After the return of South Africa to the international family, it became possible for David Robbins to travel regularly in other parts of Africa. He had at last, he said, been released from the bondage of apartheid into his broader home. The result of this release is Searching Africa, containing over twenty travel narratives that take the reader from the continent’s expiring settler south to the Sahara and beyond.
While his explorations were still in progress, Robbins published his successful Aspects of Africa (Viking and Penguin), which comprises exactly half the material now assembled. When Aspects was first published, one critic alluded to ‘the mind-bending and bewildering complexities of a continent marked by natural grace on the one hand and genocide on the other’. (Yves Vanderhaeghen in The Natal Witness)
Through graphic descriptions and revealing encounters, Searching Africa charts the progress of this award-winning writer through such countries as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Zaire (now DRC), Malawi, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda (shortly after the genocide and subsequent invasion), Uganda, Brazzaville Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone (during the civil war), Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco, searching not for ‘solutions’ to Africa’s ‘problems’ but simply for the tactile experience of being at close quarters to the dramas and pains of contemporary Africa’s profoundly wrenching transition.