cover image Cameroon with Egbert

Cameroon with Egbert

Dervla Murphy. Overlook Press, $21.95 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-415-0

Irish writer Murphy ( Full Tilt ) comes here as a neophyte to West Africa, though not to world travel, having roughed it in India, Nepal, Peru and Madagascar in the past 15 years. In March of 1987 she trudged into the highlands of Cameroon on ``a bush-path from Bamenda to N'gaounderesic , via the remote and wondrously beautiful Mbabosic mountains,'' in the company of her 18-year-old daughter Rachel and Egbert, a packhorse purchased locally. Her departure from the beaten path of tourism, and her frank preference for sleeping outdoors, give Murphy a special perspective on the African interior (``a warthog or antelope, met as it were socially, is worth ten lions viewed from a Land Rover''). This also affects the Cameroonians' attitudes toward the Murphys--because there is no man traveling with them, the author is continually assumed to be Rachel's father or husband, and finally she takes to unbuttoning her shirt whenever introduced. The troupe is nothing if not doughty; Rachel's malaria delays their itinerary but does not alter their route; when Egbert stampedes, they learn they can move faster without him, although they miss his company. Murphy's sense of adventure is exhilarating, and usually her prose is a match for it. Photos. (Apr.)