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By Doris May Lessing

African Laughter' is a portrait of Doris Lessing's fatherland. In it she recounts the visits she made to Zimbabwe in 1982, 1988, 1989 and 1992, after being exiled from the previous Southern Rhodesia for twenty-five years for her competition to the white minority govt. The visits represent a trip to the guts of a rustic whose heritage, panorama, humans and spirit spring to mind through Lessing in a story of certain scenes. Swooping from the verandahs to the grass roots and again back, noting the types of adjustments that may be preferred basically by way of one that has lived there prior to, Lessing embraces each side of lifestyles in Zimbabwe from the misplaced animals of the bush to political corruption, from AIDS to a communal firm created by way of terrible rural blacks.

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Sample text

Yet in that time the culture of that large area–roughly the size of Spain–had been destroyed; the people had been kept subdued by all the power of modern weapons, policing, propaganda; finally they had rebelled against armies equipped with the most advanced weaponry, and they had won. Now they had to take power as equals in a modern world. Their chief difficulty was the same as in all new black nations. They did not have enough people trained in administration, though Southern Rhodesia had done better than most, particularly in agriculture, for Zimbabwe began with a good number of already trained black agricultural workers.

These mornings could be cold, and sometimes frost crusted the edges of leaves in cold hollows. In our part of the country, so much hotter, there was seldom frost. Later I had to wonder what that man was thinking, taken on this amazing trip in a car (and few of his fellows then had been in a car) to a part of the country too far away for him normally to think of visiting, days and days of walking, with the white family who were choosing–briefly–to live just as his people did, exclaiming all the time how wonderful it was, but preserving their customs as if they were still inside their house.

This was Salisbury, a white town, British in feel, flavour and habit. The progress of the Pioneer Column was watched by the Africans, and it is on record they laughed at the sight of the white men sweating in their thick clothes. A year later came Mother Patrick and her band of Dominican nuns, wearing thick and voluminous black and white habits. They at once began their work of teaching children and nursing the sick. Then, and very soon, came the women, all wrapped about and weighed down in their clothes.

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