am Greene once pointed out that Africa is shaped like the human heart an appropriate image for a land that entices so many people. Writer Ann Jones' romance with this most mysterious of continents is recounted in her enthralling travelogue Looking for Lovedu, an account of her journey to Africa in search of the Lovedu people. As African tribes go, this one is an anomaly, a group ruled by "feminine" qualities such as tolerance, cooperation and compromise hence, Jones' attraction to them. She is especially anxious to have an audience with the Lovedu queen, a legendary rainmaker and magician.
Almost whimsically, Jones undertakes the journey in the company of Kevin Muggleton, an iron-willed photographer and journalist from England who leads her across the continent at a breakneck pace. The rugged Muggleton turns their trek into an endurance test, insisting they cross the Sahara without the aid of maps and picking a particularly difficult route across Zaire. The pair drives until their jeep falls to pieces. The duo's interaction with each other, and with the African landscape, makes for fascinating reading. But after a battle with malaria and an encounter with some dangerous Mobutu men among other obstacles Jones and Muggleton decide to part ways. Jones continues her quest in the company of two women, one of whom is Kenyan. Needless to say, this leg of the odyssey is more relaxed, and Jones is able to truly experience and absorb the continent for the first time.
Early on, Jones denies that she has any intention of "growing" through this experience, but she does grow exponentially. When she finally arrives at the southern part of the continent where the Lovedu reside, the reader savors her victory. After a wild ride, the grail is at last within her grasp.
An acclaimed adventure writer and skillful storyteller, Jones is the author of five previous books. Audiences may or may not fall head-over-heels for Africa after reading her vivid, engrossing new narrative, but it will be difficult for them not to love Looking for Lovedu.
Maude McDaniel writes from Maryland.