I am just a girl who loves reading and talking about books
The Adventures of a Mzungu takes a light-hearted look at the ups and downs of travelling and working in Africa, as seen through the eyes of a bewildered novice who had never before wandered outside of the UK. Travel with David on his first visit to a Nairobi shanty town, where he is startled by a Masai security guard, has his first taste of African public transport, and survives an encounter with a water buffalo.
Along the way, David experienced adventures on aeroplanes, at airports, on prison and hospital visits, when he came face-to-face with an ostrich, and when he tried his hand at driving in crazy African traffic. (Rules of the road? What rules? You just give way to anything bigger than you!)
David’s twelve-month visit to Uganda in 2007 brought him closer to the people in its villages, and opened his eyes to the need for training for the village church leaders. He realised that the leaders could not afford to visit the larger towns and cities, so the training needed to go to them.
Over the next few years, David identified a suitable course, undertook the necessary training as a presenter, and is currently presenting the course to church leaders who are, in turn, taking the teaching to even the remotest villages.
The Adventures of a Mzungu is a thought-provoking account of David’s experiences that will both aid and inspire those thinking about volunteering in charitable organisations, whether Christian-based or secular.
The Adventures of a Mzungu by David Ardron is a memoir about David’s missionary work in Africa. The first thing that drew me to the book was the title. Mzungu is a Swahili word which means white person. Seeing Swahili on a book title and on NetGalley was kinda exciting for me. I didn’t even notice that the story is partly set in Nairobi (my hometown) until after I got the book. Yeah, I just requested it based on the title.
Reading books set in Africa written by foreigners is always a bit tricky. As a child of the continent, I never really know what to expect. In Africa, there is a view about how the world views us versus how we view ourselves. There are two kinds of Africa; the Mzungu Africa and the Africa that we know. The Mzungu Africa is not recognizable to most people in this continent.I think it is based on what is shown in the international media. This is what makes some people ask us questions such as whether we live on trees, own wild animals, wear clothes, have food to eat(yeah, we still get those questions). I don’t blame those who ask these questions though, maybe it is just what they know based on media representation of the continent. Therefore; I anxiously started reading David’s memoir, hoping for a fair portrayal of Africa.
I am glad to say that this memoir turned out to be as light-hearted as described. His adventures in Africa made me smile and sometimes laugh. It was interesting to read about his experiences in Nairobi (Kenya) and Uganda. What he described were things that are familiar to me like the use of bodabodas(motorbikes used as taxis), crazy bus rides on bad roads. These are part of my day to day life but reading them from a different PoV added a new, interesting twist to normal experiences and made them seem so funny and interesting.
Reading David’s story reminded me of a Mzungu friend of mine from Germany who once told me that Kenyans are way too touchy. He found it odd that people touch strangers (taps mostly). I remember looking at him like he was out of his mind and asking him, ‘If I don’t know your name and I want to get your attention, how would I do it?’ You see, if Kenyans want to get your attention and they don’t know your name, they will touch you. A tap on the shoulder, arm and sometimes, many taps or a light grip on the arm, I mean, how else do we get your attention? We don’t know your name, so we touch you. That is how we communicate with strangers in buses or busy streets. Like if the bus conductor wants to collect bus fare from the people seated far from him, he will tap the nearest passengers, who will then tap the ones in front of them until the message is communicated. Sometimes, no words are exchanged. Yeah, we excel in non-verbal communication. It is such a normal thing that I found it odd that my friend noticed it and then he told me that in Germany, people don’t touch strangers but they shout to get their attention.Lol, you do not shout at strangers in Kenya. Seriously, don’t do it!
Anyway, I digress. What I mean is that David had a way of describing his experiences in a way that was relatable. It felt like I was reading about the experiences of my Mzungu friend and so I found myself really enjoying the book. The chapters are short and each one is titled based on the main experience highlighted. There were titles such as So, This is Uganda, Three Men on a Motorbike and my favourite one, Good Old Land rover.
The Adventures of a Mzungu by David Ardron is not just about his experiences in Africa, it is also about mission work and volunteering. David uses his experiences to provide some guidance to other people interested in volunteer work. I also liked the fact that his faith is evident through the pages. He makes references to scriptures throughout the book. Using his experiences to offer encouragement and basing this on Christian teachings. This book is motivational and quite informative.
This is the kind of book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to know what it is like to visit Africa. The experiences are shared in an honest, light manner which I found quite enjoyable to read. As I said, these are things that I get to see every day but reading about them from a foreigner’s PoV just brought a whole new perspective to them. It brought up some interesting aspects of cultural differences. A couple of times I found myself thinking;”well I thought that happens everywhere, kwani how do they do it in their country?”
I also recommend The Adventures of a Mzungu by David Ardron to anyone who would like to get into ministry and understand what it entails to follow God’s calling. Anyone interested in volunteer work in Africa or any part of the world will also benefit from reading this memoir. It can be volunteer work in religious or secular organizations. Perhaps, it could be a deployment to another part of the world. If you have ever wondered how it would be like to give up your life and all that is familiar to you and go to another part of the world for service of God, your Country or humanity in general then this is the book for you. As I have already mentioned, it is not just about his experiences in Africa but he shares personal stories that act as a guidance for anyone who is considering a life of service.
ps: This is not related to the book directly but David’s story reminded me about the story of Daniel Christos, the Australian backpacker who recently made new headlines when he came to Kenya. If you want to read his story then just look for articles on Jesus in Nairobi.