The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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Student Question

What attitudes of the child are revealed in "The Ultimate Safari"?

Expert Answers

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I think the daughter reflects much of the prevailing common attitudes about the nature of the civil war which caused so much chaos in Mozambique during the 1980s.  Initially, like most children, she doesn't understand the premise of the war.  She cannot fully grasp why there is so much conflict around her village and in what the delineated sides believe.  While this is very appropriate for children, it is a common attitude that many citizens of Mozambique shared during the Civil War. There was not a clear articulation of sides, but rather continual internal unrest which was promulgated by those with sinister agendas.  The daughter also displays a combined sense of concern and abject loss about her home, her village, and her life, as she once knew it.  Again, a child's belief system is a common attitude of many of the people in Mozambique where loved ones disappeared (like the girl's mother and father), presumably murdered, and what once defined one's home is literally plundered and destroyed in plain sight.  I think the last common attitude that is revealed in the daughter is the loss of community.  In a village setting where there used to be a strong sense of communal identity and fraternal bonds, the Civil War did much to rupture those bonds and force a sense of nomadic wandering in order for individuals to gain the hope of a better life.  We see this in the daughter's plight, and it is a common attitude revealed in the story of "The Ultimate Safari" as well as the narratives of those who flooded the refugee camps, in search of a place away from their homes.

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