Africa from East to West describes a journey across the width of Africa from Massawa on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea to Cape Verde in Senegal. Most of this journey was through the semi-arid regions just south of the Sahara desert – at about 15˚N – although the author also went further south through the savannas and rainforests of West Africa. The journey took place between 1965 and 1967, a relatively peaceful time in Africa when most countries had just attained Independence from colonial rule.
The author travelled alone, by train, lorry, bus, car, boat, and sometimes on foot. He is a zoologist with special interests in natural history and landscapes, but the book is also rich endowed with information about African history and the lifestyles, cultures, arts and religions of the many different people he encountered en route. Like all travellers in Africa, he had to contend with the harshness of the climate; bad roads, rough sleeping and strange foods, but this was offset by the warm friendship and kindness he received from fellow travellers and local people.
Each chapter covers a different section of the journey (beginning in the east). There are also chapters about a special expedition to Jebel Marra, a remote volcanic crater in Dafur Province of Sudan, and what it was like living and working in Khartoum (Sudan) and Ibadan (Nigeria) in the 1960s. The book ends with a contemplation of how Africa has changed since the 1960s, now that the ‘old Africa’ has gone forever.
David Happold was born, raised and educated in Salisbury, England but now lives in Australia. He is the author of several books on zoology and 85 scientific papers. David is currently Emeritus Fellow of the Australian University after retiring as a Reader in Zoology.