New Book: The Ringtone And The Drum

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Bafata, Guinea-Bissau

The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the world’s poorest countries, is a new book written by an old friend of mine, Mark Weston. Please read the reviews and go find a copy immediately. It’s always inspiring to see people doing great things and this provides a view of Africa from the inside, a view we know well.


‘Reading Mark Weston’s The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World’s Poorest Countries shortly after Hotel Africa, I was struck by the echoes of this dilemma. Weston and his wife set out on an ambitious journey through West Africa, but somewhere in Burkina Faso, his mental state begins to deteriorate. For a journalist or a human rights advocate, the consequent loss of objectivity might be disastrous, but the travelogue format gives Weston the leeway to engage his breakdown directly. Instead of minimizing it, or alternately, presenting West Africa as the monolithic “thing that drove him crazy,” he uses it to shrink the distance between himself and his subjects, generating real insight into the emotional lives of the individuals with whom he interacts.’

Bubaque, Bijagos Islands

‘The book is full of rich detail and interesting historical anecdotes (as well as a surprising amount of political economy shout-outs) about a part of the world that most readers will never see, but its real value lies in Weston’s success at communicating exactly what he set out to discover: “a better idea of how the world’s poorest people make it through the day.” Worth a read.’ Kate Cronin-Furman, Wronging Rights

Rio Grande, Buba

‘The Ringtone and the Drum is high-energy food for wanderlust. Teeming with interesting facts, it turns Weston’s perspicacious eye on some of the least visited countries on earth. The result is an accessible, unique and enchanting account. But beware: it will tempt even the least daring to pack their bags for West Africa!’ David Bloom, Professor of Economics and Demography, Harvard University

The Freetown Ferry

‘A wise and compelling book, which offers a real picture of what daily life is like in West Africa. Weston is a brave and resourceful traveller, who has entered the heart of some of the most fascinating and least visited parts of the world.’ Toby Green, author of Meeting the Invisible Man: Secrets and Magic in West Africa

The Niger At Bamako, Mali

Well done Mark!

Mark Weston is a writer, researcher and policy adviser working on international development, public health, human rights, radicalisation and other global issues;

Visit his blog:

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