Alterity and the Imperial Agenda:
Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa
and Gerald Durrell's The Bafut Beagles


Edward O. Ako and Blossom N. Fondo

Université de Yaounde I, République du Cameroun

Copyright © 2003 by Edward O. Ako and Blossom N. Fondo, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. Copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the editors are notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the authors.

  1. Travel writing, which in a sense has to do with an individual translating and interpreting foreign societies and cultures to his or her own audience, is not only concerned with the presentation of quaint and exotic lands. Often, as in the case of Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa and Gerald Durrell's The Bafut Beagles,[1]the two works we are concerned with here, the travelogue is intended to fulfil some strategic role for the writer's country of origin or for the country or organisation that has made the trip possible. This is particularly true of British travel writers, given Britain's central role in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the "queen of the waves" and the world's foremost imperial power. Travelogue as strategic discourse especially characterizes the nineteenth century, when coastal exploration seemed no longer adequate. In so far as the African continent is concerned, the founding of the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa in 1788 set the tone and paved the way for more travellers to reveal the hidden "secrets" of the continent. As David Mountfield reminds us: without entering into the hows and whys of the colonization of Africa, it is clear that interest in and knowledge of the African interior was largely created by the tales of the explorers of the nineteenth century. It is hard to imagine the "scramble" for African colonies without the previous exploration (10). And commenting on the dual purpose of what she calls the period of "planetary consciousness," Mary Louise Pratt notes that:
    Expeditions mounted in the name of science, like Cook's to the South Seas in the 1760s and 1770s, often went under secret orders to look out for commercial opportunities and threats. That the orders were there, yet were secret, suggests the ideological dialectic between scientific and commercial enterprises. On the one hand commerce was understood as at odds with the disinterestedness of science. On the other, the two were believed to mirror and legitimate each other's aspirations. (33-34)

  2. Thus, scientific curiosity and industrial and commercial interests became bedfellows as travel literature became an instrument of expansion and domination. Pratt once more underlines this point when she states that "natural history asserted an urban, lettered, male authority over the whole of the planet, it elaborated a rationalizing, extractive, dissociative understanding which overlaid functional, experiential relations among people, plants and animals. . . . In these respects, it figures a certain kind of global hegemony, notably one based on possession of land and resources rather than control over routes" (Pratt 33-4). [2]

  3. But expansion and domination had to be couched in moral terms; it was the responsibility of travel writers to re-assure the Victorian public of the moral uprightness of any action that Britain could and did carry out in its eventual "outpost(s) of progress." [3] The strategy was in the representations and constructions of the Other, in orientalising or 'africanizing' the "native." Commenting on the differences between "truth" and representations in cultural discourse, Edward Said in Orientalism notes that:
    Cultural discourse and exchange within a culture that is commonly circulated by it is not "truth" but representations. It hardly needs to be demonstrated again that language itself is a highly organised and encoded system, which employs many devices to express, indicate, exchange messages and information, and so forth. In any instance of at least written language, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but a re-presence, or a representation. . . . [T]he written statement is a presence to the reader by virtue of its having excluded, displaced, made supererogatory any such real thing . . . (21)
    As we will see in the discussions that follow, both Kingsley and Durrell focus on uncomely illustrations of Africans as against heroic representations of Europeans, thus justifying the need for them to reach out to these inferior beings and thereby cancelling out any misgivings that the home public might have had about the imperial process.

  4. The discourse of travel literature is geared towards "the production of the images of the other, images that demean and, by demeaning, control" (Gilman 240). These images or descriptions, as Aijaz Ahmad also notes, are "never ideologically or cognitively neutral." To "describe" is to specify a locus of meaning, to construct an object of knowledge, and to produce a knowledge that will be bound by that act of descriptive construction. "Description" has been central, for example, in the colonizing discourses. It was by assembling a monstrous machinery of descriptions -- in fields as various as ethnology, fiction, photography, linguistics, political science -- that these discourses were able to classify and ideologically master colonial subjects, enabling the transformation of descriptively verifiable multiplicity and difference into the ideologically felt hierarchy of value (Ahmad 99).

