FINDING AFRICA

THE scramble for Africa produced many explorers who claimed to have discovered the great continent's natural treasures.

These intrepid explorers included John Hanning Speke, who set out to discover the source of the great Nile River. There was, however, a debate about Speke's verdict, which was challenged by Richard Burton.

Almost two centuries later the question of the source of the Nile still bugged footloose author and adrenaline junkie Sihle Khumalo, who set out on a trek to Africa by public transport not to claim the "discovery" as his own, but to bungee jump from the source of the great river.

Heart of Africa is an account of Khumalo's (mis)adventures as he trekked through six countries - Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda - to realise six goals.

These included standing on the imaginary line that divides the earth into north and south - which to his dismay he discovered was actually painted white.

Travelling alone via ferry, bus, taxi and boda-boda (motorcycles driven by rather demented and tempestuous drivers), Khumalo takes the reader along on a bumpy and rollicking ride that would make anyone want to jump on the next bus out of town.

He also lets the reader into his thoughts - which are often funny - and how his misconceptions about the people of this great continent were often dashed.

Heart of Africa makes not only for a great travel guide, but also an insightful and honest account of a journey that shows not only Africa's beauty and humanity, but its bitter and ugly not-so-distant past.

Khumalo also wrote Dark Continent My Black Arse, a collection of his experiences of his first Cape to Cairo trip.

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