Out of the jungle

I’m reading General William Booth’s classic ‘In Darkest England and the Way Out.’ (You can download it free if you follow the link). Well worth reading on its own merit – a book years ahead of its time, very influential in social policy and politics. Booth starts by reminding his readers of Mr Stanley’s (‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’- actually he probably never said it) exploration through the Congo, the descriptions of which were being read voraciously all across Britain at the time. I just returned from speaking at a funeral and my mind went off at a tangent as it does, I was struck by certain parallels. Stanley was describing to his readers in Victorian England what they could not perceive. ‘The Lost Continent.’ Darkest Africa. Pygmy tribes and cannibals. How could they imagine ‘forests’ (he uses the word because the word jungle hadn’t yet been coined) larger than France, where it poured rain every day and the sun rarely pierced the canopy? Then there are the tribes Stanley encountered. They had never seen a white person before. He describes […]