“Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.”
A Leadership Fable? It really is. A book on teamwork and leadership, packaged up in a rich, crisp fictional story – easy to read, to digest, very thought-provoking. I’ve got a lot to process from this one..
“Africa is a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory. Someone will say ‘There is war there,’ and he will be right. Someone else, ‘It is peaceful there,’ and he too will be correct. Because everything depends on where and when.
During precolonial times, and hence not so long ago, more than ten thousand little states, kingdoms, ethnic unions, and federations existed in Africa. Roland Oliver, a historian at the University of London, draws attention to a general paradox in his book, The African Experience (1991): it has become common parlance to say that European colonialist partitioned Africa.
Partitioned? Oliver marvels. Colonialism was a brutal unification, brought about by fire and sword! Ten thousand entities reduced to fifty.
But much of the underlying variety, this mosaic – this shimmering collage of pebbles, bones, shells, bits of wood, pieces of tin, and leaves, remained.
The more closely we stare at it, the better we see how the bits and pieces of this tableau change place, shape and hue, giving rise to a spectacle staggering in its mutability, richness, pulse of colour.”
Mr Kapuscinski captivated me. His writing is incredibly fluid, smooth to read and poetic, yet weighty and full of thoughtful discussion.
The novel draws on forty years of experience as a reporter in Africa and I particularly enjoyed the earlier chapters on Ghana, Liberia and Rwanda. But the thought above, found hidden within the closing prose, had me thinking once again.
Africa is a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory – just as Australia is a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory, just as my hometown is a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory, just as my family is a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory.
Just as I am a thousand situations, varied, distinct, even contradictory.