  5. Both Mary Kingley and Gerald Durrell contributed to this 'monstrous machinery of descriptions.' Kingsley, orphaned in her early thirties, decided to follow the tradition set by her father and elder brother who studied and travelled to "exotic" places. She was given a stipend to travel to West and Central Africa in 1893 and 1895 to obtain rare species of fish. She more than accomplished her mission, since she identified 65 new species of fish and 18 new species of reptile. Further, she evidently was the first European to penetrate some of the remote areas of Gabon. Sixty years later, Gerald Durrell followed Mary Kingsley's footsteps, armed with nets and cages to collect fauna specimens. He captured almost everything from flying mice to booming squirrels. Unlike Kingsley, Durrell's travels took him beyond West and Central Africa. Besides the Cameroons, which he visited three times between 1953 and 1960, he also went to Guiana, Paraguay, Mauritius and Madagascar. The observations and information these collectors provided in their travel accounts became important sources of ethnographic information on the people among whom they travelled.

  6. The representation of these people in their accounts, however, was not without a "political" motive. We must remember that Kingley's travels occurred right after the Berlin Conference, during which Great Britain -- along with other European imperial powers -- consolidated its hold on African colonies. Her work coincided, for instance, with British 'pacification' of various parts of Nigeria, a process that ended with the destruction of Benin in 1897. At the end of the century, then, readers of British colonial discourse needed to have England's often bloody conquests justified. This task could be accomplished in various ways, including pointing accusingly at even worse regimes (such as King Leopold's administration of the Congo), presenting colonialism as a progressive scientific, commercial, or religious endeavor (thus labouring for the 'good of mankind'), picturing African lands and peoples as dangerous (thus providing a proper field for English heroics), or conversely by picturing African lands and peoples as statically underdeveloped (and thus needing enlightened development). Although Kingley's background, temporament, and gender contributed to a somewhatless strident depiction of Africans than that common to other European writers, her book participates in many of these justifying strategies.

  7. Whereas Kingley wrote at the high noon of empire, Gerald Durrell wrote at its twilight. His work in the Cameroons coincided exactly with the break-up of British suzereignity in Africa -- the Mau-Mau Rebellion in Kenya (1952-56), the anti-colonial movements that led to independence for Sudan (1956) and Ghana (1957), indeed, the struggles for independence all over the continent that would lead to the almost complete dissolution of European control by the early 1960s. Therefore, it is not surprising that Durrell's travel narrative had different ideological work to do. Perhaps paradoxically, it was necessary to justify the 'loss' of empire . . . to convince home readers that Britain's African colonies were not worth the trouble to administer them. Some of the strategies used in 'High Colonial' Discourse were employed for different ends, notably the descriptions of African lands and peoples. What we see in Durrell is a rather ironic stance, one that still maintains the bwana/servant dichotomy but does so in a way that renders both positions ludicrous. We also see a twist in the landscape-description conventions of colonial travel writing. Kingsley's verbal paintings buttress the idea of 'Africa' as a beautiful bounty, waiting to be harvested, mined, or collected; Durrell's equally vivid landscape descriptions are at once vaguely comic, as they contrast so sharply with the almost slapstick descriptions of people, and vaguely seductive, as if tourists (scientific and otherwise) rather than colonial administrators and settlers were being solicited.

  8. Finally, Travels in West Africa and The Bafut Beagles share a distancing strategy that might be called 'argument by contiguity.' Kingsley and Durrell were British citizens, but they travelled not to British colonies but to French- and German-run territories neighboring British holdings in Africa. Their postings from empire, then, could be read as disinterested accounts of colonial reality that did not necessarily implicate Great Britain. They gave the English a certain 'cover,' allowing their audience to imagine Britain as part of a globalized European project (and, of course, handling this project better than its rivals) but distancing the homeland from the project's less savory aspects.

