East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary

Non-Fiction - Historical
278 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary by Donald R Adams is the memoir of a teacher who served as an education officer in Tanganyika in the early years of the country’s independence, a wonderful blend of historical non-fiction, travel, and adventure. Camping, hunting, and life-changing events are captured in the narrative in language that is highly descriptive. The book introduces readers to the political and historical landscapes of the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika. In the preface, the author offers a glimpse of the historical and cultural atmosphere in the region: “During a two year period in the early 1960's, the three East African territories, Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya, achieved independence from Great Britain. In the time period leading up to independence many expatriate civil servants, including teachers, were leaving work in East Africa and returning to their home countries.” It is against the backdrop of an emerging independence that the events in this book are narrated.

Donald R Adams’ memoir will have a strong appeal to both historians and fans of travel books. While the narrative gives readers powerful glimpses of East Africa in the years before and after independence, it equally provides relevant commentaries on the geography, the culture, and the political environment in the region. The narrative is filled with adventure and readers will enjoy the commentaries. East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary is hugely informative, told by an expatriate who developed a fondness for East Africa and its people. The writing is beautiful and punctuated by colorful images. Adams unveils aspects and images of an East Africa that is still unknown to contemporary readers, a gem for tourists and historians and anyone who desires to learn more about this part of Africa. I enjoyed the way the author weaves aspects of the culture, including language, into the memoir.

Rabia Tanveer

East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary by Donald R Adams is the retelling of the author’s visit to East Africa during the time when the East African territories became independent nations. Specifically set in 1961 till 1963, the author's story takes the reader through his time when he was an education officer in Tanganyika. During that period, the author visited many different countries of East Africa and explored their natural beauty. It made sense for him to capture its essence with his words and images.

His military service was deferred for two years. From the moment Donald R Adams departed from California to New York to take up the opportunity to teach in East Africa, his adventure began. From discovering the natural beauty of Uganda to finding out the exotic nature of Kenya, Donald discovered what he wanted to know and what he didn’t even know he needed to learn. He went to Tanganyika to teach the students there, but he came back two years later with new-found respect for the people who lived in these countries, how they survived, and how they made the best of their circumstances.

While we have the words of Donald R Adams, we also have the pictures he took from the moment he started the process until he landed back in his own country. While words give us a glimpse into his mind, his pictures show us what East Africa looked like back when the nations were becoming independent. It is a brilliant book that feels personal. The author described his adventures and shared his thoughts with readers in a simple yet impressive narrative so that they can feel what he felt back in those days. A wonderful experience.

Jack Magnus

East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary is a memoir written by Donald R. Adams. In the wake of the newly declared independence of Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda in the early 1960s, a British and American program entitled Teachers for East Africa was developed to meet the educational needs of the three new countries. Teachers would be selected by a committee based at Teachers College, Columbia University. They would be trained and given orientation programs, and receive contracts for employment in Africa. Three different categories of applicants were accepted: Certified and experienced teachers, certified but inexperienced teachers, and teachers who had no teaching certification. Adams was one of those who had gotten their certification but had no experience. He participated in orientation and training in New York, London and Uganda, and taught biology and health science at Malangali Secondary School in Tanganyika. He kept a journal of his two-year participation in the program and also documented his experiences through his photography. His journal and photographs also covered the travel adventures he and his colleagues took while they were in Africa.

Donald R. Adams’s East Africa 1960's - By Camera and Diary recaptures his experiences as one of a group of teachers assigned to schools in one of three newly independent African countries. As I read this inspiring and well-written memoir, I couldn’t help but wish that I had been offered such a marvelous opportunity. While I’ve seen colleagues’ photographs and accounts of their safari trips to Africa, nothing I’ve encountered compares to the power and impact of Adams’s photography and journalism. His pictures catch a crucial time in the history of these cultures, and the interactions he and his other young companions have with the people they meet are unique and memorable indeed. I also appreciated the maps the author includes which detail his travel adventures. They give a real feel for the scope of each journey and work quite well with the descriptions of his trips and his trusty Land Rover. What a grand adventure the author had. Reading his memoir one can’t help but feel the enthusiasm -- even after all this time. East Africa, 1960's - By Camera and Diary is most highly recommended.