Posted 20 hours ago

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

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So while soul, heart, and the bent of my mind are African, my skin blaringly begs to differ and is resolutely white. These are difficult things to say – get the tone wrong and you will offend almost everyone – but Fuller’s gaze is equally astonishing when she directs it at the bodies of the white people around her. A dad trying to keep it all together through farming but who is restrained by political changes going on at the time. I appreciated that we, as whites, could not own a piece of Africa, but I knew, with startling clarity, that Africa owned me.

From earwigs skittering across the living room when the Christmas tree candles were lighted to the pair of rats living in her bedroom, and from clinging on while her dad drove around shouting for the laughing kids on the car roof to sing louder to her mother’s breakdowns after losing three children, Fuller presents each experience just as she remembers it, with little to no commentary. I suppose you could argue she should have done more to challenge the views around her, such as when Mum is bemoaning the fact that she wants just one country in Africa to stay white-run, but she was only a child at this point. This British family was always in hostile, desolate environments, moving from Rhodesia to Zambia and Malawi. Admittedly, Fuller’s nonlinear account of her childhood in Africa is a little more eventful than theirs.Then at Independence (1980), Bobo and her classmates are stunned to see black pupils far wealthier and more sophisticated than them joining their elite high school. It’s also a love letter to the land, using words far more poignant and evocative than those that Margaret Mitchell puts in Scarlett O’Hara’s mouth. This is a profoundly personal story about growing up with a pair of funny, tough, white African settlers, and living with their "sometimes breathlessly illogical decisions", as they move from war-torn Zimbabwe to disease and malnutrition in Malawi, and finally the "beautiful and fertile" land of Zambia.

Here it is so hot that “the flamboyant tree outside cracks to itself, as if already anticipating how it will feel to be on fire”.

Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else.

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