150 Years separate two explorers of Africa: the Englishman John Hanning Speke and South African Sihle Khumalo. Speke set out to “discover” the source of the Nile, and Khumalo to figure out what the hell Speke and men like him were after. Khumalo’s 2008 journey to Central Africa was not without its challenges. First he had to outperform his famous earlier trip and book Dark Continent My Black Arse. Then he elected to travel, as before, by public transport only. Which in practice often meant more transit and less transport.
Giving himself a mere four weeks, and propelled by a frank fascination with the Victorian explorers, Khumalo set out on a six-pronged quest aiming, interalia, to ferry across Lake Tanganyika, stand on the equator in Uganda, bungee jump at the source of the Nile, or see if any mountain gorillas were forthcoming (none were).
But it was his emotive visit to the Memorial Centre at Kigali, epicentre of the Rwandan genocide, that brought home elemental questions: What is at the heart of Africa? What makes me an African? Where lies my centre? Heart of Africa is the unputdownable account of a journey that seldom went as planned. Khumalo’s unfailing eye for the good, the bad and the amusing in Africa, his refreshing candour and his sheer cheek, make this book every bit as delightful as its forerunner.