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Description - Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Gavin Bell

Near the southern tip of Africa, there is a mountain that does a conjuring trick with the biggest tablecloth on earth. In a sacred forest near the Limpopo river, there is a bird that flies on wings of thunder, flashing lightning from its eyes and bearing rain in its beak. In between, there is a hauntingly beautiful land and millions of confused people. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed his native South Africa the 'Rainbow Nation', he conjured a vision of ethnic diversity and harmony in a country with eleven official languages, two national anthems, and a parliament that shuttled between two cities. As a foreign correspondent reporting on the last days of apartheid, Gavin Bell thought it was a brave image and wondered how long it would endure. A few years later, he returned to find out what had happened to Tutu's rainbow. In his travels he found a country at odds with itself, swinging between hope and despair, buoyed by a sense of freedom and haunted by a fear of violent crime. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW is not only a fine travel book by an award-winning writer, it is a compelling portrait of a country in search of an identity. The leopard stories are good too.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349112619
ISBN-10: 0349112614
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 126mm x 21mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 1-Feb-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Gavin Bell

Book Reviews - Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Gavin Bell

UK Kirkus Review » Bell, a foreign correspondent in South Africa from 1988-93, saw the workings of the government at first hand as he reported on the last days of apartheid, and glimpsed the transition which was about to take place. Archbishop Desmond Tutu had memorably spoken of South Africa as 'the rainbow nation' - a land with 11 languages and two national anthems - and this book recounts how Bell returned to the country in the late 1990s to see what had become of the image Tutu conjured, 'to present snapshots of a country in search of an identity'. He journeys from Cape Town to Johannesburg, from Soweto to Pretoria and on to the Kruger National Park, taking in East London ('home of the world's only surviving dodo egg') and Aberdeen, which boasts a leaning tower to rival Pisa's. His writing is measured, full of humour, understated and yet luminous. Bell's considerable experience and authority mould his tale; his biggest achievement is to capture both the beauty of the country and the emotional state - schizophrenic, resilient, haunted, buoyed - of its people. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A British journalist who covered South Africa during the apartheid era revisits the country as a tourist and suggests that, while crime and corruption are hurting the new nation, its "exuberant assortment of races and tribes" will somehow survive..As a reporter, Bell wrote only about politics, but in the late 1990s he wanted to see the sights and to learn more about the mix of people Archbishop Desmond Tutu christened the "Rainbow Nation." So he spent six months touring the country, beginning and ending his travels (a mix of conventional sightseeing and journalistic fact-finding) in Cape Town. Bell climbed Table Mountain and visited such historically significant places as St. George's Cathedral, site of many anti-apartheid protests, and Ruben Island, Nelson Mandela's prison for 26 years. But he also attended a session of parliament, from which former foes now emerge arm-in-arm. He met "coloreds," people of mixed race who feel the new African government is ignoring them, and whites like Humpies, an Afrikaans wine farmer who has adjusted to the change but is worried about crime. Bell then traveled west by car to Aplington in the desert, stopping along the way in Orange, a whites-only settlement, and at a farm with a pet cheetah that liked to watch television. He visited Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as tourist spots like the Kruger Game Preserve and the casinos at Sun City. He concludes that South Africans' two great concerns are crime and government corruption. Blacks and whites all cite their fear of the gangs that hijack cars, rape, and kill indiscriminately, turning formerly vibrant city centers into dangerous killing fields..With an eye to the significant as well as the picturesque, this breezy and informative account captures the best and worst of the new South Africa.. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Gavin Bell

After working in a number of countries for Reuters and THE TIMES, Gavin Bell won the 1995 Thomas Cook Travel Award for IN SEARCH OF TUSITALA. He lives in his native Scotland and works as a journalist.

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