am 17. Dezember 2009
During his lifetime RK has produced at least 3 superb monographs, on Ethiopia ("The Emperor"), on Iran ("Shah of Shahs") and on the remains of the Soviet Union ("Imperium"). In addition, he has has written numerous accounts of his adventures as a correspondent of the Polish News Agency during and after the end of the Cold War, in his own language and in journals such as GRANTA. The best of his pieces were brought together in collections such as "The Soccer War". It must be remembered that his entire oeuvre was created in the pre-internet era. He relied on a device called "telex" to get his messages to Warsaw. The original telexes, his notebooks and his elephantine memory have been the main inputs for his books.
The present volume is an overview of his writing on Africa from 1958 to 1998. Unlike most writers on Africa, RK has always elected, perhaps also for lack of funds, to live in close contact with Africans, living in cheap accomodations and giving the diplomatic circuit a wide berth. His insight into what threatens Africa's progress and what spurs its people to continue to struggle for a better life, is awesome. True academics, professional friends and critics of Africa, should take some time out to read this collection, which is not entirely without small errors: plantations of rubber trees in Sudan? Bantu farmers in Mali? Also, it does not deeply address issues like the Cold War, problems resulting from debt and Western-imposed limitations on free trade, or domestic corruption.
However, RK has captured the soul of Africans living South of the Sahara better than anyone. Highly recommended.