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Native Stranger: A Black American's Journey Into the Heart of Africa.

Almost 40 years ago, Richard Wright wrote Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos, a book a bout his first contact with Africa. While grappling with the complexities involved, Wright asked himself: "How much of me is African?"

In Native Stranger, Eddy Harris faces a similar dilemma. Like Wright, he struggles to bridge a cultural chasm, to overcome the anxiety of being of African descent but alienated from Africa. It is a crisis of identity he never resolves.

After some 15 trips to Africa, I too have moments when I am not sure about my ancestral roots and my relationship with my African past.

For the first-time visitor, the vastness of Africa--with its kaleidoscope of language and culture--can create a terrifying quandary. Harris sidesteps much of the morass; he eloquently conveys impressions of the myth, magic and mystery of the ancestors he desperately wants to know, but cannot, because of cultural differences.

Harris realizes the disparity is irreducible. "A year is not enough. A traveler cannot possibly see all there is to see and know all there is to know. Not in one year, nor in 10. It would perhaps be better to live and travel like the tortoise, who spends the 150 years of its life moving slowly, learning intimately every inch of ground it covers. Going so far and so fast, as I was doing, a traveler sees the world rush by like streaks of rain on the windscreen of a speeding car. In the blur there are slashes of color, little bites of life. The best I could hope for was to stand back from the tableau and absorb it, to let the myriad impressions come together and offer an image."

While the author succeeds on this level, you may wish for a more complete view of the diversity of African class, culture and psychology. However, Harris moves more like the hare, creating a depthless smear, albeit, well-told story.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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