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Goodbye, Dr Banda

Lessons for the West From a Small African Country

by Alexander Chula


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ISBN: 9781788855792
Published: 04 May 2023
Format: E-Book
Extent: 320
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Birlinn , Polygon
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About the Book

‘You may never have been, may never go, may never even have heard of the place – but Malawi will repay your attention. It is one of the smallest, poorest countries in Africa, often overlooked; but its relationship with us in the West has been extraordinary.’

In a ruined dictator’s palace, Alexander Chula – a classicist-turned-doctor, fresh out of Oxford – stumbles upon an oak treasure chest. Inside is a priceless, antique edition of Julius Caesar’s Gallic War. This unexpected talisman of Western high culture belongs to the mercurial Dr Banda, a man of many parts: scholarly physician, anti-colonial hero, brutal tyrant, and fallen philosopher-king.

Banda leads the author deep into the heart of this mysterious country, there to uncover a bizarre meeting of worlds: between one of Africa's most fascinating indigenous cultures and the best and worst of our own. Here tribal ritual collides with Greek theatre; masked dancers with roving classicists; poets and pop stars with missionary-explorers; hippies and kleptocrats with long-suffering peasants.

The story is enigmatic but exhilarating, by turns edifying and deeply uncomfortable. But we would do well to examine it: Malawi presents urgent lessons which resonate piercingly in our vexed age of culture wars and identity crisis.

The Author

Alexander Chula

Alexander Chula is a writer and NHS junior doctor. He was born and raised in London, and is of mixed Thai and British ancestry. He read Classics at Worcester College, Oxford, then medicine at the University of London. He has worked in Malaŵi both as a teacher of Latin and Greek and as a doctor.

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