By Maria Bárkányi Csávás
Key Themes: self-harm, mental health services, recovery, travel, culture
The ’Magic of Africa’ is divided into the following sub-sections:
The countries: Benin, Nigeria, The Sudan (Darfur) and Kenya
The voice of Africa
The Eden of Africa
The countries: Each country is introduced with general information and a description of different etnic groups. I recount some our adventures into the depths of the bush, black magic ceremonies, the everyday life of the villages, folk art, festivals and many other aspects.
Disease and The voice of Africa: These sections address the main problems with a view to drawing more attention to the problems of Africa.
The Eden of Africa: Nature’s untouched harmony can still be found here. It is impossible to forget the thrill of adventure and the beauty of the landscape. We had many encounters with wildlife. Africa’s unique flora and fauna are in urgent need of protection.
My aim is to prompt the reader to think again about the major problems of drought, famine, infected water, disease, poor hygiene and the lack of development, which still abound in Africa. Little has changed, even to this day.
The real focus of the book, however, is the people of Africa, whose lives are portrayed through this collection of beautiful photographs. These photos are touching, colourful, and truly transport the reader into The magic of Africa.
About the Author
We are Hungarian and until 1980, our life was the same as many others who live in big cities. My husband -the photographer- worked for a company as an agricultural adviser in Budapest. His employer often sent him to abroad, to Iran, Nigeria, and The Sudan. In The Sudan – Darfur province – he worked for one year. I was a computer organizer and programmer in Budapest where we lived.
From 1980 our normal life completely changed when he got an assignment with the FAO [UNDP], and was sent to Nigeria as an agricultural adviser. From that year, I never worked again.
We spent ten years [1980-1990] in Nigeria. My husband regularly travelled and visited the then 19 states of the country.
I was always interested in the life of the African people. Therefore most of the time joined my husband on his travels. We often went on tours to different African countries such as Benin, Niger, Egypt, Kenya as well as North Africa. Sometimes we spent more time in the four-wheel drive than in our home in Kaduna [Northern Nigeria].
By 1990 we have said goodbye to Africa and settled down in Portugal. Five years later, we returned to Budapest. However currently living in Andalusia – enjoying our retirement.
In 2000, my first book ‘Vihar a szavannán‘[Storm on the Savannah, a travel book on Africa], was published in Budapest by Kornétás under the pen name Mary Butler.
During our long years in Africa, my husband took many photographs. I didn’t want these photographs to lie packed away gathering dust. I also felt strongly that I should say more about the African people. I felt compelled to write down exactly what I saw there because the people of Africa need more help. That is why I wrote my second book ‘The magic of Africa’.
Through the interesting photographs, the text provides our impressions of those countries in which we traveled. I highlight the main problems in these countries, which are common to Africa generally.
Although we didn’t visit all the countries of Africa, those we did represent a good cross-section. My aim is to remind readers of the greatest problems, which have seen little change even today.
I know my book is not usual, but I think sometimes one must write down the truth, because criticism perhaps prompts people into seeking a better solution.
It is my dream to have this book published as a photo-album, which may be of interest to anyone who likes to see real life through many beautiful photographs and quickly glean more information about the daly life in these countries.
‘The magic of Africa’ could be a commercial success because at present, many countries are making huge efforts to help Africa [especially England]. The focus is still on Darfur. Therefore, the book could generate wide interest and could be internationally targeted.
If we are lucky enough for this book to be published, we can help Africa in our own small way as the royalties of the book are to be donated to a charity organization. The name of a charity organisation should therefore appear on the book cover. The introduction to the book should also urge readers to buy this book to help Africa.
In view of today’s busy lifestyle, many people may prefer to get their information through pictures.
I think the best way to get across to the public – apart from music- is always through pictures and that is precisely what is intended with this book.
Magic of Africa
Although you can leave Africa, you can never leave it behind and you can never forget it. I can still feel its dusty taste in my mouth as we roamed endlessly. Great journeys and conquering huge distances have always been part of our life.
Many times, we fought with the bogged down land rover on untrodden paths in the bush. We fought mosquitoes, heat and dust. It wasn’t easy. But our interest in Africa and our great love of the continent kept us going.