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By Bill Bryson

“Here is a guy who suffers so his readers can laugh.” — Daily Telegraph

Bill Bryson travels to Kenya in aid of CARE foreign. All royalties and earnings visit CARE International.

Bryson visits Kenya on the invitation of CARE overseas, the charity devoted to removing poverty. Kenya is a land of contrasts, with recognized online game reserves and a colourful tradition. It additionally presents lots to fret a vacationer like invoice Bryson, fixated as he's at the hazards posed by means of snakes, bugs and big predators. it's also a rustic with many critical difficulties: refugees, AIDS, drought, and grinding poverty. the ensuing diary, even though brief in size, comprises the trademark Bryson stamp of wry commentary and curious perception.

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A recent theory, for example, attributed the new pottery to Southern N i ­ lotic groups, w h o m t h e author claimed are related to contempo­ rary Kalenj ins in Kenya and might be considered Tutsi and Hima ancestors. l > However, the chronology and styles suggest a different theory, one less concerned with the contemporary obsession with eth­ nicity. Roulett e - decorated pottery has been fo und in southern Sudan, in the Kenyan Rift Valley, near the U vinza ( Tanzania) and Kibiro (Uganda) salt marshes, in western Uganda, in Rwanda, and in Burundi.

2 l Second, the idea that informers would blithely mix up legend and fact must also be viewed with skepticism; in reality, legends are recounted as such. 2 4 Instead of excluding these sources, historians should appreciate what they have to offer (otherwise, wouldn 't The Odyssey be off- limits for historian s ? ) . Stil l , two questions remain : first on t h e w o r k of m e m o r y i n constructing traditions a n d second on chronologies. T h e crystal­ lization of "things of the past" (ivya kera in Kirundi), of "that which (amateka in Kinyarwanda) - what is authoritatively established" we call history - is the fruit of a selection process that is not j ust a didactic summary but also the product of a then-predominant view of the facts in question, whether it is popular rumor or a govern ­ ment's or a lineage 's official version.

In periods of terrible cris i s , the work of memory can t ake a fan tastic turn whereby some marvelous hero em erges from a situation that is describ e d as a catastrophe . That indeed is what happens in s o ­ called origin stories. The older the traditions are , the more deli­ cate their interpretations must be. More often than not, old nar­ ratives reveal more about ancient culture than about factual data, but that contribution is hardly negligible. 2 ' For their part, chronologies are based on calculations derived from gene alogical tables and dynastic lists, both of which p o s e significant prob l e m s .

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