Looking for Lovedu: Days and Nights in Africa
Driving across Africa sounds fun, right? On an adventure vacation,
one of many she's taken for fun and profit, Ann Jones meets up with
a crazy-hearted traveler who decides that it's possible --- and
definitely fun. However, Ann ends up on the wildest trip she could
ever imagine. LOOKING FOR LOVEDU is her story.
In order to fund the trip, Jones happens upon the story of the
hard-to-encounter Queen of the Lovedu (pronounced Low-ay-bay), the
woman warrior who is the leader of this legendary tribe that
thrives on the feminine (and feminist) principles of compromise,
love, and understanding. The quest takes them across the Dark
Continent in five days, but those five days turn out to be
everything that the trippers did not plan.
Jones encounters the ugliness of mud and angry fights with her road
beau: "Sick and exhausted past measure, Muggleton (the road beau)
hoped for a five-star beach resort with surfboards, while I longed
only to rest here among the Pygmies and clap my hands until the
trees began to dance." But then some truly uplifting truths are
revealed with her new traveling companions, a couple of other women
who want to see the real Africa. This is when her journey comes
alive and her quest takes a turn for the serious.
The travelogue that ensues throughout the book is an interesting
look at African history, but it is the very end of the book --- the
actual encounter with the Queen --- that makes LOOKING FOR LOVEDU
an exciting discovery. Jones has an opportunity to experience a
culture few have ever known and, in doing so, changes the way we
all see the patriarchies of the Western world and creates a
yearning for the strange but clear-headed view of the Queen and her
LOOKING FOR LOVEDU feels like a story a good friend is telling over
a good meal --- and is meant to be savored as such.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011