Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mungo Park

Mungo Park?

Yes, Mungo Park, a man I learned about for the first time when I read T.C. Boyle's novel, Water Music, a debut effort that blended fact -- Mungo Park was an 18th century African explorer from Scotland -- with [Amazon product description] "the wild adventures of Ned Rise, thief and whoremaster, and Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, through London’s seamy gutters and Scotland’s scenic highlands—to their grand meeting in the heart of darkest Africa. There they join forces and wend their hilarious way to the source of the Niger."

All this is of no import, really, although I have a copy of Water Music, and I've read it a couple of times. But today we received a note of thanks from a priest in Nigeria, part of an order that both evangelizes and provides refuges/retreats for those who have taken religious vows.

On the envelope was what at first glance a contemporary portrait of Thomas Jefferson or even George Washington. Of course, we know that Liberia has significant links to the USA, but I wondered, "Nigeria? Why a bewigged while man on a national stamp?"

At closer inspection, it turned out to be a commemoration of Mungo Park. The legend reads Bicentennial Anniversary of Mungo Park, 1795-2006, Jebba-Kwara State.

By the way, this is also the 25th anniversary of the publication of Water Music. It's worth reading.
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