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Blue-Eyed in Luhya-Land (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/11/14
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A rather normal middle class Swedish couple in their fifties left their suburban life in Sweden in search of something new - a contrast to the secure Swedish Welfare State. They sold their small house, packed their belongings in a shipping container, and left Sweden behind. They went to Africa. This book tells the true story of how they, during five years, lived as the only Europeans in a small village at the edge of one of the last rainforests in Kenya. They moved from a stressed life to a simple one, a clay hut on a maize field in Western Kenya, without any of the modern conveniences. On their own, they built a small rainforest hotel as the start of a new life. But life turned out difficult; corruption, tribal traditions and witchcraft hindered the blue-eyed couple in their efforts to help the suffering villagers. The story reflects this turbulent time with a lot of positive and negative experiences, arising in the meeting of contrasting cultures and traditions; Swedish meeting tribal Kenyan.
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This is a good antidote for the all too numerous superficial, lightweight and stereotypical pot-boilers coming off the press and jumping into airport terminal bookstalls (where they belong). Beautifully written, keenly observed and with a true sense of narrative, I found it hard to put down once caught up in the unerringly convincing and intensely human story.
A middle-aged Swedish couple moves to Africa in full assurance that the public law of their new country, like it has been in Sweden, will guarantee them protection and freedom of action. But as they are trying to build a new and better life, they find that they can not trust anyone or anything. Their dreams fall apart in a harsh reality where no laws are carried out in a correct way and where bribery is expected if you want to start any project, even if it is for the benefit of the suffering locals. Their life turns out a real roller-coaster ride; from one moment to the next they never know what will happen.
In their rural village, near the rainforest, corruption is regarded as normal; death is hiding behind the corner; your best friends steal your belongings but still expect to be regarded as friends. It is impossible to communicate because words do not mean the same thing for you as for them. The couple's dreams about helping others are gradually destroyed as they, the hard way, find out that tribal traditions and loyalty, witchcraft and violence are stronger than their wish to succeed. The couple and their belongings seem to be fair game for everyone. And they can not expect any help from the authorities either... Will the blue-eyed couple succeed or will they be defeated by local traditions, witchcraft and violence?
This book, in certain aspects, reminds me of another book that I liked very much as a child: Alice in Wonderland.