Drink the Bitter Root

Drink the Bitter Root

A Writer's Search for Justice and Redemption in Africa

eBook - 2011
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Drink the Bitter Root is a provocative and emotionally charged account of one writer's travels in sub-Saharan Africa. Haunted by the 1993 murder of a Somali teenager by Canadian soldiers in what became known as the Somalia affair, and long fascinated by the so-called "dark continent," Gary Geddes decides at the age of sixty-eight to make the trip. His explorations are guided by questions. How can a tribunal in a remote suburb of Europe possibly change things on the ground in Africa? Are international aid and intervention improving the lives of ordinary Africans or contributing to the
Publisher: New York : Douglas & McIntyre, 2011
ISBN: 9781553659693
1553659694
Characteristics: 1 online resource (330 p.)

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m
mjayh
Apr 16, 2012

The book was a finalist for the 2012 BC non-fiction award.

l
Liber_vermis
Sep 17, 2011

This travelogue-memoir was a "Staff Pick" of the Fall 2011 issue of "BC Bookworld" magazine. The item noted that the book "describes Geddes' forays, at age 68, into Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Somaliland. In a world of child soldiers, refugees and poets-turned-freedom fighters, Geddes is particularly impressed by Somali culture in which poetry is a popular activity viewed as 'a healing and a subversive art'."

So much for their opinion. As a reader who worked in southern Africa for several years, my response was that Geddes was a voyeur of African misery and crime. It would be like hanging out on Vancouver's Eastside to observe, photograph and interview the prostitutes, addicts, and homeless for the next parasitic book. I wanted to quit before I got to page 50. I persevered to the end. I regret it. [Note the injunction in the "Quotes" tab.]

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l
Liber_vermis
Oct 15, 2011

The author goes to Rwanda to see the great gorillas before they are exterminated ... and happens to see some child-soldiers, raped women, and political prisoners ... while enjoying good meals and cold beers in the new hotels catering to prosperous NGOs.

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Liber_vermis
Oct 15, 2011

In his Postscript, Geddes quotes an "... Australian aboriginal elder Lilla Watson: 'If you've come to help me, don't waste your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then we can work together.'" (p. 221) Then the author offers a list of aid agencies and human rights groups to readers who may want to help. Geddes and readers should re-read Ms. Watson's injunction.

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