  9. Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa quite obviously subscribes to prevailing colonial ideas about the value of trade and exploration. Deborah Birkett has noted that Kingsley participated very actively in the politics of expansionism on behalf of a particular political position and that she is a good example of an explorer who located herself within the project of empire. Kingsley was fully convinced that Britain had a "right to amass territory throughout the world"; for her, "traders in West Africa served their nation by obtaining raw materials from, and selling British manufactures to, Africans" (Kingsley 116). She claims that she came to West Africa as "an entomologist and ichthyologist" and that she was mainly interested in the "small-scale life forms in the unexplored mangrove swamps." Even if there is some truth to this statement, there is probably more in Jeanne Canizzo's opinion that "specimens . . . were sent home . . . to promote the commercial potential of the regions described" (142).

  10. It is in the representations of the "natives" Kingsley interacts with that the ideological content of her travelogue is most apparent. For example, she represents the people of Buea (who live at the foot of Mount Cameroon in that country's South West Province) and by extension, Africans in general, as wanting in value, norm, intellect and sense of direction. The chiefs are presented as nuisances. She states that "no sooner have I taken an unclean looking chief off the wooden sofa, than I observe another one has silently seated himself in the middle of my open portmanteau. Removing him and shutting it up, I see another one has settled on the men's beef and rice" (557). The point here is that the people are unimproved and are available for improvement. If the chiefs who are the embodiment of the values of their people are as irresponsible as they are presented here, then the whole area is just a stretch of chaos and disorder that calls for western intervention to set things right.

  11. When Kingsley leaves her camp to explore further afield, she goes with a heavy heart because she is worried that a thousand tragedies may befall the Africans she has left behind. Concerned that she may be failing in her moral responsibility towards her wards, she decides to "go back to camp, for night is coming on and I know my men will require intellectual support in the matter of procuring firewood" (589). And at night, she has to "get up more than once to put out the fire that is already upon some of them" (589). They are despondent when she goes away, and jubilant when she returns. And they show their joy not only through ululations, but through gifts of palmwine and eggs as if to ensure that the goddess will continue to shower them with blessings. To them, or so Kingsley will have us believe, she is both a mother and a father, a "very stern though kind set of parents." Without her, life has no meaning and no value to these people: she informs the reader that if she collapsed, they too "would have laid down and died in the cold sleety rain" (587) The obvious and inevitable question is, how did these people manage to survive all these years without the ministering hand of Kingsley or her ilk?

  12. Kingsley's rhetoric constructs the "fact" that her presence is not only uncontested but desirable. And if she is to leave the people at some point, it will be necessary for proper arrangements to be made for their "protection." Not only the people are presented as her natural allies and her natural subjects; the landscape seems to be an embodiment and an extension of the people's feelings and attitudes. Like them, it is wild and untamed but offers no resistance to her meddlesome forays; as she notes, "the great palms and red woods rise up in the mist before us, and fade out in the mist behind us as we pass on" (555). If anything, nature here becomes a kind of shield protecting her from those who, out of "ignorance," may momentarily want to contest her authority. We are made to believe that nature responds this way because it is in need of the beautifying, organizing, and conserving intervention of Europe, for she notes that "the quantities of things that are left loose in Africa, that ought to be kept in menageries and greenhouses are enough to try a saint" (601). This attempt at ordering nature was not only a means of revealing its contents but also of controlling and eventually exploiting it.

