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Looking for Lovedu: A Woman's Journey Across Africa    by Ann Jones order for
Looking for Lovedu
by Ann Jones
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Don't let the exuberant cover fool you. This is a gritty story of a tough journey by a tough lady, facing dangers from four legged as well as two legged animals; greedy officials; mud holes the size of Kansas that must be traversed; corrupt politicians; and a moody travel partner who just wants to get to their destination. Muggleton and Jones started their odyssey in Gibraltar on a quest to find a land somewhere in Africa ruled by women - Lovedu (pronounced Lo-BAY-du). The histories of the African countries they travel through are poignant; so many of their peoples seemed to do well until corrupted by the white man. This book is a sad commentary on man's inhumanity to man - also on man's inhumanity to woman! What a life many African women live - it sounds, from these accounts, more like a struggle for daily existence.

Once started, this book is hard to put down. I followed the pair's travels on the map in the front of the book and imagined myself in their Toyota Land Cruiser. Having been a wasungu (white man) on safari myself, I was very interested to read of Africans' views on the intruders in their land. Looking for Lovedu is a strong book. It voices the social mores of the peoples Muggleton and Jones, and later Caro and Celia, met - but also the histories of appalling corruption that plunged whole countries into grinding poverty while their leaders squirreled away billions in their own personal Swiss bank accounts (you hear of these tyrants in the news but until you actually read about conditions from someone who has experienced them, it seems far away and hard to feel a connection).

Did Ann Jones find Lovedu? Read her book to find out. Cheer the author's indomitable spirit, her courage and determination - and her honesty as she discovers she's not the person she thought she was. True soul searching on a very readable level.

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