A young Canadian adventurer’s African diary, part 2

Hitch-hike to the Gulf of Guinea

Buying squatting room on the backs of native fish trucks, the tramp from Toronto followed the rivers from the Sahara’s edge to the sea. Then he began his malarial trek through the jungle to Accra

PETER STOLLERY May 6 1961
A young Canadian adventurer’s African diary, part 2

Hitch-hike to the Gulf of Guinea

Buying squatting room on the backs of native fish trucks, the tramp from Toronto followed the rivers from the Sahara’s edge to the sea. Then he began his malarial trek through the jungle to Accra

PETER STOLLERY May 6 1961

Hitch-hike to the Gulf of Guinea

A young Canadian adventurer’s African diary, part 2

Buying squatting room on the backs of native fish trucks, the tramp from Toronto followed the rivers from the Sahara’s edge to the sea. Then he began his malarial trek through the jungle to Accra

PETER STOLLERY

THERE CAN’T BE MANY PLACES as far away from anywhere as Gao in the French Sudan. It’s on the southern edge of the Sahara, about 1,200 miles by air south of the Mediterranean, 1,100 miles east of the Senegal port of Dakar and 800 miles northeast of Abidjan, the main French port on the Ivory Coast. There are no paved roads leading out of Gao, just corrugated dirt tracks winding through the sub-Saharan brush. It’s no place for a Canadian hitch-hiker.

When I arrived there from the desert, I found out several things that didn’t make matters easier. First of all, the money changed. In French West African territories, they use the African franc. You give two Algerian francs for one African franc but the prices stay the same. If you pay 50 francs for a package of cigarettes in Algeria, you’ll pay 50 African francs in French West Africa. You’re really paying twice as much. I cut down smoking drastically. Secondly, there is no such thing as hitching a free lift with a truck in French West Africa. Everybody pays. The only chance is to get a lift with Europeans.

There were a couple of things to do when I

arrived in Gao. The first was to find a place to sleep. This wasn’t difficult. I camped in the yard of the Customs shed. There were trucks sitting there, and at night I climbed on the back of one and went to sleep. Next I had to have my passport looked after. I had arrived without a visa. I’d been told to expect trouble, but the French official was very obliging. He told me that since the French have formed the community of selfgoverning African states, nobody is sure who’s supposed to give out visas. You need a visa for each. The commandant wired Bamako, the capital of the French Sudan, and gave me a three-month visa immediately. All I had to do was report to the gendarmerie at every stopover.

The next thing to do was find some way of getting south. I wasn’t sure where. For a couple of days I didn’t get serious about a lift. Gao was too fascinating. In the market Africans sit around selling all kinds of interesting things. You could buy anything from poorly made daggers to tomatoes. Almost everything was either home-made or home-grown. For the first time in my life I saw swords and knives that weren’t made in England or Germany. Meat lay uncovered from the heat and black with flies.

The women were dressed in the most colorful clothes I have ever seen, big splashy wax prints in every color of the rainbow. Most of them are Moslems but they don't wear veils. After eight months in Arab countries, it was wonderful to see women’s faces again.

At the market, stately Peuhl women glided here and there with their hair done up so that it looked like a mess of worms. Big gold bangles hung from their ears. There were Tuaregs with their camels, burnoosed Arab traders, and the odd Senegalese soldier. It was rare to see a European. A few hundred yards away, dugout canoes were waiting at the side of the Niger.

Originally my plan had been to cut southeast toward Nigeria, since the main track from Gao heads that way. But 1 soon changed my mind. While 1 was having a cold beer at a local hotel. 1 met two Europeans. One of them, a hotelkeeper from a place called Bougouni. 700 miles to the southwest, invited me to his place if 1 passed by. The other was an oilman who said he was going by Land-Rover the next day to Mopti, some 300 miles southwest on the Niger.

Early in the morning we were off. The first step was to cross the Niger. The track we were taking was so little used that we had trouble finding the ferry a mile or two downstream. Eventually we managed to get the Land-Rover on without squeezing out two Tuaregs and their camels. After a few false starts, we made the opposite shore.

