Half Way Down an African Moon is a distillation of journeys made in sub Saharan Africa between 1972 and 2005. During these journeys, I came to know an older Africa, of ancient story-telling, wisdoms and simple courtesies living on unchanged beside the almost seismic political and social changes that marked the post-Independence era. It took me many years to realise this and with it the futility of trying to understand Africa through Western ideas and ideology. The views, for example, of a Lagos market woman fashioned by a cosmology of tribal deities and ancestral spirits are a world away from our own beliefs and creation myth - whatever the missionaries may think. One of the two aims of this book is to transmit something of all this, along with the good humour, tolerance and resilience of the people I encountered, to the reader.
The second aim is to highlight the destruction of wildlife and its habitat that is transforming whole regions almost beyond recognition and pushing many species to the brink of extinction. How much some may ask, does all this matter? Will our world be any worse off if the mountain gorilla, the white ruffed lemur or the black rhino fade into extinction? I happen to believe it would and suspect that a great many people would feel so too.
For the natural world is something that affects us all. Today, in Europe and the United States more people visit national parks and zoos than attend all kinds of sporting events in a single year. What is it then about wild animals and wild places that attract people in such numbers? The answer is that we are reminded, however tenuously, of something deep and ancient within ourselves and which we yearn to communicate with. Quite simply we need the wild which is why I believe this book is of relevance not only to readers who have visited Africa or plan to do so but for the millions of people increasingly concerned by the mounting destruction of all that is beautiful, wild and free.