  13. As part of the overall agenda, the landscape is presented in a way that seems to be beckoning Britain to conquer and possess it, for on several occasions, she focuses on its exquisite beauty. For instance, Kingsley informs her readers that the soil is "exceedingly rich" and adds that:
    the vegetation here is at the point of its supreme luxuriance, owing to the richness of the soil; the leaves of trees and plants I recognize elsewhere are here far larger and the undergrowth particularly is more rich. . . . Ferns seem to find a veritable paradise. Everything, in fact, is growing at its best. (602)
    And she presents the area called Ambas Bay (located between the port cities of Douala and Limbe) as a place without any parallel anywhere. It is "without doubt the most fertile spot on the whole western side of the continent of Africa and experienced mariners say that it has few rivals . . . in any region of the world" (610). Victoria (located near Buea and named after Queen Victoria) is also presented in superlative terms. She argues that "it is an "unthinkable thing that there can be any place more perfect in loveliness, majesty, colour and charm" (601). And in this game of enticing the home authorities to occupy the region, she, in keeping with the aesthetics of travel writing, uses many adjectival modifiers. The forest is presented as "grand, "the mountains well-rounded," the palms and the country "gloriously lovely." The flank of the mountain known as Mah Etindeh (in Buea) is "magnificent," the estuary is "glorious," the cascading Lukole river (in Victoria) "lovely." The use of rich visual imagery in an attempt to make the unfamiliar familiar -- and desirable -- is further seen in the bright colours she employs to describe the vegetation around Buea. She states that "the effects produced by the seed-ears of the long grass round us are very beautiful; they look a golden brown, and each ear and leaf is gemmed with dew drops and those of the grass on the sides of the hillocks at a little distance off show a soft brown pink" (573).

  14. We see the same technique at work in this description of Buea mountain, which is presented as "sometimes . . . wreathed with indigo-black tornado clouds, sometimes crested with snow, sometimes softly gorgeous with gold, green and rose-coloured vapours tinted by the setting sun . . ." (550). She equally uses similes in this attempt to bring the African landscape to the living room of the British when, in describing the Island of Mondoleh (off the Victoria coast), she notes that "it always looks to me like one of those flower-stands at home with wire-work legs" (610-11).

  15. Commenting upon such strategies, Pratt claims that "estheticization in Kingsley is replaced by a relentlessly comic irony applied to herself and those around her" and that her book owes its "popularity to this masterful comic irreverence." But as we have already demonstrated, Kingsley, like her male counterparts, focused on both the esthetic qualities and deficiencies of the landscapes she traversed. The esthetic qualities constituted the social and material value to her home culture while the aesthetic deficiencies were intended to underline the need for social and material intervention by the home culture. It appears to us that it is not altogether appropriate to say "that far from imagining a civilizing or beautifying intervention, she contemplated only the silly possibility of damaging Africa." Perhaps what is at play is an example of colonial dualism. While Kingsley "was often critical and prescient in questioning the relevance of missionaries in African societies" (Romero, 43), she did believe that Britain had a right to amass territory and to seek new markets for its manufactured goods. Above all, she felt that "traders in West Africa served their nation by obtaining raw materials from, and selling British manufactures to, Africans" (Stevenson 116). Thus, she wanted to "protect" the Africans and at the same time saw their land as virgin territory to be exploited by the British. Pratt's claims that Kingsley's "comic and self-ironic persona indelibly impresses itself on any reader of her book" and that her popularity is due to this "masterful irreverence" (213, 215) may be true for a non-African audience. But what the Buea chiefs see in her sojourn among them, and what African readers see in the text, is neither the "comic and self-ironic persona" nor the "masterful irreverence"; rather, it is the negative representations and that sick pastime of laughing at, rather than with, others.

  16. In Gerald Durrell's The Bafut Beagles, the strategies used to present the other, be it people or land, are very much the same as those employed by Kingsley. They are based on Manichean oppositions of the savage and the civilized, of chaos and order, of patient and healer, of darkness and light. Like the Buea chiefs in Kingsley's text, the Fon of Bafut (in the North West Province of Cameroon) is portrayed as a caricature; he is almost always drunk and on one occasion, he removes his royal apparel in order to participate personally in the hunting expedition to ensure that Durrell's will is done. Thus, from the Fon downwards, everyone is at the white man's disposal: carrying his luggage, preparing food for him, and housing him in the "wonderful great villa . . . built in case he (the Fon) had any European visitor" (11). This implies, of course, that the European presence is both anticipated and welcomed. Of course, when Durrell talks of the chief's "royal apparel" and "wonderful great villa," we are intended to note a comic disconnect: the Fon is anything but "royal," and the villa is anything but "wonderful" (and, no doubt, anything but a "villa").

