Donanne Ralston went to Africa in 1958 as the daughter of a State Department officer assigned as the American Consul in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She finished her secondary education there and then left for college in the States.
Fred Hunter went to Africa in 1963 as a US Information Service officer assigned to the Congo. He served first on the country’s eastern frontier in Bukavu, then was sent to Coquilhatville (now Mbandaka) in the remote northwest to open an American Cultural Center.
Later, after Fred and Donanne married, they returned to Africa in 1969. After taking a masters degree in African Studies at UCLA, Fred had become The Christian Science Monitor’s Africa correspondent. The Hunters lived in Nairobi for four years; their son Paul was born there.
They returned to Africa several times in the new century, interested to see what had happened in their absence.
We begin with Donanne’s account of a Cape-to-Cairo trip she made from South Africa just before leaving for college. We find Fred in various parts of the Congo; he ‘s evacuated three times from Coq. Then there are journalist’s visits to South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and a host of other places. Finally tourist trips to Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mali, Niger and Tunisia. Photos accompany many of the accounts.
Join us on the tour! We expect to post new travel accounts each week. Send us comments. The purpose of this website is to share these experiences with friends, old and new, intrigued by travels in Africa.
A reader requested a listing of TIA posts and the dates they were published. Here it is. The individual posts are available in the Archives on the Home Page under the categories noted.
Cape to Cairo
1. Donanne as a Foreign Service daughter in South Africa 11/1/10
2. Donanne’s Cape to Cairo trip with her parents before college 11/12/10
2. Donanne’s letter to grandparents from SAfrica 1/28/11
1. Fred’s first visit to Coquilhatville 11/19/10
2. Congo Poli Sci 101 11/26/10
1. The plan to visit the Kivu’s Parc National Albert 12/3/10
2. Recruiting Charley for the trip 12/10/10
3. Recruiting Paul Wemboyendja 12/17/10
4. Stuck in the mud near a hippo wallow 12/24/10
5. Vitshumbi rescue (God be praised!) 12/31/10
6. Visit to De Muncks’ plantation 1/7/11
1. Missionary Helen Hoffman in Shabunda 1/14/11
2. Col. Joseph Mobutu in Bukavu 1/21/11
Coq Early Days
2. Settling into Coq #1 – the Andrés 2/11/11
3. Early Days in Coq – letters from first ten days there 2/18/11
4. Settling into Coq #1 – le pillage, offer of the André home 2/25/11
5. Christmas in Coq / Bad news arrives 3/4/11
6. More bad news 3/11/11
7. Adjusting to Coq #1 – Boudart’s maxims 3/18/11
8. Adjusting to Coq #2 – How Boudart escaped le pillage 3/25/11
9. Adjusting to Coq #3 – More on André & Boudart 4/1/11
10. Adjusting to Coq #4 – With Mme André to an art show 4/8/11
1. By Boat to Léo 4/15/11
2. An Ambassador Visits #1: Learning He’s Coming 4/22/11
3. An Ambassador Visits #2, Hectic Preparation 4/29/11
4. An Ambassador Visits #3, The Visit Occurs 5/6/11
5. Visiting Missionaries #1: Driving to Monieka 5/13/11
6. Visiting Missionaries #2: Life of a Missionary Doctor 5/20/11
7. Visiting Missionaries #3: More Missionary Doctor 5/27/11
8. Visiting Missionaries #4: An African Woman Considers Technology 6/3/11
9. Mobutu’s American Airmen Need Congolese Francs & US Ambassador to Central African Republic Chooses My House 6/10/11
10. USIS’s African Chief Drops Out of the Sky 6/17/11
1. Life in a Cultural Center 7/1/11
2. Running from Rebels #1: Due to the rebellion, the possibility of evacuation becomes real 7/8/11
3. Running from Rebels #2: Coquins leave Coq; panic grows 7/15/11
4. Running from Rebels #3: The Situation gets worse – or at least seems to 7/22/11
5. Running from Rebels #4: As The Situation deteriorates, preparations for evacuation continue. Significant differences remains as to when it should occur 7//11
6. Running from Rebels #5: Fred warns his friends the Andrés that the Americans intend to leave 8/5/11
7. Running from Rebels #6: Tom Madison decides to evacuate. Fred and the Madisons to Léo 8/12/11
8. Running from Rebels #7: Fred flies to Gemena to rescue American missionaries and to Coq to evacuate friends 8/19/11
9. Running from Rebels #8: Fred tries to wangle a return to Coq 8/26/11
10. At Limbo in Léo: no progress on a return to Coq, then approval 9/2/11