The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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Student Question

What is the author's purpose in "The Ultimate Safari"?

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If we look at the opening lines of the story, where the girl's mother went out to the store and went missing (Notice:  "She never returned.  Never."), we can begin to understand Nadine Gordimer's purpose in writing "The Ultimate Safari."  Simply put, Gordimer seeks to give voice through this girl about the horrific plight of refugees along the Mozambique- South African border.  The girl doesn't even have a name. She is simply a preadolescent who is aware that her country, her world, her sense of identity is a pawn in this ongoing conflict that has destabilized her life.  The entire story of an unnamed girl in some remote Mozambique village somewhere along the border between it and South Africa represents so many individual's struggle.  These are voices that have been silenced through governmental repression and ignored by so much of the international community.  While there was much attention given to repressive regimes all over the world, very little light seemed to shine on the Apartheid government of South Africa and the destabilization of so many African nations, post Colonialism.  This seemed to be a part of the world narrative that went missing, went unaccounted, and was placed on a list that was later to be mislaid.  Gordimer's purpose in writing this story, and so many of her works, was to bring attention to a part of the world that had been relegated to the margins of silence.  In giving a story to a girl who has no name, Gordimer's purpose seemed clear:  Give her, and the millions like her, a voice and a reason to be heard, a narrative to be told.

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