REVIEW ☆ Chasing the Devil

CHARACTERS Chasing the Devil

REVIEW ☆ Chasing the Devil ë For many years Sierra Leone and Liberia have been too dangerous to travel through bedevilled by a uniuely brutal form of violence from which sprang many of Africa's cruellest contemporary icons This travel book touches on one of the most fraught parts of the globe at a different moment in its historyFor many years Sierra Leone and Liberia have been too dangerous to travel through bedevilled by a un. To get my one gripe out of the way first It might be a fairly stupidly obvious thing to say but the titles given to books can be really important; they might be the initial hook to draw us to pick the thing up in the first place the crutch to keep us going and indeed they sometimes colour our understanding or interpretation of the book's content With this book I found the title aggravating I began to read it because I had been genuinely moved and amazed by the previous book I had read of Butcher's 'Blood River' and therefore i decided to pick this up even though the title seemed a tad histrionic and sensationalist Butcher admirably elucidates what he means by the 'Devil' but it grated because the title itself did not accurately describe what we were reading The 'devil' is shorthand for the admittedly horrendous secret societies of the African hinterland the main one he 'encountered' being the Poro However Butcher is not really investigating them in any sense in which 'chasing' would be an accurate verb Instead if anything he stumbles across them and then encounters their total secrecy the breaking of which is punishable by amputation isolation and tragically on many occasions death I know this will seem a ridiculously picky moan but there you areHaving said that i feel better Butcher does writes a fascinating and very personal travelogue folowing in the footsteps of Graham Greene and his cousin Barbara who walked the self same hike across Liberia in 1935 What Butcher and his three companions doThe three companions being David a Brit and two local men Johnson and Mr Omaru Though local appears to have a very small geographically specific meaning in Liberia is seek to emulate as far as is possible the Greenes' trail Amazingly they often encounter things dramatically unchanged or perhaps depressingly much worse after the years of coup and counter coup of violence and repression of depressingly familiar embezzlement corruption and short sighted hypocrisyThe arrogant leadership of the descendants of freed slaves who ruled and astoundingly enslaved the native bush dwellers up until into the 30's when Greene was surreptiously investigatng this was finally swept aside by an horrendous bloodletting in 1980 Doe the new Dictator was himself brutally murdered 10 years later after himself wading through the much mourned 'rivers of blood' and then Charles Taylor swept to power and it was he who finally destroyed totally the infrastructure and spirit of the Country After the brutal civil war his ousting might have heralded a positive future but corruption and the power of secret tribal aliances and societies devestated even this small hopeCertainly Butcher enables his reader to see the power of these groups and the uphill struggle the wider community has to weaken or at least soften the power exercised by the shadowy leaders and his analysis of why these societies hamstring development was fascinating It is a community focused phenomenon born from the necessity of surviving in the tough West African bush and by its nature it stresses the value of the group over the individual of developing at the pace of the lowest common denominator not the advanced outlier And it is this feature of Poro and any other secret society found elsewhere in Africa that condemns its followers to flatlining stagnationObviously this uotation taken out of its context probably sounds horrendous as surely humanity at its best should develop by bearing in mind those at the lowest and most vulnerable points in society but the Poro do this at the expense of freedom and individuality and independence of thought They impose it not through an overall recognition of the needs of the weakest but often by an intransigent maintaining at all costs of the power structure which survives through fear intimidation and rank cruelty It is a depressingly familiar story which weighs the reader down because the seeming hopelessness of the situation serves only to show how far Liberia is from a fighting chance of improvement whilst corruption and nepotism and violence still holds sway At one point Johnson a seemingly lovely bloke whose personality Butcher enables to shine through the narrative loses his normal 'joie de vivre' as he passes through one isolated village on the hike In a group of men who are idly sitting at peace and uiet in the heat of the day Johnson has spotted one of the chief architects of Taylor's brutal violence and cruelty This man remains at large unpunished and uite clearly unfazed He knows he will never be called to account and so powerlessly does JohnsonTim Butcher is an excellent writer he has a lovely turn of phrase and is a dab hand at the striking image In an abandoned rubber plantation There were giantstrees as thick as my torso with boles as misshapen as recently fed pythons Having just watched one horrible scene invoving a python in 'Snakes on a plane' this brought me a lurch of realizationHe writes with humour when appropriate and very movingly at others His references to his own experiences in war torn Liberia and also his third party accounts of friends' and colleagues' are genuinely poignant and striking The sacrifices and deprivations undergone by the journalists so as to report from these places of horror and blood are often impressive and noble but the thing i most admired about Butcher's accounts was that he never sought to make their sacrifices out to be worse then the people of whom and for whom they were reporting The journalists though brave could opt to not go His account makes very clear his recognition that tragically the people on the ground those most in need have not the luxury of any kind of choice ps Just a uick word for the lovely pencil drawings at the head of each chapter They are by Sally Stephens and they are enchanting

