- Editorial Reviews Amazon.com
- From 1991 to 1994, Keith Richburg was based in Nairobi
as the Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post. He traveled throughout
Africa, from Rwanda to Zaire, witnessing and reporting on wars, famines,
mass murders, and the complexity and corruption of African politics. Unlike
many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his
time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African
American. This is a powerful, hard-hitting book, filled with anguished
soul-searching as Richburg makes his way toward that uncomfortable conclusion.
- Outrage As Black Journalist Says 'Thank God for Slavery'
- A black American author has sparked anger and controversy
among black nationalists "by repudiating his African roots and thanking
God his ancestor was enslaved."
- Keith Richburg has been shunned and insulted for daring
to reject the Afro-centric idealism which is an article of faith in black
- In 'Out Of America', published in February,1997, (paperback
edition now available; hardcover, 288 pages; 'Basic Books,' ISBN: 0465001874),
after he spent three years reporting from Africa for the Washington Post,
Mr Richburg hurls down a challenge to black American leaders to stop deceiving
themselves and the 35 million (black) descendants of slaves, that Africa
is Eden on earth.
- "I'm tired of lying,' he writes. 'And I'm tired
of all the ignorance and hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and
read about Africa, much of it from people who've never been there, let
alone spent three years walking around amid the corpses.
- "Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and
my kinship with my African 'brothers' and I'll throw it back in your face,
and then I'll rub your nose in the images of the rotting flesh.'
- Richburg spent three years covering the continent's senseless
violence, corruption, bloody and incessant cruelties--machete-wielding
Hutu militiamen, a cholera epidemic in Zaire, famine in Somalia, civil
war in Liberia, disease, dirt, dictatorships, killer children, AIDS, terror.
- "Had my ancestor not made it out of here,' Richburg
muses, 'I might have ended up in that crowd...maybe I would have been one
of those bodies, washing over the waterfall in Tanzania or maybe my son
would have been set ablaze by soldiers. Or I would be limping now from
the torture I received in some rancid police cell...'
- Afrocentrism 'has become fashionable for many blacks,
Richburg notes. 'It cannot work for me. I have been here, I have lived
there and seen Africa in all its horror.'
- Mr Richburg's every word is an assault on the group identity
politics which have taken hold among black intellectuals and leads, critics
say, to a Balkanisation of American society.
- Thinking about his slave forebear, transported in chains
to the Caribbean and thence to South Carolina, Mr Richburg writes: "Thank
God my ancestor got out, because, now, I am not one of them [Africans].
In short, thank God I am an American."
- Borders, a Washington D.C. book shop, was packed this
month for a lecture by Mr Richburg at which hecklers accused him of racial
betrayal. 'One man demanded to know if the author had a white girlfriend,'
said Mary Ann Brownlow, who organised the lecture.
- When Mr Richburg appeared on a talk show on Black Entertainment
Television, Randall Robinson, leader of the TransAfrica lobby group and
one of America's most prominent blacks, refused to join the discussion.
- Jackie Clark, producer of the show, said: 'We African-Americans
have this vision of Africa as the motherland which we see in this wonderful
light, but people who have lived there can burst this bubble. It takes
courage to say things you know are going to outrage people, but I think
Richburg wishes he were white.'
- Out Of America is a gruesomely detailed account of barbarism
and corruption across the continent, particularly in Somalia and Rwanda.
The author pulls no punches in condemning it, and no...myth is spared.
When sketching how his ancestor was enslaved, he says it was first 'probably
by a local chieftain.' The suggestion that African blacks were slave owners
is anathema in America...
- Mr Richburg, who is now working for the Washington Post
in Hong Kong, says he is not condoning the evil of slavery, but insists
that condemning it should not blind blacks to the fact that good has emerged
- Reviews of Richburg's 'Out of America':
- E.G. Long: "Africa is a painful reality. Over the
past 21 years, I have lived and worked in five African countries: Kenya,
Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire and Nigeria. ..There is nothing in Richburg's book
that I could contradict.
- I too, experienced the horror, and hopelessnesss of that
continent. I read 'Out of America' in one sitting... "
- Steve Wishnevsky: "This is the voice missing from
the current race 'dialogue.' Mr. Richburg is a courageous writer and clear
observer...His is an authentic voice and should be listened to closely.
America is the only land where the descendants of Africans have anything
approaching freedom and economic opportunity."
- H. Luther: "So much of what you hear about Africa
lately is from people who have never been there. People who want to romanticize
what is in fact chaos and disaster...Richburg has written what he has seen,
he has presented reality with great integrity. It is a must read. "
- Peace is patriotic! Michael Santomauro Editorial Director
253 West 72nd street #1711 New York, NY 10023 RePortersNoteBook.com