A Woman's Odyssey Into Africa: Tracks Across a Life / Edition 1

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Here is the intriguing story of one woman’s mid-life flight from her stultified, middle-class, psychologically crippling, and unfulfilled existence into a world of high adventure, danger, hardship, and endurance, which ultimately leads her to autonomy and recognition.

In her new book, A Woman’s Odyssey Into Africa, Hanny Lightfoot-Klein chronicles three year-long solo backpacking treks through remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa. In the process, she discovers the mainsprings of strength within herself as she follows her own drummer, finding the courage to face the darkest and most secret convolutions of her own mind. She weaves the story of her journey through the men, women, and children she meets, and the dangers and adventures she faces as a lone woman traveler—part and parcel of the path she has chosen to take.

She infuses readers at any stage of life, especially women, with the courage to do what their individual drummer dictates, as she did, to find fulfillment in life. Lightfoot-Klein assures readers in her book: “Even a life of quiet desperation is not beyond redemption. Change starts with a reassessment of the distortions in self image one has been programmed to accept. It starts with an inner rebellion, a realization that something has been amiss and a desire to set it right, if only to leave a better heritage for one’s children. And then, most important of all, it begins with a single, wild, breathless moment, where one picks up an unaccustomed load and steps off into the unknown . . . ” Her message is truly for everyone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More about the author than about Africa, this unusual memoir tells of a woman who regenerates herself in midlife through three yearlong solo backpacking trips. Though the narrative is disorganized and the writing sometimes cliched, the story is often absorbing because the author is so intrepid. A burnt-out English teacher in a ``nightmare'' New York City high school, Lightfoot-Klein, with her children grown, her marriage disintegrating and her lingering health problems resolved, decided at 51 to trek through Africa. While in Sudan, she learned of the barbaric but widespread African custom of female genital excision; obsessed with the story and proud to meet the challenge of life in Sudan, she returned to work on her first book, Prisoners of Ritual: An Odyssey into Female Circumcision in Africa . She intersperses chapters on her background, including a particularly warped family and an invented Native American grandfather, with African adventures both inspiring and cautionary: dealing with the bureaucracy, finding lodgings at police stations, having sexual escapades, eating raw camel's liver and being raped if this happened to author; if not, stet on the beach in Kenya. (May)
Library Journal
Lightfoot-Klein, an educator and family counselor, has written a readable story about her three-year solo backpacking trek into remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Like many Victorian women travelers before her, Lightfoot-Klein takes a midlife flight from her unfulfilled life into a world of adventure. Her explorations of her own nature and responses to danger and hardship stand in vivid contrast to her stultified childhood and marriage. She illustrates how one ordinary middle-aged woman can become extraordinary through determination and curiosity. This story of one woman's efforts to understand herself through trial-by-ordeal travel is engrossing and at times inspiring. The book is part travel, but more a women's studies book. Recommended for public libraries and mental health collections.-- Susan Fifer Canby, National Geographic Soc. Lib., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560230076
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/28/1992
  • Series: Women's Studies Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Letter from Kadugli

  • First Steps
  • The Flight from Egypt
  • Garden
  • A Sudanese Proverb: When Allah Created Sudan, Allah Laughed
  • Costi
  • The Barbaric Practice
  • Sex Education
  • Personal Demons
  • Charade at Wad Cherrifay
  • Small Sins
  • Lightfoot
  • El Shadida
  • The Faces of My Beloved
  • Your Death is Always with You
  • Port Sudan Haute Cuisine
  • Stephanie’s Song
  • Requiem for a Goliath Heron
  • Karen Blixen Never Returned to Africa
  • Krystallnacht Revisited
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