“I am growing weary of life in this jungle. This savage hunting for money and things. This relentless gathering in plastic supermarket packets. This drumming on dark disco floors. Perhaps it is time to walk again. To walk until my feet turn a tar road back to dirt. Till my garden grows wild as savannah and my dogs run free as wolves”.
With these words, Adam Levin discards his urban middle-class life in Johannesburg and starts walking – and watching, thinking, laughing, dancing – as he searches for remote people, forgotten places and his own identity on the continent of his birth. He lives the life of a vagabond, seeking out the miracles and surprises of Africa and transcribing them into ‘a hundred scruffy notebooks’.
Undeterred by clichés of the Dark Continent as a place of war, famine and disease, Levin travels where few have been and meets some of the continent’s most enchanting people.
From Bi Kidude, East Africa’s greatest musical legend, to a mad Zanzibari Emperor, voodoo priestesses, millionaire businesswomen, couturiers and thieves, Levin immerses himself in his journeys. He hunts with East Africa’s last hunter-gatherers, tracks down nomads in the Sahara and shares a bed with a desperately poor family in Dakar.
The Wonder Safaris is a collection of these stories, recording Levin’s rediscovery of his ‘miracle eye’; his ability to listen; his sense of wonder.
“And all along the way, the richness of these journeys has been written on my body – each bump, each bite, each smile and each street – so that even if I never was an African, these journeys have made me one”.