The Passport That Does Not Pass Ports
African Literature of Travel in the Twenty-First Century
African Humanities and the Arts
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
These seventeen pieces on travel in Africa by leading African authors take readers to places at once homelike and foreign. Against the tropes of travel writing, this book offers the acuity of vision of particular types of travelers. These are travelers whose mother tongue may find the hint of familiarity across otherwise unintelligible languages and for whom a foreign land isn’t necessarily strange; in it they perceive vestiges of the familiar. For them, the act of traveling extends a canvas on which to depict someone else’s reality—a reality never too distant from their own. What makes these writings coalesce is a reflection about the act of being in motion, about reconfiguring place; a consciousness of how geography redirects the focus of one’s gaze and, in turn, how that altered gaze filters inward. Having absorbed the landscape, inhaled the scents, paid heed to accents, and accepted the condition of being out of place, these travelers reconstitute individual consciousness and join a collective sense of existing beyond borders. Place inhabits this renewed sense of self; literature enables its expression. An inviting introduction to travel writing on Africa, The Passport That Does Not Pass Ports is absorbing reading for travelers and students of literature alike.
“Africa is not a country, but it must be again—from Cape Town to Cairo, from Dakar to Djibouti—one open land of promise, of peace, and of creativity. Isabel Balseiro and Zachariah Rapola’s anthology is an invitation to that land, by a plural choir of interwoven African voices, among the most powerful. No passport needed.”
—SOULEYMANE BACHIR DIAGNE, Professor, French and Philosophy, and Director, Institute of African Studies, Columbia University