Published in 2002

This small book contains Bill Bryson’s account of his trip to Kenya. He was asked by CARE-International visit some of their project and to write a couple of words on their behalf. As of his preceding knowledge, it must have been quite an adventurous undertaking for him:

“… were it not for some scattered viewings of the 1952 classic Bwanda Devil and a trip on the jungle Safari ride at Disneyland in 1961, my knowledge of African life, I regret to say, would be entirely dependent on Jungle Jim movies.”

After a terrifying briefing on African dangers he might encounter, he got on a plane. Although he got himself into distress various times (seemingly to make us laugh), it did not take long for Bryson to realise that Kenya is a “terrific country”, and that CARE’s projects really make a difference to the local people.

Especially interesting I found the account of “Kibera” the biggest slum in Nairobi. It reminded me of the slums described by Mike Davis in his book Planet of Slums. Even though Kibera has at least 700.000 occupants, the government does not recognise Kibera, it does not officially exist, and it cannot be found on any map. This makes it difficult for humanitarian organisations – such as CARE – to make improvements. I not only recommend you to buy this book because it is an amusing read, but in Bill Bryson’s words:

“… in acquiring this slender volume you didn’t actually buy a book. You made a generous donation to a worthy cause and got a free book in return, which isn’t quite the same thing.”

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