Sawubona, I See You

Stories by a Former Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa

Non-Fiction - Memoir
48 Pages
Reviewed on 04/16/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Sawubona, I See You is a memoir by Daniel Stantus narrating his experiences as a former Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 1970s in Swaziland, Africa. The book contains six short stories based on his own life experiences in the exotic, wild, and untamed locales of the kingdom of Swaziland, now better known as Eswatini. Daniel regales readers with personal anecdotes of how he traversed some of the most remote and unknown regions of Southern Africa, mingled with the local populace, and sought to understand an unfamiliar yet rich and vibrant culture. These humorous tales include trying to build a sanitary toilet, unwittingly becoming the sports master of a high school without any prior experience, being skeptical about witchcraft and then having to doublethink, and much more.

Brace yourselves for a tour of Swaziland in the early 1970s, where a Peace Corps Volunteer recounts his days of wonder and amazement, serving a country and people rich in culture and history. Author Daniel Stantus's invigorating personal anecdotes about trying to embrace a culture and landscape so different from his own strike a chord in your heart and keep you engaged from the get-go. The stories are riveting, giving outsiders a rare glimpse of a land full of vibrant people with their own unique heritage and lifestyles. Stantus infuses humor and warmth into each story to make them feel authentic and thoroughly entertaining to read. I had a wonderful time reading Sawubona, I See You. Highly recommended.

Michelle Stanley

Ted Kennedy once said: “It’s better to send in the Peace Corps than the Marine Corps." In his memoir, Sawubona, I See You: Stories of a Former Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, Daniel Stantus shares his experiences. Fifty years have passed since he was first assigned to work as a Peace Corps teacher in Swaziland, now called Eswatini. There were cultural differences and misunderstandings that occasionally caused friction, but Daniel did his best not to offend anyone. It took a while for him to adjust to living without all the modern conveniences such as a bathroom, electricity, and commodities that he took for granted in the United States. Teaching turned out to be a unique experience, requiring innovation to cope without the proper equipment and materials. Some teachers and students could not conform or adapt to the suggested changes that Daniel knew would either improve conditions or benefit the school. Many superstitious persons were also wary of him, especially after he performed CPR to revive an injured student.

“The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.” - Sergeant Shriver. One of the things I noted about Daniel Stantus' four-year tour as a Peace Corps teacher in the 70s is how creative he had to be when suddenly thrust into leadership roles in projects he was not trained for. People looked to him for guidance and it was amusing to see his modern ideas and beliefs clash with those of another country that was far behind in technology and unfamiliar with western customs. Learning to ride a bike was also entertaining to me. If you want a glimpse into the role and functions of the Peace Corps, as well as anecdotes, then I recommend this memoir, Sawubona, I See You.

Philip Van Heusen

What is the Peace Corps, and what does a Peace Corps volunteer do? Peace Corps volunteers represent the United States of America and its goodness. Basically, they are goodwill ambassadors around the world. For example, from 1970 to 1974, Daniel Stantus represented the US in Swaziland. This small, southeastern African country, now known as Eswatini, is highlighted in Sawubona, I See You: Stories by a Former Peace Corps Teacher in Africa. Daniel was a young teacher used to the comforts that are common in America. This book tells the story of his transition from the amenities of Seattle to the spartan conditions of Africa. His adventures are humorous, dangerous, and curious. Reading this book will enlighten you on the work of the Peace Corps and the vast cultural differences around the globe.

Deadly poisonous snakes and frightening witchdoctors all play a role in Daniel Stantus’s adventures in Swaziland (Eswatini). Can you imagine enjoying the peaceful sound of nature being disrupted by a warrior attacking your house? Unfortunately, the road system in Swaziland is poor at its very best. Daniel shares his driving/riding adventures in Sawubona, I See You. Do you think the subway in New York is overcrowded? Wait until you learn about the trucks and buses used for travel in Swaziland. This book was one of the most interesting I have read in a long time. Each page brings a new adventure. Truth can be much more fascinating than fiction! This book goes on my read-again list. I’m over 65, and very few books have ever made it to that list. I plan to read this book again because it is so good.