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The Ukimwi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe Paperback – 24 Oct 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (24 Oct. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006548024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006548027
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Tells of Dervla Murphy's cycle journey through sub-Saharan Africa. She describes the beauty and ruggedness of the countries she visited, but also offers her own view of the concern of the people with Western development projects, AIDS, and the return of communities to traditional ways. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

FOR TRAVELLERS WHO WISH TO REMAIN CAREFREE, AFRICA IS THE WRONG CONTINENT

Embarking on a three-thousand mile solo cycle ride across sub-Saharan Africa, Dervla Murphy, at sixty 'the toughest female travel writer of our age', had hoped to escape from the mental and emotional shackles of home. But as she pedalled and pushed her bicycle over some of the roughest roads from Kenya through Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to Zimbabwe, inevitably the harrowing problems of the peoples among whom she travelled rose up to take their place. In particular, the mysterious threat of AIDS ('ukimwi' in Swahili) was talked about wherever she went, by both men and women.

Finding comfort in the beauty of the contrasting landscapes of the countries she passed through, in the space and the solitude, and entertained by the talkative, welcoming local people, Murphy survived starvation, a beating by paramilitaries and a bout of malaria. As ever, she was sustained by her extraordinary compassion, humour and sense of adventure. What emerges from her journey along the Ukimwi Road is a personal, often controversial, always compelling view of Africa, its peoples and its future.

''The Ukimwi Road' is at times a grim work. It is also illuminating and clear-headed'
MARK COCKER, 'Daily Telegraph'

'[Dervla Murphy] belongs firmly to that fine tradition of eccentric women travellers…endearingly self-deprecating'
ANTHONY DANIELS, 'Spectator'

'Wonderful descriptions of the varied landscapes spanning her six-country tour … the reader is given a flavour of the African sense of humour not normally found in travel literature'
JARLATH DOLAN, 'Irish Times'

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Read this book if you are bored with the numerous bland accounts of Africa but crave a deeper insight into the real social fabric of the continent. During the course of her AIDS-ridden travels, DM interacts with an enlightening mixture of Africa's colourful population and develops strong, often controversial, views on Africa's future direction. Her book offers an alternative to the traditional western view of what is best for the continent by allowing African's to air their own ideas for solving their problems and why the West's 'obvious' answers are not always the right ones.
If you don't have an (informed) opinion on Africa before you read this book, you will afterwards.
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By A Customer on 23 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
I lived in Africa for the first half of my life, and since I moved to England I have been eagerly devouring all books with an African theme in an attempt to recapture memories of my homeland. Never have I come accross such an accurate yet enjoyable read. She does full justice to a wonderful continent.A truly excellant book.
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Format: Paperback
Dervla Murphy is a remarkable woman. To embark (and complete) this cycle ride is an amazing experience, especially alone and at a more mature age than the usual 20 year olds who have a go at this. The book reflects a more thoughtful person travelling through the country and is a very personal reflection of both the journey and Dervla Murphy's growing awareness of the ravages of AIDS in the region. What emerges is a very personal account of the journey which provides a thought provoking contrast to the tourist images of the area. Read this book if you want this contrast, consider carefully the conclusions which shine through, but also think carefully before you accept all of DM's opinions as your own.
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Format: Paperback
This is my favourite of all Dervla Murphy's travel books. In 1992 she cycled through Eastern and South-Eastern Africa along a route she calls the Ukimwi Road, 'Ukimwi' being the Swahili for AIDS which was spreading southwards at that time.

Murphy has never been one to worry about political correctness or rocking the boat. She makes some very trenchant comments in this book about well-meaning westerners, especially NGOs: the way in which they fail to understand the societies they are working in, the way they impose their own values on the countries they have supposedly come to serve and the way they live lives far removed from the people they have supposedly come to work with.

Part way through the book she's forced to confront the fact that this is true - in a different way - of her too when an African woman contradicts her interpretation of the bride price system and challenges Murphy over her lack of sensitivity to African mores in regard to marriage and religion.

The book is not just about politics or even about the terrible suffering of AIDS-stricken Africans however, it's also about the speed with which Africa was changing even then. The solitary traditional hunter she meets in Tanzania seems like a ghost from another world. It's a book about people much more than landscapes and about the present rather than history.

And of course it's a book about travel itself and its effect on your priorities. Murphy scoffs at young backpackers laiden down with packs they can barely lift as they attempt to carry their world with them.
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Format: Hardcover
Dervla Murphy's view of Africa is a personal and controversial one, but she vividly conveys the very different atmospheres of the countries she travels through.

By day, Dervla enjoyed the space and solitude of rural Africa; even the toughest terain did not deter her although on one occasion it nearly claimed her. In the evenings she usually stayed in villages where she found the locals talkative and welcoming. Hours of illuminating conversation ended most days.
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Format: Paperback
I've never ready any Dervla Murphy before, but bought this as preparation for my own trip to rural Kenya (with small children in tow)and what an inspiration she is! Brought up tough, this 60 year old dismisses in a sentence the trials of tsetse fly bites, bed bugs, dehydration, bike collisions and the other misadventures which befall a lady cyclist traversing 5 African countries. She clearly relishes the hours of solitude and vistas of unique mountainous landscapes (although remains unable to mend a puncture even at the end of her journey! - There is hope for the rest of us unmechanically minded female cyclists!).

So long as she finds somewhere to chain her bike "Lear", a bed of sorts and some place that sells her beloved "Nile" beer (or local equivalent) at the end of a hot day's pedalling, she is content and draws out whoever she meets into engaging conversations. I'm not well informed about the political history of these countries but that didn't stop me enjoying the thumbnail description of each person she encounters and caring increasingly deeply (as she does throughout the book)about the issue of AIDS or "this slim disease". She meets some women supporting each other in the previously unheard of action of not sleeping with their husbands if the mas has come home from travelling infected, another woman setting up a hotel which is "free of temptation" for the men. There are pockets of feminism in the most unexpected places and DM delights in it!

She is remarkable and so are many of the women she meets in this highly recommended journey.
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