Monday, 24 July 2000

Entry #77

Listening to:
Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli.
Just read:
Granta 48: Africa. I thought this a good collection. The first thing in it was fiction (by William Boyd) with only a tenuous link to Africa, and though it was very amusing, it was much more about Hollywood than Africa. I was a bit nervous about what I was getting myself in for when I read that, but the rest of the issue was much more what I was expecting.

That means there was mainly non-fiction reportage about a variety of African countries, including Rwanda, Liberia, South Africa, Ethiopia and Angola. The long piece on Liberia was very interesting. The narrator was the wife of a senior diplomat at the US embassay. As things deteriorate, she is eventually (reluctantly) evacuated, and chooses to go to Sierra Leone. She contrasts the chaos at Monrovia (people, not all of them as well connected as she, desperate to leave) with the calm at Freetown.

This is pretty ironic of course; Liberia is pretty stable nowadays with Charles Taylor (one of the rebels described in the Granta piece) in control and supporting rebels in Sierra Leone. In any case, this piece's description of the disintegration of a country and its capital is both depressing and compelling.

Overheard on the street this morning:
"Doesn't she have one, then?"
"No, but she sometimes ties one to part of her fence."

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