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Fascinating account of Africa in 1960s,
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This review is from: African Dow (Paperback)
I read this book, an autobiographical account of Dow's years in Africa, in one sitting. It provides a fascinating insight into Africa on the cusp of change - as well as the workings of "dead tree" newspapers and journalists in a vanished era - and deserves to have a much wider readership. Jim Dow arrives in Africa as a naive teenager in the late 1950s and is initially shocked by the social and racial segregation that was then regarded as normal in the former East African colonies of Tanzania and Kenya. He leaves in 1963 as a more worldly-wise journalist, with a wife (Lorna) and daughter (Karen) in tow. For me, 'African Dow's' most interesting passages include Dow's eyewitness accounts of the tensions between white farmers and the new generation of black leaders (and their followers) who are desirous of change. He provides a fair and balanced portrait of the early post-colonial black leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyere and Daniel P Arap Moi, all of whom Dow knew personally. He also perfectly captures the complacency of the white ruling class, most of whom rather like the status quo and seem unprepared for change. Paradoxically it was the old Etonian UK prime minister, Harold Macmillan, who recognised that change was inevitable (with his famous "Winds of change" speech) rather than senior people on the ground. Dow ends this intimate and humane account of an African life by writing: "Everything is different in Africa. The dust of Africa after forty years is still on the shoes. It's in the hair, under the fingernails, in the nostrils. You never forget having been in Africa."