Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden - review by Michael Holman

Michael Holman

Les Fous D’Afrique

Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles


Portobello Books 592pp £25 order from our bookshop

Beware – Africa can be addictive, warns Richard Dowden. What's more, he adds, it can drive you into the ranks of what the French call les fous d'Afrique – those who are driven mad by the continent.

He should know. Bitten by the bug in 1971 as a young man in Uganda, on his first visit to the continent, he has been reporting Africa since 1983. He lost his heart to a Ugandan girl on that trip, and clearly is still in love with Africa – with all the passion and commitment, the tenderness and the jealousy, the hurt and enthusiasm that such a love involves. 

It is through this prism that he looks at the continent and develops his central thesis, summarised at the end of his ambitious survey, which is as much about the mind of Africa as the state of Africa. He is back in Uganda, at one of the funeral services for

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter