Normally, when one reads a book about bike touring, it is an adventure of discovery about new places, people, and cultures. To a certain extent, Back to Angola, A Journey From War to Peace, was a voyage of discovery too, but with a much darker tone. In this case, author Paul Morris, was searching for truth and reconciliation in Angola 25 years after fighting there as a South African Defence Force (SADF) soldier in the South African Border War. He decided to do this by riding his bicycle to and through areas where his unit had fought a quarter-century prior.
This poignant book travels to and fro in time from his childhood in Cape Town, to the present day bicycle trip across the southern third of Angola, to the terrors of the battlefield, and then back again. It is an eye-opening account that will send shivers down your spine, especially if you have never been subject to an armed attack on the ground or from the air. It also is a cathartic rite of passage for Mr. Morris, as he rediscovers his humanity through meeting the people he once fought against. He also finds that he really likes the people of Angola.
I highly recommend this engaging book because it will provide great insights to reader of what the average grunt soldier suffers through at the beck and call (and disposal) of others higher up in the chain of command. It was not like the author had much choice, given the option of two years in the army or many more years caged away in a South African prison.
As the nation of South Africa so clearly demonstrated, you can find truth and reconciliation following many years under the ugly heel of apartheid. Fortunately for Mr. Morris, individual citizens who had nothing to do with oppressive policies could do the same. His excellent book is testament to the strength and rebirth of the human spirit. Cheers!
p.s. This important book by Paul Morris highlights the dangerous, tedious, and impressive efforts of the Halo Trust to rid the world of the scourge of land mines. It certainly lead me to make a contribution to this very worthy cause. Please consider doing the same. Thanks!