For more than 40 years, Ryszard Kapuscinski has been unravelling the complexities of Africa for Western readers. And his simple tip for surviving war and disaster? Don’t eat anything cut with a knife.
As a result of this zeal, Kapuscinski has suffered over the years, as he says, ‘all types of tropical disease except Aids’. In the current book, he recounts the story of contracting cerebral malaria in the bush in Uganda, later complicated by TB. (When he awoke after one bout of hallucinatory sweating, the first face he saw staring at him was that of Idi Amin, on a hospital visit.) ‘My tropical experience tells me only one thing,’ he says. ‘Do not eat anything that has been cut with a knife. The edge of a knife carries all the bacteria. Bananas OK; oranges OK.’ Other than that, he trusts to luck.