Tim Butcher ↠ 8 REVIEW

Iuely brutal form of violence from which sprang many of Africa's cruellest contemporary icons This t. The premise of Tim Butcher's second book Chasing the Devil is following the route of Graham Greene and cousin Barbara Greene as described in the classic Journey Without MapsGreene's journey took place in 1935 Tim Butcher's in 2009 The setting is West Africa Sierra Leone Guinea and Liberia It was not Butchers first time in Sierra Leone or Liberia having spent time in both as a war correspondent journalist and the book is largely built on contrasts or lack of contrasts between the Greene's experience Butchers's previous experience and the current journey The journey undertaken with another young Englishman David Poraj Wilczynski who happily sits in the background for the most part and accompanied by two locals Johnson Boie guide and facilitator and Mr Omaru motorcycle transporter of the baggage These two played a huge part of the success of the travelThe books is rich is history outlining the complex and often confusing history of each country particularly Sierra Leone and Liberia In their most brief Sierra Leone was formed by the British as a place to repatriate the freed slaves of Britain Britain ruled as a colonial outpost until it achieved independence in 1960 Self rule was relatively successful until the 1990s where an ugly civil war in Liberia spilled over the border and overtook Sierra LeoneLiberia was formed under similar circumstances but by America Rather than an assisted transition like Sierra Leone in Liberia America simply transported the freed slaves off and periodically provided money to assist their establishment The government formed was primarily by the Americo Liberians who look whatever advantages over the other ethnic groups and at their worst enslaving them In 1980 a coup followed by executions of those ousted was followed by an election deemed fraudulent internationally By 1990 civil war was spilling into neighbouring Sierra Leone Chasing the Devil explains this history in a fluent way explaining some of Butchers experiences while reporting in the civil war and weaving it with the explanations given by the Greene's some seventy years earlier Despite there being roads available on the routes the Greene's had taken by foot Butcher and his companions take the forest trails by foot while Mr Omaru transports their packsThe title of the book comes from the native poro bush society which in its secretive way controls the traditions and culture of the villages The devils represent not evil as for a Christian expectation of the devil but as a being of power of both benevolence and cruelty The fantastically painted masks are the centrepiece of the devil costume and tradition dictates that the devil stays anonymous Sacrifices and other rituals still play their partThroughout the book we are also provided with background on Graham Greene and early on a in depth reasoning why he undertook his original journey Greene is a fascinating character and an author I have read a lot I read Journey Without Maps around 4 years ago which was just before I started reviewing which is a shame I should also have followed up with this book a little closer to that reading as it would have assisted in the linksOverall a well woven tale providing all that could be asked of Sierra Leone and Liberia by way of history and experience4 stars

SUMMARY ✓ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ↠ Tim Butcher

Chasing the DevilRavel book touches on one of the most fraught parts of the globe at a different moment in its histor. Having read Butcher´s first book ”Blood River” I set to reading his further adventures in Africa with great interestRight from the beginning of the book I was happy to note that his writing had evolved to a emotional style compared to his first book hence making the reading experience richer for me Butcher´s writing seems relaxed on this book i guess not being his first book he has nothing to prove to anyone any and as such is free to convey through his emotions too On the first chapter he sets the scene for his upcoming trip to Sierra Leone and Liberia and leaves the delighted reader thirsty and impatient to read the upcoming adventures this time following the footsteps of Graham Greene and his cousin Barbara in contrast to those of Stanley in the Democratic Republic of Congo in his earlier workWhile informatively shedding light to the dark history of aforementioned Western African countries Butcher is constantly comparing the experience of Greene an author that I adore from the 1935 to that experienced by him some seventy years later As such besides learning about the history of these countries the reader gets to experience two travel stories simultaneously; that of Graham Greene and Butcher´s own This constant comparison fruit of extensive research by the author makes interesting reading and gives the book and Butcher´s adventure a clear lifeline that it follows Butcher refers to Greene´s books and observations in his novel and myself having recently read GGreene´s “Heart of the matter” a fiction novel also taking place in Sierra Leone it was interesting to see some of the observations I also realize that I could have read Greene´s non fiction work”Journey without maps” before reading Butcher´s work in order to get a complete reading experienceAs Butcher´s first novel “Blood River” “Chasing the Devil” was a shocking read a great combination of adventure and history and a truly educational experience for me Butcher is a courageous reporter who managed to write an informative and well researched thrilling travel book on these two Western African countries and I look forward to reading his future travel adventure work