Diary of a Transkei trek

2010-01-13 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Donkey Crossings: A Wild and Desperate Journey Down the Transkei Coast

Kim McGowan

Umuzi

BEGINNING with three throat­clearing pages, Kim McGowan ­explains the background to his diary of a trek down the Transkei coast in 1988, a journey that he made on foot in the company of a friend, two donkeys and two dogs. His diary of the trip forms the basis of this book.

Intending to make their way from Kokstad to the coast, then down to Cape Town and on up to Khartoum, after six months the travellers made it to just short of East London. ­“Having chucked it all in, we then chucked it up,” McGowan says of the truncated trip.

I made it through the introduction and then through the wordy first page of the first chapter, titled “Half-cocked above Kokstad”, as our travellers begin, from Usherwood outside Kokstad, to make for the coast. Soon, they find themselves confronted by an impenetrable fence. I, the reader, am confronted by the next two sentences: “Two hours ago, when we stepped forth from under Usherwood’s trees, we reasoned that not only was it time we left but that by leaving as late as we did we would be leaving that much less to the ­unforeseen. Not that we were surprised to find this fence some twenty kilometres from Kokstad, flung down before us like a rampart around old ­Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey from our starting point.”

Perhaps other readers may find enough interest in such prose to make it to just short of East London. I, however, decided to chuck it all in. Or maybe it was that I chucked it up.

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