By Betty Levitov
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Additional info for Africa on Six Wheels: A Semester on Safari
That’s the mystery of Gavin—he doesn’t give out personal stuff, and when he does, it might be fabrication. The ’98 students became obsessed with ﬁnding out even the most basic biographical information. He might be proof that truth is crazier than ﬁction, if I knew what to believe. In the close quarters of our rental van, Gavin’s only mechanism for personal space was maintaining secrecy. I still don’t even know his age. I had met Gavin in Zimbabwe on the Lonely Planet circuit (the route for backpackers using the popular guidebooks) in 1998.
Every day in Egypt she was greeted and admired, singled out of our group of twenty as a great beauty. She enjoyed every moment in Africa, but especially Egypt, where her dark skin gave her celebrity and distinction among the group of otherwise white American travelers. We enjoyed her status and were proud to be in the same group as she. Our connection to her reached a new depth, carrying the complicated weight of historical racism in America. Was this because we were isolated and together in Africa?
In Africa today, with dominant single-party systems and obscenely rich and cruel dictators, Nyerere’s Leadership Code, banning politicians from accumulating personal wealth, sounds like an impossible dream. Mr. Mushi admires Nyerere, but he qualiﬁes his praise. He says, “Nyerere educated and uniﬁed the people. By building up Swahili as the common language, he brought 125 ethnic groups together. ” Mushi sees this as a bad thing. Mushi tells us that Nyerere’s early teachers were Roman Catholic missionaries, that his African socialism was really Marxist, and though he studied at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, his education at the University of Edinburgh (he was the ﬁrst Tanzanian to study at a British university) was the most inﬂuential.