  17. To illustrate the eagerness with which the Bafutians are willing to serve Durrell, he narrates an incident in which one of the hunters whom he code-names "The Bafut Beagles" is shocked that his other kinsmen speak to him rudely in spite of his new status as Durrell's hunter, a status which perhaps makes of him an "honorary Englishman." The hunter asks, certainly with righteous indignation: "You no go shout me like that, my friend. You no savvay dat I be Bafut Beagle?" (36). Thus, contact with Europe is a kind of transformative agent which lifts this Bafut hunter from his subaltern status. But, as the broad dialect or "petit Négre" shows, the transformation is, alas, also downward, as the whole scene resembles the "humour" of a minstrel show. On another occasion, we are presented with the cupidity, callousness and insensitivity of the people when Durrell promises a certain amount of money to whomever would catch a female hyrax. During the hunt, the female hyrax comes out of its hole and bites a hunter's leg. Jacob the cook, anxious to get the money, is reported to have closed his eyes to the suffering of his brother. He "grasped the unfortunate Beagle's foot and stuffed it into the bag, together with the hyrax." And of Jacob's behaviour, Durrell muses: "his . . . action was not I fear the result of any sympathetic consideration of his black brother, but prompted rather by the thought that unless something was done quickly, the female hyrax might escape, in which case he will get no money"(60). Such contrasts in linguistic and participatory registers are obviously intended to underscore the silliness of the Bafutians: their "comic actions" as well as their "comic English" are made more evident through juxtaposition with the archly formal, detached narrative voice.

  18. One of the points that Durrell seems to be making all through his narrative is that the Bafutians do not seem to know the value of their fauna; in any case, at no point do they give the impression that he is depriving them of their natural heritage. On the contrary, they are only happy to help him cart away as many animals as he possibly can. Besides accompanying him on hunting expeditions, they individually go looking for animals for him. He is amazed at the outcome. He tells us:
    . . . the grass-gathering ceremony produced the most astonishing results . . . I opened the door and then stopped dead wondering if I was dreaming, for the whole veranda was literally covered with a weird assortment of snakes, while leaning up against the wall were four or five bamboos to the ends of which were tied writhing and infuriating snakes. "What's all this?" I asked. "Beef" said Jacob succinctly. (94)
    Thus, Durrell ends up with "a large and varied enough collection of creatures to start a small zoo" (149). And so, he decides that it is time to leave Bafut. The Fon, as was to be expected, will have none of it. As soon as he hears the news, we are told he "came flying over, clasping a bottle of gin, and did his best to persuade me to stay" (136). Realising that he cannot dissuade his guest from leaving, he says lamely, "My people's sorry too much you leave Bafut. All this people go remember you and u no go forget Bafut eh?" (48). And, as if to place his kingdom eventually under British "protection," the Fon adds: "when u go for your country, sometime you go tell your people de Fon of Bafut na your friend an' 'e done get all this fine beef eh?" (137). Here again, comic actions are propped up by comic language, Durrell having taken pains to destroy the Fon's dignity not only rendering his speech in as absurd a way as possible but also by not taking the care to standardize his 'pidgin' orthography ("you" is sometimes "u" and sometimes "you").

  19. Durrell's rhetoric is fully intended to reinforce the idea that the Bafutians are non-humans or sub-humans. He puts people and animals in the same category: he notes, for instance, that the African and the monkey have a lot in common; when he selects the hunters and dogs to help him in his collecting expedition, he says: "I called this untidy ensemble of men and dogs the Bafut Beagles." (30) Apparently, he thought his appellation clever enough to use as the title for the entire book. And when he is not lumping Africans with animals, he is dumping on their intelligence. Thus he adds that though the "hunters did not understand the meaning of this [name, the Bafut Beagles], they grew extremely proud of it." Throughout his account, Durrell refers to his hosts as "stupid man," "bushman," "pagan tribesman," "moron," "woolly skull." In this regard, Homi Bhabha does well to remind us that "the objective of colonial discourse is to construe the colonized as a racially degenerate population in order to justify conquest and rule" (70). But Durrell's book reminds us that such constructions also served to justify -- or at least to explain -- the "abandonment" of rule. The Bafut Beagles may show a nostalgia for empire, as suggested by the way it recycles tired tropes from colonial discourse: the inept and ludicrous Beagles still need leadership and control. Yet the constant use of belittling humor implies that the colonial enterprise is not, at bottom, serious stuff.