DUCKS AND GEESE COVERED THE SWAMP

When we left the ferry, we couldn't find the track. It turned out to be nothing more than two faint depressions in the sand. In some places it disappeared and we had to follow our noses. I found the country fascinating. It is one of the least civilized parts of Africa. Wildlife

is abundant. Birds of every description flitted here and there. Gazelles dashed in front of the Land-Rover. At a place called Gossi. we passed a large swamp. I've never seen so many ducks and geese. I hadn't expected all this game so close to the desert. At one place I saw two ostriches running off among the thorn trees with a stately air. I was really in Africa now.

Although there were supposed to be human habitations at two places along the route, we didn't see anyone except a few herdsmen. There were generally two or three of them with hundreds of sheep or bony-looking cattle with enormous horns. The men were Peuhls. They'll tackle a lion alone if the beast attacks their herds.

The first place of any size we passed was Hombori. which is set in very rocky country. One of its satellite villages is cut right out of a mountainside, about fifty feet above the road. As we drove by. the whole population leaned out over the ledge and waved. Their blue, brown and white robes made them look like something out of the Tarzan stories. In Hombori proper, we found we were the first people to drive across from Gao in four months and the first white men to visit Hombori for perhaps a year.

We pressed on to the next main village. Douentza. It was late when we reached Douentza and we went straight to bed at the government camp. These camps are kept up all over French West Africa for passing travelers.

The next morning it rained. We didn't think the track would be passable and waited around Douentza until noon. I looked over the village. Just as I was coming out the end of one street. 1 noticed a pair of ostriches. They are domesticated. and every once in a while one is killed for the meat, which is said to taste like beef.

Finally we left. The track was muddy but passable and it wasn't long before we reached the Niger again at Konna. We then did the fifty miles upriver to Mopti, which calls itself the crocodile-hunting capital of the world. Mopti is built on an island in the Niger. In the dry season you can walk to it through a swamp but during the rains the river surrounds it like a moat. The road from the mainland is built on a dike seven miles long. It's paved, to stop the rains from washing it away.

THE BOAT WAS BANGED ABOUT BY HIPPOS

People stay away from Mopti because of the stench. Although crocodiles are important, fishing is the big industry. Fish are caught, dried and shipped all over West Africa. The smell is almost overpowering when you arrive but after a while you get used to it. Someone in Gao had given me an introduction to a Dane who was living in Mopti. He had attempted to go down the Niger by sailboat but had been banged about by hippos. Shortly after I left, he went back to Denmark.

The Dane's room, which he kindly invited me to share, was beside the fish market. The other Europeans couldn’t understand how he put up with the terrible stench but after a day even 1 became used to it. There were no beds in the bare room and we slept on the wooden floor.

Our room, a place of absolute squalor, was on the first floor up of a rickety old house. You came down a muddy alley and almost tripped over a naked old African woman who was always roasting corn over a small fire in front of the door. The stairs were on a magnificent angle: it was quite a trick to make it upstairs without falling down. You said "Bonjour Madame" to the fat

CONTINUED ON' PAGE 35

continued from page 21

Hitch-hike to the Gulf of Guinea continued from page 21

My diet at Mopti was bread and cheese; the bread always had flies in it

Lebanese who was cooking horrid grease balls. They gave off an odor that just about equalled the fish stench. I stayed almost two weeks.

Mopti has a vast market, the largest 1 had seen in Africa. One of the favorite outfits of the brilliantly clothed women was a purple sarong that had SIERRA LEONE in big letters across it and foothigh pictures of the Queen and Prince Philip. Another was a pattern made of Union Jacks. One common design for men’s shirts was MALI in big letters and the Mali flag splashed across the front and back of the shirt. The French Sudan, which is now the Republic of Mali, and the Republic of Senegal make up the Federation of Mali in the French Community. Or they did make it up; a few' months ago they decided to split.

My diet at Mopti was bread and cheese. The bread always had flies in it. Until 1 found there was only one bakery. I kept changing stores trying to get bread without flies. Every time you broke it open, you had to pick out the little black flies that were all through it. I found it disconcerting. You wouldn’t mind eating the Hies if you couldn't see them.

One evening the Dane and 1 were invited to dinner by one of his friends, a Frenchman who had lived in the French Sudan for about fifteen years. Like most other single Frenchmen in those parts, he kept an African mistress. She was about the fourth of a series, and he had several children going to school in France. She was a friendly girl and he treated her well. The thing that astonished me w'as that w'hile we were eating, a European friend of his came over with his European wife. The w'hite woman chatted with our hostess and asked her how the children w'ere. I wandered how' an Anglo-Saxon w'ife would feel about such a situation. I found the French attitude refreshing.

Over at the fish market, I arranged for a ride to Bamako, some four hundred miles to the south, with a truck carrying dried fish. There seemed to be no other way of getting to Bamako. After a hectic discussion, the truck driver agreed on two dollars. Inside the cab was more expensive, so I rode on top w'ith the fish.

The fish was supposed to be in wicker baskets. In practice dried fish kept slipping into my lap. A very fat woman right beside me was taking up all the room. A small African, wearing a Panama hat. and myself were squeezed into the fish. Except that the fish seemed to be infested with bugs, we w'ere all very comfortable.

I don’t know how many times we stopped for prayers. Everyone w'as Moslem. The truck would stop and everybody would pile off. They unfolded little straw mats, washed their hands in dirt and then knell on the mats, bow'ing. They seemed much more concerned about religious exercise than any Arab I've met.

That night we just stretched out on the ground near the truck. Lor breakfast the next morning, we made a stop at Ségou. Natives crowded around the truck and sold little round balls of fried dough. I paid ten cents for a dozen. They tasted almost like doughnuts. Everyone seemed amused by my eating the things. Europeans seldom eat anything sold in the street. I talked to a European who had been many years in Africa and never tasted them. Lie said he’d always wondered if they were any good.

By the time we arrived in Bamako. I was filthy and smelt high. The roads gave off a reddish cloud as we drove along, and we poor souls on top were covered from head to foot. While we were waiting for the ferry just before Bamako,

several Europeans who were standing around looked at me queerly.

Bamako is on the far side of the river from the road to Mopti. There is a ferry across, but when 1 was there the French were putting the finishing touches to a

bridge. I never got into Bamako. Since I was going to Bougouni. there wasn't much point going across—it's difficult to sleep on the ground in a large town.

After eating a bowl of rice in a dirty African restaurant near the ferry, 1 got a lift to Bougouni. The hundred-mile stretch from Bamako to Bougouni is one of the few paved roads in the region.

There had definitely been a change of climate since Mopti. As evening came on. it became quite cool and damp. It was dark when I reached my friend's hotel in Bougouni. Cold wine and Euro-

pean food were a welcome treat after several weeks of all kinds of things foreign to my stomach.

During the week or so I stayed in Bougouni, I went with my friend several times to do the shopping. I thought the market poor. Here and there an old hag sat with a pile of perhaps six tomatoes. Sometimes she would have a little bit of fiery pepper, or some sad-looking greens. Nobody had much of anything.

Most of the people were Bambara, an important tribe in this part of Africa. Their language is a sort of lingua franca for much of the French Sudan. The French agricultural expert, a M. Peignon, told me he had a terrible time with the Bambara. He would explain to them how to grow a money crop. He checked their fields. Then, when the harvest came, they would cut only enough to last them till the next harvest. Nine tenths of the crop would rot in the fields. They didn’t feel that the work was worth it.

Meat was cheap and good. I headed for the meat market first thing in the morning with M. .Genoux, my host. There was no way to keep the meat cool, so we had to get it just after the animals had been butchered. There were fewer flies than in some other meat markets I’ve seen; you could see the meat. The best filet was only sixty cents a pound. Fat live ducks were only a dollar each. Genoux said they were better than anything that could be found in France.

One morning I went to the post office, to send home all my films from the Sahara for developing. After a long discussion, the African postmaster decided that 1,650 francs ($6.60) would be just right. I was sure it wasn’t enough, but he insisted. There was no use arguing, even though I’m sure it was the first thing he’d ever had in his post office for Canada. More than a month later, when I arrived at Yaoundé in the French Cameroons, there was a letter waiting for me from the postmaster in Bougouni. He was sorry but the post office at Bamako had refused to send the package because of insufficient postage. Could I please send the necessary amount?

This sort of thing happens often with Africans and it’s very frustrating. You can’t tell them anything. Many times I’ve sent a postcard to Canada from the French territories and always with an argument. The Africans insist on giving the postage for a card going to France. It’s not stupidity. They never like to admit they don’t know something. A combination of an inferiority complex and the almost unbelievable superstition they have to overcome makes it difficult.

One morning the agricultural expert from the next post came to see Peignon. He said he’d be glad to take me back with him, and that afternoon we left. In no time at all we did the 125 miles to Sikasso, the last town in the French Sudan. The agricultural expert’s son was going to Bobo-Dioulasso the next morning, and he agreed to take me along.

At five o’clock in the morning, we piled into his two-horsepower Citroën. Bobo was a little over a hundred miles away. At first the fog was so heavy that I could hardly see the sides of the road. Fortunately it hadn’t rained, and our little car put-putted along with no trouble. The fog cleared in time for me to see the sign when we entered the Republic of Upper Volta. The French Sudan was finished.

I had entered it in the Sahara and I left it among the greenery of tropical vegetation.

The Upper Volta is possibly the poorest of all French African territories or republics, whichever you choose to call them. Its neighbor to the southwest, the Ivory Coast, is the richest. Most Upper

Volta trade,passes through the port of Abidjan on the Ivory Coast. The two republics have formed an economic union, since in a way they depend on each other.

Before arriving at Bobo, we crossed the Black Volta, the river from which the republic takes its name. Farther downstream it forms part of the border between Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Bobo-Dioulasso is a large base for French military forces. There wasn’t the native color of Gao or Mopti, just some quite modern stores along tree-lined streets. I had coffee in a French café and left immediately. It was fine, but it wasn’t Africa.

I was in a dilemma. I didn’t know anyone, or how to get south. I walked past the market and looked at the railway station. The railway comes down from Ouagadougou and goes to Abidjan on the coast, but it was too expensive and uninteresting for me. Then I started asking any driver whose car had an Ivory Coast plate if he were going south. Some people looked at me disdainfully; some were pleasant. Nobody was going south. There was only one thing to do—try hitch-hiking the usual way. A Frenchman gave me a lift to a crossroads a couple of miles out

PARADE

How did he get in?

The Van Gogh exhibition that recently toured Canada drew record crowds to Toronto’s Art Gallery, but it didn’t impress everybody. When a Toronto woman apologized to her hairdresser for being a little late, because the crowds made it difficult to see the Van Gogh paintings as quickly as she’d thought, the hairdresser sniffed: “Those DPs make me sick. Besides, what makes him think he can paint?”

of town. He wished me all kinds of luck and said: “Only Anglo-Saxons do crazy things like this.”

It was a lonely wait. My only companions were two blind old Africans sitting on the ground beside me. It started to rain. Finally a truck came along and stopped when I hailed it. I explained to the African in charge that I had no money. He said 1,000 francs to ride up on the back. Finally he came down to 500 francs — two dollars — as far as Bouaké, about three hundred miles south. I threw up my stuff and climbed on. Another load of dried fish!

We were quite a collection. There were several men and women, including a mother suckling a child. They were astonished to see a European riding with them.

It soon became dark and we stopped at a village for supper. The truck boss asked me why I didn’t eat. Again I explained: money. Actually I could have managed it. But if I’d told him, he would have charged me more money. Immediately I was handed a piping-hot bowl of rice with pepper sauce. The sauce was like fire. When I protested, they insisted. There was no way out. When I finished the rice I was given foul-smelling cassava and dried fish. It tasted better than it smelled. Next there was a glass of very sweet coffee. Then I ran out of cigarettes and threw the empty package away. Right away the boss gave me two packages of Gauloises. The strange thing was that he was content with some poorly made local cigarettes, but I suppose he didn’t think it right that a European should smoke them.

We rumbled along for the rest of the night. Our little group huddled together among the fish and went to sleep. When I awoke, we were stopped on a street in

what turned out to be Bouaké. The place was just beginning to stir and the odd African was coming out of his straw hut. Before this the huts had mostly been like beehives. Now they were rectangular, with straw roofs. I could even see banana trees. The Gulf of Guinea couldn’t be far away.

The trucker decided to wait around Bouaké for another load and then continue to Abidjan. He said he’d take me. So I went looking for a place to wash. 1 was red from head to foot with the dust from the road. Not far along one of the streets was a fairly large mud-walled compound. There were some women inside, and 1 asked them if they had any water. 1 was directed to a door inside the compound. A man who seemed to be in charge ordered a woman to provide me with a bucket of water and I was ushered into the washroom. It was just a small enclosure beside the wall, with no roof, and a lump of mud in the centre to sit on.

After I had washed and thanked the man, he invited me inside for coffee. 1 found that he was the elder of the compound. He was as fine and cultured a man as I’d met in a long lime. When I told him how I’d traveled all the way from Canada, he called in one of his young grandsons to listen. He wanted him to do the same thing when he grew up.

We left Bouaké that afternoon, and stopped at Toumodi for supper. You didn’t have to go into a restaurant. As soon as the truck stopped, crowds of women surrounded it. On their heads they had all the rice, fish, sauce and coffee. It was quite remarkable how they managed everything. The accumulated pile of bowls was a good two feet high.

As I was standing beside the truck talking to the boss, there was a scream. We jerked our heads around. There, a hundred feet away, was a little girl looking at me and pointing, wailing her head off. 1 didn’t realize until then how strange I must have looked with my hair, beard and clothes red with that infernal dust. All the Africans thought it a great joke. Scores of people roared with laughter.

The boss of our truck was a strangelooking individual. He didn’t do any physical work but merely counted the money, fixed up cargoes and visited friends every time we stopped. He didn’t even drive but had two drivers with him. Sometimes he rode on the back, sometimes in the cab. He reminded me of the Green Hornet. His long burnoose was green and he prayed on a green straw mat. On his head was a battered old fedora. His philosophy was simple. The reason he gave for buying my food was that perhaps some day I’d be the French commandant in one of the districts in which he operated. Perhaps I’d return the favor and be a good man to have for a friend. The fact that I was a Canadian didn't bother him at all. He even asked me if I could speak English and wondered how I’d learned it.

During the night. I was awakened by a sea breeze. I’d reached the coast. It didn’t seem nearly as important as when 1 was in the centre of the Sahara, but there it was. Although 1 couldn’t see it for the fog. the sea was right beside us. I could even hear the surf. Before long we were driving on paved streets. I was in Abidjan. I went back to sleep.

That morning 1 really needed a wash. It’s all right to be dirty in the bush but 1 couldn’t walk around a place with five thousand Europeans and look as bad as I did. My shirt was finished and I had to throw it out. The boss showed me a bathhouse for Africans and I went to it. Then 1 had to find a place to stay.

Even the cheapest hotel was too much for my purse. You can’t very well sleep

in the street of a big city. You have to find a place to leave your things or they’ll be stolen. I spied a French café and went in. I hadn’t had a decent coffee for quite a while. As I was drinking my coffee, the Frenchwoman behind the bar asked me jokingly if I was hitch-hiking. She was astonished when I said I was. Did I have anywhere to stay? She said she’d fix that and after several phone calls took me over to the old soldiers’ home. She explained the situation to the man in charge and I had a bed in no time.

Abidjan is the pride of French West Africa. There are really two towns, one on each side of a lagoon. I was staying on the side called Treichville. the African and poorer European quarter. On the other side of the beautiful bridge is the main European centre of Abidjan, with its lovely wide streets and nice cafés. Unfortunately everything is terribly expensive. A meal in an Abidjan restaurant cost at least four dollars. Even in Treichville, two dollars was normal for dinner. A bowl of rice in my favorite African dive was only twenty cents.

After my rice. I used to go over to see the lady who had found me the place to

PARADE

Separate but equal

Segregation rearing its ugly head on the parking lot of the Hamilton, Ont..

Health Centre, where a stern sign reads: "Foreign cars park on this side only.”

stay. 1 could still afford a cup of coffee. Al the café I met an Italian couple from Liberia who were motoring to Ghana by a northern road. I wanted to go to Ghana along the coast, where there was no through road. I decided not to go with them. It was a lucky decision. I met them later in hospital in Accra. They had been nearly killed in a car accident.

After I’d been a few (.lays at the old soldiers' home, the director of it found me a Frenchman who was driving to Aboisso, the last town in the bush on the way to Ghana. The man said he’d be happy to have me with him. That night the lady at the restaurant gave me a free meal and bade me good luck. When I got back to my room 1 found that she had stuffed a few packs of cigarettes in my bag.

At five in the morning, the Frenchman and 1 started along the coastal road. In a little while we turned off and we were in the jungle. Groups of monkeys swung on the trailing vines. At seven, we had reach ed Aboisso and the Frenchman went into the hotel for coffee.

The hotelkeeper, hearing that I was a Canadian, offered to drive me farther into the bush. There were no roads but he steered his car along the narrow track that led here and there in the great forest. This is a sacred forest, where the natives carry out human sacrifice. They try to get Africans from other tribes for their purpose. 1 won't deny I was happy to get through it. By ten in the morning we had reached a village called Mafere. It was the end of everything. For the next twenty miles or so I’d have to walk.

I set off. Presently I came to a river where I found a clumsy dugout canoe. Together with an Arab I met on the bank, I paddled across. Neither of us was used

to paddling such a craft, and the river was full of crocodiles. But we reached the other side and started walking.

The Arab kept me company for a while, but with my pack I couldn’t keep up with him. It was discouraging to sec him getting farther and farther ahead. I walked alone till late afternoon and came to some plantations. Africans were coming toward me carrying banana stalks on their heads while others were going unburdened, my way, to get another load. For the last few miles they carried my pack for me. As soon as one of them would get to the end of his stage, he would hand the pack to a man going farther on. When we finally reached Frambo, the French post on the frontier. 1 tried to give the last man some money but he wouldn’t take it.

Two miles away, across a lagoon. I could see the coast of Ghana. I thought how wonderful it would be to hear English spoken again after almost a year.

The immigration man was an African and unfit for the task. This frontier is seldom visited by a European, and 1 suspect the man wanted to use his official powers on a white man. For nearly half an hour he inspected my pack, which had nothing in it but my Arab robe and a few worn clothes. He even demanded that 1 show him my money. When he saw that I had a few dollar bills, he cried: “Oh my, oh no. you can’t have those, mon dieu!"

I shouted at him that it was none of his business if I had a few dollars, that I wasn't French anyway. Then I yelled at him the words from my passport: THE

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EXTERNAE AFFAIRS OF CANADA REQUESTS IN THE NAME OF HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ALL THOSE WHOM IT MAY CONCERN TO ALLOW THE BEARER TO PASS FREELY WITHOUT LET OR

HINDRANCE AND TO AFFORD THE BEARER SUCH ASSISTANCE AND PROTECTION AS MAY BE NECESSARY.

When I reached the bit about “Her Majesty the Queen" he threw my passport back at me. He was too scared to touch it again and I had to hold it while he stamped it. He even packed my bag. 1 jumped into a motorboat that had been waiting for me and away I went.

The boat docked on the Ghana side at a place called Joe’s Wharf. There was no efficient British-trained immigration man waiting, only an ancient truck. It took me to a village two miles away named Half Assini. A native directed me. in pidgin English, to a mission. The Dutch father put me up for the night. I was on Commonwealth soil at last.

They left me two coconuts

On my right was the sea, on the left the jungle. The next settlement was 65 miles away. The priest directed me to the only other European. a Greek. Kwarne Nkrumah. the national leader of Ghana, was born near Half Assini, and the Greek had been commissioned to build him a summer house. By a stroke of luck, two African friends of the Greek who were visiting the village for the weekend were going to Cape Coast, 160 miles along the road to Accra.

That afternoon we all ate roast shark meat on the beach. Then 1 climbed into the car and we drove off along a road that led mostly through jungle. By evening we reached Cape Coast. The driver was an intelligent, cultured man who had studied law for seven years in England. These very nice people, when they found 1 was going to sleep in the police station, insisted on getting me a room in a small hotel and even left me two coconuts.

Early in the morning 1 had a cup of tea and started walking. A Filipino road engineer picked me up and took me to Saltpond. There 1 tried to wave down another lift. A small boy came to me and told me that a man across the street wanted to see me. 1 followed the boy to a big Victorian house that had gone to seed. Upstairs, an old African gentleman met me. He wanted to find out what I was doing waving at passing cars.

When 1 explained he took me downstairs to see a young African who had been a civil servant. He looked at me with open mouth and wide eyes as 1 told my story. He thought I was remarkable, t thought it was time to go. I had to get to Accra before dark. I was getting dizzy and I’d nearly reached the end of my strength. I started to excuse myself but the former civil servant leaped to his feet and cried: “Oh no. I have a bus. I go to Accra daily. You must come with me. It will cost you nothing. Let me do this. 1 will be honored.”

The trip was mostly on a paved road. It was more like driving through Europe than through the so-called White Man’s Grave.. We reached Accra about six in the evening. I was starting to shake. My wits were wandering. All I wanted was a place to lie down.

Accra seemed the shabbiest city I’d seen. Around the base of the few taller office buildings were the ugly shops of Lebanese traders, Indians and Africans. The streets had open sewers. The cheapest hotel I could find was fifteen dollars a night. None of the Africans I asked would tell me where to find an African hotel. They said that Europeans shouldn’t stay there. Finally I found a police station with a smart African policeman. He directed me to a resthouse but I was sick and dizzy and I couldn’t find it. I stop-

ped a car and asked the European driver and his wife for directions. They drove me to a house and explained my predicament to some other people. One of them took me in his car to a club. I collapsed on the bed as soon as I w'as alone.

In the morning the man who had taken me to the club drove me over to the Canadian High Commissioner. The friendly young man 1 met there was the first Canadian I had seen in a year.

I shall never forget the welcome I got from that little band of Canadians stationed in Accra. I was their boy, a wanderer from home who had burst upon the scene. They called a doctor and soon I was in hospital. My illness was diagnosed as an attack of malaria and undulant fever.

The Accra newspaper took my picture. The Reuters representative said he believed I was the only person who had made such a trip in summer, and cabled the story to England, Canada and across Africa. My diary showed that 1 had come more than 1.500 miles through one part of the world after another that few white men have seen. Everyone assumed that I’d had enough and would now be going home, but I think the Canadian High Commissioner was pleased when I said I’d continue my journey and reach the Indian Ocean.

No matter what lay ahead, it couldn’t be rougher than what I’d been through. In ten days I was on my way again, in my heart the satisfaction of the blessed.

I had beaten West Africa before it could beat me. Anything else would be a cinch, if

In tlu> next chapter of his African diary. Peter Stollery tells of his adventures in crossing the continent from Ghana to Kenya.