Does this actually count as a book? Maybe not, but it was an enjoyable and insightful read. Despite its relatively small page count, Bryson manages to make less than a week feel like a month (in a good way, honest!) as he relates the various places and peoples he encounters throughout Kenya.
African Diary isn’t another of Bryson’s travelogues, but instead was released to raise money for CARE International* and their work within the country. As a result, the focus is clearly on broad strokes and heart strings. That’s perfectly acceptable for a charity release and Bryson’s writing is as witty and clear as ever. The picture painted of Kenya feels fair (though it would be ignorant to claim any personal knowledge), presenting the country as rich in history, natural wonder and cultural heritage yet facing a worrying future.
Despite the consistent warnings and reminders of the darker side of the Dark Continent, ultimately African Diary serves as (what would appear to be) a very good itinerary for a holiday. Sure, you would probably skip the worst of the shanty towns, but the visits to the verdant highlands, tropical coast and incredibly interesting ancient city of Gedi have all shot up my bucket list. The latter, personally, would be reason to visit alone, regardless of bandits or storm clouds.
*Don’t make the mistake I almost did: CARE International is very different from the distinctly religious CARE organisation (whose motives I find a little less acceptable). CARE International are a non-religious not-for-profit that focus on helping communities achieve stability. They have pioneered work with innovative micro-loan banks and have helped thousands of communities work their way to a better standard of living.