  20. Though the people are degenerate or simply an improved version of the monkey, their land, on the other hand, is rich and inviting. The soil is described as "rich red earth," the trees are of "enormous sizes," their branches, the forest creepers and the tree ferns are massive. In the attempt to aestheticize the landscape to appeal to the visual sense of the home audience, Durrell describes the whole environment as a picturesque tableau. He tells us "the great pile of rocks, the bright flowers and the shaggy misshapen trees . . . formed a wonderful picture against the smouldering blue of the afternoon sky" (38). If for Mary Kingsley Ambas Bay is "the most fertile spot on the whole western side of the continent of Africa" and has "few rivals . . .in any region of the world!" (610), Durrell's feelings about the Bafut mountains are very much the same. Looking at the mountain, he says: "I decided as I squatted there, peering between the branches of the bush we sheltered under watching the mountain waken, that it is worth feeling tired, cold, hungry, worth being drenched with dew and suffering cramps in other to see such a sight" (47). [4] He further describes the setting sun in very vivid colors. He tells us that as the sun sank behind a grid of elongated clouds, the clouds "turned from white to pearly pink and then flushed to crimson edged with a touch of gold with pale trembling stars gaining strength as the world darkened. Presently, the moon came up, blood red at first, changing to yellow and then to silver as she rose, turning the world to a frosty silver with shadows as black as charcoal" (144). This elaborate word-painting is not without ironic twists for the romantic lushness is set against the mundane antics of the people who live in these glorious surroundings. More important, perhaps, is the feeling that this lavish description of the sunset is indicative of a sad nostalgia for an empire now being lost; that British Empire on which, so the saying goes, the sun never sets. Consequently, the rich images of pearl and gold being eclipsed by darkness, by charcoal, are allegories of the "end" of Empire.

  21. Durrell is constantly mindful of the need to make the remote and strange familiar to his British audience. For example, he describes animal noise by saying that "it started like a groan, and as it got louder, it took on a throbbing vibrating note, the sort of thrumming you hear from telegraph poles." (52) Again, he likens the Bafut hills to a part of England when he notes that "the smoothly crumpled hills covered with the pastel-tinted grass could have been an English scene: the downland country of the south on a larger scale" (14). Talking about the use of these strategies, Elleke Boehmer notes that "travellers and colonizers relied on and scattered about them the stock descriptions and authoritative symbols that lay to hand. They transferred familiar metaphors which are themselves bridging devices, to unfamiliar and unlikely contexts. Strangeness was made comprehensible by using everyday names, dependable textual conventions, both rhetorical and syntactic" (14). These conventions are woven almost seamlessly into Kingsley's text; but in Durrell's they show signs of stress, as evidenced by their hyperbolic figuration and their ornamental excess.

    * * *

  22. The two texts studied clearly demonstrate, indeed confirm, that in the 19th and 20th centuries, expeditions carried out in the name of science were also concerned with looking out for commercial opportunities. The travelogues contained coded messages intended for the home audience and colonial authorities. Moreover, they confirm what Bhabha has called the "concept of fixity" in the construction of otherness, despite the fact that Kingsley and Durrell's texts are separated by more than six decades, the one at the height of empire and the other during its wane, or that one author is female and the other male. Such fixity connotes rigidity and an unchanging order as well as disorder, degeneracy and daemonic repetition, and the "stereotype, which is its major discursive strategy, is a form of knowledge and identification that vacillates between what is always in "place, already known, and something that must be anxiously repeated . . . as if what is ascertained can never really, in discourse, be proved" (Bhabha 70). Travelogues of the "postcolonial" period are still built on discourses of negation, devaluation and domination; that is, on constructions of alterity.[5] And this amounts to saying that plus ça change, plus ça reste le même, for, as others have noted, the "post" in postcolonial is not genuine in any sense, for "covert mercantile neo-colonialism, potent successor to modern colonialism, continues its virtually unchallenged march across the face of the earth, ensuring that the wretched will remain so" (Bahri 59). Mary Kingley's Travels in West Africa and Gerald Durrell's The Bafut Beagles, then, are signposts along this march; if the march itself cannot be challenged, at least the signposts can be.


