Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller

By Alexandra Fuller

With a similar disarmingly unguarded prose that received her serious popularity of Don’t Let’s visit the canines Tonight, Alexandra Fuller tells of her strange friendship with “K”—a white African and veteran of the brutal, racially divided Rhodesian battle. An engrossing and haunting story of affection, godliness, hate, warfare, and survival, Scribbling the Cat recounts the adventure she makes with okay into the lands that carry the scars in their battle, from Zambia via Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and into Mozambique. pushed by means of stories, they enterprise deeper into the countries’ distant bush, the place they come upon different veterans and survivors and confront the demons of K’s prior: a violent battle marked via racial strife, jungle battles, torture, and the murdering of blameless civilians.

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But as Nell’Affrica Italiana shows, the assumptions of biological determinism that came to form the bedrock of both Fascism and Nazism were present from the first days of the Italian presence in Africa. The thread runs strong and clear through half a century of occupation. If men of Martini’s generation, in contrast with their successors, felt no need to enshrine every aspect of their racial superiority 45 I DIDN’T DO IT FOR YOU in a specific set of laws, it was only because they took their supremacy utterly for granted.

38 THE LAST ITALIAN He had started out as one of the fiercest critics of Italy’s African adventure, arguing that a European nation which had itself only just thrown off the yoke of foreign rule was, in trying to subjugate a foreign people, guilty of the worst kind of hypocrisy. Why invest in Massawa’s infrastructure, when Italy’s poor south itself stood in crying need of development? After the Dogali massacre, Martini stuck his neck out by refusing to hail the slaughtered men as heroes and demanding the immediate recall of Italian troops, on the grounds that remaining in Eritrea was ‘neither the policy of a daring nation nor a wise people’.

When his officers met resistance, they resorted to enthusiastic use of the curbash, a whip made of hippopotamus hide that flayed backs raw. But the Italian public would have remained blithely unaware of the true state of affairs, had it not been for a scandal that exploded in the press in March 1891. Ironically enough, the controversy was triggered by the government of the day. It had grown uneasy at what it was hearing from Massawa, where a formerly trusted Moslem merchant and a tribal chieftain had been sentenced to death for treason.

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