The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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I want to know why it is called "The Ultimate Safari" by Nadine Gordimer.

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Being a Native South African, Gordimer is mindful of the disparity within the concept of "safari."  The idea of the "hunt" or "safari" in Africa has the connotation of wealthy individuals who hunt animals for sport.  Their behavior is for leisure, for entertainment, and a reflection of human beings desire to be in control.  Africa had always been seen as as "the ultimate safari" for those who were purveyors of wealth, privilege, and excitement.  This image is set in stark contrast to the genocide that has happened on the African continent in the last century.  In this depiction, the notion of hunting  and killing in cold blood is not evident in people against animals, but in people against people.  With civil wars, tribal antagonisms, ulterior motives from those in the position of power, the people in many parts of Africa have become "game" in this twisted version of the safari.  In terms of its application in Gordimer's novel, the tribe of bandits who have occupied the girl's village and, essentially, "hunted" people such as the girl's mother and father are involved in a safari- like situation where the hunted are the village townspeople who must wander the plain in search of shelter, food, and hope.  It is not accidental that the path the girl and her family must take to leave their Mozambique village and cross borders takes them though Kruger Park, a setting for safari game and hunt.  The image is quite stark:  Wealthy tourists hunting for animals, punctuated by refugees walking through, stealthily, trying to dodge both the bullets from elitist foreigners as well as from indigenous people engaged in brutal slaughter. As tourists dine on their hunted animals, refugees starve for lack of food.   Such an image makes for "the ultimate safari," a statement on what Africa has come to represent and what it has become.

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