  1. For today's reader, Kingsley's title would be regarded as a kind of misnomer because countries like Cameroon and Gabon are now regarded as being in Central Africa, not West Africa. It should be noted that Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) published more than 37 books focusing on his world-wide explorations, his observations of the animal world, and the stories of his life as a naturalist. Surprisingly, there is hardly ever any mention of Durrell in discussions of travel literature. Back

  2. In discussing the works of Durrell and Kingsley, we intend to stress the fact that both male and female travellers and explorers were involved in the construction-of-otherness game. Alison Blunt notes that although Victorian patriarchy deemed women to be inferior, non-western women were doubly inferior, being women and being non-white. They were an even more conspicuous commodity than their Western sisters: they were part of the goods of empire, the living rewards that white men could, if they wished, reap (29). Eva-Marie Kröller's essay, "First Impressions: Strategies in Travel Writing by Victorian Women," addresses, albeit from a different angle, some of the issues raised in our essay. Back

  3. The reference here is to Joseph Conrad's novel of that title. Back

  4. Durrell's outburst here can be compared to that of Richard Burton who on seeing the object of his quest, said: "Truly it was a revel for soul and sight. Forgetting toils, dangers, and the doubtfulness of return, I felt willing to endure double what I had endured, and all the party seemed to join with me in Joy" (qtd. in Pratt 205). Mary Louise Pratt notes that African members of travellers' parties did get caught up in the excitement of quests such as Burton's and Durrell's. The writing convention that marshals their reactions to confirm the Europeans' achievement subordinates their response, assigns them the task of carrying their masters' (and because there were also women, mistresses') emotional baggage along with the rest of their stuff (see Pratt 205). Back

  5. I am thinking of such modern-day travel writers as the Anglo-American Paul Theroux and the Italian Alberto Moravia. For more on this, see Pratt's "From the Victoria Nyanza to the Sheraton San Salvador" in Imperial Eyes. Back

Works Cited

Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. New York: Verso, 1992.

Bahri, Deepika. "Once More with Feeling: What is Postcolonialism?" Ariel 26.1 (1995): 51-82.

Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.

Birkett, Deborah. "West Africa's Mary Kingsley." History Today 37 (May 1987): 10-16.

Blunt, Alison. Travel, Gender, and Imperialism. N.Y: The Guildford Press, 1994.

Boehmer, Elleke. Colonial and Post Colonial Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Canizzo, Jeanne. "Doctor Livingstone Collects." In David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa. Ed. John M. Mackenzie. London: National Portrait Gallery Publications, 1996. 139-168.

Durrell, Gerald. The Bafut Beagles. 1954; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958.

Fondo, Blossom Ngum. "Travel Literature and the Imperial Agenda: A study of Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa and Gerald Durrell's The Bafut Beagles". Unpublished 'maîtrise' dissertation in English, (Commonwealth Literary Studies), The University of Yaounde I, 2001.

Gilman, Sander. Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race and Madness. Ithaca NY: Cornell UP, 1985.

Kingsley, Mary. Travels in West Africa. 1897; rpt. London: Frank Cass, 1965.

Kröller, Eva-Marie. "First Impressions: Strategies in Travel Writing by Victorian Women." Ariel 21.4 (October 1990): 87-99.

Mountfield, David. A History of African Exploration. London: Hamlyn, 1996.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992.

Romero, Patricia W. Women's Voices in Africa. A Century of Travel Writings. Princeton: Markus Wiener, 1992.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. 1978; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987.

Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. Victorian Women Travel Writers in Africa. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982.

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