My Latest Read: Café d’Afrique: A Personal Discovery


When Tineke Van der Eecken first arrives in Africa as part of an international aid programme, she brings with her a mix of childhood dreams and Western preconceived ideas. ‘I came to Africa in high heels,’ she writes.

But when she moves to Zambia, Tineke falls in love – in a completely new way – with the country and its culture. Now she dreams of setting up a ‘cultural restaurant’ where locals and tourists alike can sample authentic Zambian cuisine, music and dance.

Her dream comes true, but can it last?

In the attempt to meet the expected challenges, Tineke must come through some unexpected tests and trials that take her not only beyond borders, but also past boundaries. She wonders if what matters may not be the success of her venture so much as the person she is becoming.

Set against a shifting backdrop of social, political and cultural life in Zambia, this part-memoir, part-travelogue, part-coming-of-age story is a celebration of friendship, not just with people, but with a county. (from the description)

A book which only tells a story is fine, but I prefer one which teaches a lesson. The subtitle “A Personal Discovery” is most accurate: Tineke learned much about herself during the period covered by the book.

Her unflinching honesty about the joys and pains made those personal discoveries mine. Lessons about everything from the joy of travel, the frustration of bureaucracy, friendship, betrayal, food, music, and business.

I started Café d’Afrique: A Personal Discovery late Friday night, just to get a taste. I had other things to do Saturday morning, but spent it finishing the entire book.

There’s more story here; not just Tineke’s but those of the people she met. I hope to read them one day.

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