Africa..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 5:
"COLONISED DRESS"
03'25" / RBO# E069


"The woman I got a ride with from Tanzania was anxious. She did not like crossing borders especially with a car and with a dread-locked passenger. So the night before we were to cross into Zambia, she looked at me and tried as tactfully as possible to suggest that I wear a tie the next day... I did not have a tie..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 6:
"BODY TOUCH - AN AFRICAN WAY
TO COMMUNICATE" / 03'19" / RBO# E105


"I had my first bit of culture shock within half an hour of arriving on the continent. I was on a bus heading into downtown Tunis... Suddenly, a young man dropped into the seat beside me. I did not turn to see who it was... But when I felt his arm along my back, I could not help it..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 7:
"THE BILL"
03'11" / RBO# E109


"It could have been a joke, two guys walk into an African restaurant, one black, one white. The white guy says to the black guy, can you pay for me? The black guy should then turn to him and say something profound and witty, but instead, I said, sure... Then came the bill, which was placed quietly before my friend, my friend who happened to have no money..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 8:
"THE CLOCK"
03'45" / RBO# E110


"Someone had stolen the clock from the lobby, the big one with gold, from behind the reception desk. The thieves must have come in while Everson was sleeping on the couch. So why come to me? Well, maybe the robbers came in through the front door which was open because I had visitors until late the night before. My visitors let themselves out, not bothering to wake Everson to lock the door behind them. It was not my visitors to blame but maybe I had seen something, no I had not. Still, the boy was very nervous and I felt guilty..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 9:
"PLACES AND PEOPLE"
03'23" / RBO# E111


"I was in for a few surprises when I visited the Pyramids of Egypt... We all wanted to touch them. And frollick amongst them, on a camel or on a horse. Well, actually only one girl in our small group opted for a horse. Her boyfriend, a very careful Scandinavian, was not too pleased with this. As he watched her and the guide disappear round some corner on the horses, he grew anxious..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 10:
"MZUNGU BOY"
04'00" / RBO# E112


"Uganda is an easy country to like. Take the capital Kampala for instance. It is a beautiful city of sunsets... I was walking through the city with a local friend. My friend was trying to explain to me the difference between blacks and coloureds... Intrigued, I asked him what Ugandans would call me with my peanut complexion... ’You,’ he said and lowered his eyes to watch his footsteps, ‘You, they would call Mzungu..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 11:
"THE FILM-MAKER"
03'18" / RBO# E115


"I went to see a play, a couple of weeks after I arrived in Zimbabwe. As I lived through the program, I realised that I knew the guy who was playing the lead. I had met him in Toronto... He had been there on a film training scholarship. When the piece was finished, I went to make my way backstage to congratulate my friend... but before we met, he was intercepted by a woman who must have known him from childhood. She was full of praise for his performance... Then she asked him, ‘So, what sort of work are you doing?’ I cringed. The woman saw nothing wrong with her question and waited cheerfully for a reply..."





RBO SPECIAL: "IN SEARCH OF AFRICA"
ESSAY 12:
"VILLAGE PEOPLE"
03'30" / RBO# E116


"Up where the air is thin but the heavens are wide there is a village called Gichi. The huts are like overgrown mushrooms on the frosty green alpine slopes. These are the slopes of Northern Ethiopia where an Israeli friend and I spent four days thrilled by the beauty and exhausted by our resilience... We were heading to one of the peaks, this one only 4000m high, but because we had no tents, we spent the night, thanks to our guide, in the huts of villagers... So there we were, standing on a slope above our hosts for the night... My friend watched the contentment of some nearby cows. ‘Could you stay here for the rest of your life?’ I paused... I told him I would need to think about a decision like that. ‘I know what you mean,’ he responded..."