Thursday, May 27, 2010

Graham Greene’s Sierra Leone Escape

Some of the best behind-the-scenes international reporting can be found in the BBC’s “From Our Own Correspondent” series; case in point, this story on the fall of Graham Greene’s favorite African hotel (and if you’re not familiar with Greene’s works, go now and pick up a copy of Our Man in Havana or The Quiet American). Once “The City” hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone was the hub for life among a community of ex-pats living out the last days of colonialism in West Africa. But, for “Correspondent” writer Tim Butcher, the hotel’s decline and eventual fall is an allegory for the strife and civil war that have plagued Sierra Leone since the end of colonial rule. The City went into decline after the death of its long-time owner; eventually the building ended its life as a brothel before being consumed by a fire in 2000. Butcher, a Greene fan, traveled to Freetown hoping to find a link to the writer’s past, instead he found only a pile of rubble.

Check out his engaging report, here.
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