Bright Continent
by Susan Blumenthal

“Lomé enthusiast.... are people who have traveled widely in West Africa. For someone who has been subject to the hyperactivity of Lagos, Lomé is a garden suburb. For anyone who has spent $4.00 for a drink in an Abidjan nightclub, Lomé's dischotheques are better and cheaper. Lomé's restaurants are as exciting as Accra's are dull, and her hotels are as comfortable and reasonably priced as Lagos' are ill-conceived and expensive.”

“Mopti [Mali].... is most dramatically approached for the first time in the evening.... As one approaches, the city beckons with decaying fingers. At dusk, furry brown animals that may be first mistaken for moles creep up from the river to the side of the road. With a shudder of horror one realizes they are rats. Later the mosquitoes will come out in angry droves, hankering to drive you as mad as they are. The heat and the smell of exposed mud and putrescent sewage are somehow worse at night, too.”

When I was in Togo, Bright Continent was the bible of those of us who took some time to travel around Africa during or after our Peace Corps service. Packed with info on just about every country, it made a great traveling companion.

Now, of course, with a 1974 copyright it is quite dated.... but still, if you can find it, it's a great read! As the Quote and Outrageous Quote of the Month indicate, Blumenthal had a real flair for writing, and her descriptions still resonate.

If it weren't so dated, I'd give it four stars.... As it is, I give it ***½ (out of ****).

Back to The Friends of Togo Guide to Books about Africa