Trolling the archives of African books at Powells in Portland, I found yesterday an unusually clear statement, by the musician Bob Geldoff, on the need for a more complex view of the African continent. Geldoff writes:
â€œAfrica is not the Dark Continent as so often described by writers from the gloomy northern skies of Europe. Not the Dark Continent at all. It is the Luminous Continent. Drenched in sun, pounded by heat and shimmering in its blinding glare. And within this immense continent, deserts with rolling seas of sand, tropics shrouded with jungles, equators dense with rainforest and coasts with more animals and fish than seems possible. There are more people, languages and cultures here than anywhere else on our planet. Africa is quite simply the most extraordinary, beautiful and luminous place on earth.
Most of us continue to see Africa as an object, a single, blighted place burning in the relentless, glaring heat, for others it occupies a romantic space in the imagination of child-like primitives and wild, beautiful creatures. For yet more of us itâ€™s the dark side of our minds, the impenetrable place, the unknowable mind. And, yes, all of this is partially true too much of the time. But there are other Africas.â€