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1 Hawthorne Travel Writing- Africa and Middle East

Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa

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Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa Cover

ISBN13: 9780820320366
ISBN10: 0820320366
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Synopsis:

Without railroads or domestic airlines, Niger's roads are its lifeline. For a year, Peter Chilson traveled this desert country by automobile, detouring occasionally into Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast, in order to tell the story of West African road culture. He crisscrossed the same roads again and again with bush taxi driver Issoufou Garba in order to learn one driver's story inside and out. He hitchhiked, riding in cotton trucks, and he also traveled with other bush taxi drivers, truckers, road engineers, an anthropologist, Niger's only licensed woman commercial driver, and a customs officer.

The road in Africa, says Chilson, is more than a direction or a path to take. Once you've booked passage and taken your seat, the road becomes the center of your life. Hurtling along at 80 miles an hour in a bush taxi equipped with bald tires, no windows, and sometimes no doors, travelers realize that they've surrendered everything. Soldiers collect "taxes" at checkpoints, and black-market gasoline salesmen appear mysteriously from the roadside bush. Courageous drivers — who come across in the book as rogue folk heroes — negotiate endless checkpoints; ingenious mechanics repair cars with nothing.

The road is also about blood and fear, and the ecstasy of arrival. On African roads, car wrecks are as common as mile markers, and the wreckage can stand in monument for months or years: a minibus upended against a tree, as if attempting escape; a charred truck overturned in a ditch.

Chilson uses the road not to reinforce Africa's worn image of decay but to 'reveal how people endure political and economic chaos, poverty, and disease. The road has reflected the struggle for survival inNiger since the first automobile arrived there at the turn of the century, and it remains a useful metaphor for the fight for stability and prosperity across Africa.

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Henry, June 9, 2007 (view all comments by Henry)
In this marvelously detailed, nonfiction narrative of travel on the spirit-rich roads of Niger, West Africa, Chilson chronicles his journeys by "bush taxi," or freelance transport, through maddeningly frequent police checkpoints, past a seemingly unbroken line of wrecked vehicles (many of them, no doubt, bush taxis like those in which he rides), and into a number of fascinating meetings and conversations with people who call the desert regions of Niger home. Those he meets include bush taxi drivers, the commandant of Niger's often corrupt and abusive highway patrol, a revered holy man who provides the writer with talismans to ward off harm on the road, and Niger's only female commercial driver, who aspires to owning her own bush taxi service. As he travels, Chilson reflects on his own responses to the landscape and to the harshness of life in the impoverished country. Ultimately a book about a place, Riding the Demon offers insights into a land of which most non-Africans know nothing at all. The influence of Graham Greene is felt here in the lushness of the book?s physical detail, the clarity of its cultural observations, and the depth of its inquiry into what makes for a truly human existence, a life lived morally and well.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780820320366
Subtitle:
On the Road in West Africa
Author:
Chilson, Peter
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Location:
Athens :
Subject:
Africa
Subject:
Description and travel
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Automobile travel
Subject:
Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Africa, West
Subject:
Niger
Subject:
Automobile travel -- Africa, West.
Copyright:
Publication Date:
March 1998
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
216
Dimensions:
8.55x5.77x.96 in. .97 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » Management
Travel » Travel Writing » Africa and Middle East
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa Used Hardcover
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$10.50 In Stock
Product details 216 pages University of Georgia Press - English 9780820320366 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Without railroads or domestic airlines, Niger's roads are its lifeline. For a year, Peter Chilson traveled this desert country by automobile, detouring occasionally into Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast, in order to tell the story of West African road culture. He crisscrossed the same roads again and again with bush taxi driver Issoufou Garba in order to learn one driver's story inside and out. He hitchhiked, riding in cotton trucks, and he also traveled with other bush taxi drivers, truckers, road engineers, an anthropologist, Niger's only licensed woman commercial driver, and a customs officer.

The road in Africa, says Chilson, is more than a direction or a path to take. Once you've booked passage and taken your seat, the road becomes the center of your life. Hurtling along at 80 miles an hour in a bush taxi equipped with bald tires, no windows, and sometimes no doors, travelers realize that they've surrendered everything. Soldiers collect "taxes" at checkpoints, and black-market gasoline salesmen appear mysteriously from the roadside bush. Courageous drivers — who come across in the book as rogue folk heroes — negotiate endless checkpoints; ingenious mechanics repair cars with nothing.

The road is also about blood and fear, and the ecstasy of arrival. On African roads, car wrecks are as common as mile markers, and the wreckage can stand in monument for months or years: a minibus upended against a tree, as if attempting escape; a charred truck overturned in a ditch.

Chilson uses the road not to reinforce Africa's worn image of decay but to 'reveal how people endure political and economic chaos, poverty, and disease. The road has reflected the struggle for survival inNiger since the first automobile arrived there at the turn of the century, and it remains a useful metaphor for the fight for stability and prosperity across Africa.

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