Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

My Journey through African Heritage

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

My Journey through African Heritage

Article excerpt

My journey through African Heritage; by Alan Donovan. Kenya, Kenway Publications, East African Educational Publishers Ltd. 2004. 400 pp. ISBN: 9966-25-3394.

Sweeping scenes, sharp photography and limited text are often associated with coffee table books. My Journey through African Heritage surprises, confounding the expectation. The 400 pages of this journey seem like a merger of two books - the first is the intensely personal journey of the author and the second is an insight into African fabrics, arts and jewellery. The two stories are woven in print side by side, but the sense of flow between the two elements is illusive.

On the one hand, the story of the author's experiences in Africa ranging from the Biafran conflict in 1967 to Kenya in 2003 is sometimes lost in the rush of colourful photographs. As a United States citizen with a beautiful house in Kenya, Donovan used his connections in the development world to market the African Heritage brand in the USA and then worldwide. In twenty chapters, he marks the progress of his interactions in Africa (mainly Kenya and Nigeria). But it is obvious that his interests in Africa are extended to Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, the Congo and beyond. With these travels, he has developed the successful African Heritage brand, comprising African jewellery, a pan African art gallery, festivals of African costumes, music, dance, textiles, fashion and cuisine and an architectural masterpiece overlooking the Athi Plain in Kenya.

On the other hand, the pictorial representation of the African fabrics, fashion, art and jewellery bumps into the text at odd moments. Distracting yet again is the quality of the photographs. …

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