Political instability in any country is detrimental to the peaceful coexistence of the people of that country. Mozambique went through untold devastation during the time of civil war in 1988. In this period, the Communist Frelimo government of Mozambique was constantly at loggerheads with the guerilla forces of the National Resistance Movement. As a result of the tussle that the two parties triggered, hundreds of thousands of civilians died in the hands of bandits while other several hundreds of thousands perished due to malnutrition that was pervasive (Dajya 397).
Life took a totally different twist and the only hope for the apprehensive survivors was the refugee camp which was hundreds of miles away. As described in the “Ultimate Safari” by Nadine Gordimer, the journey to the camp was equally risky as the migrants had to traverse the large Kruger Park Reserve for a number of days and nights before finally arriving at the refugee camp. The main question of the essay is how people react to terrible conditions of war and still remain humans. The essay analyses various aspects of the story “The Ultimate Safari” exploring themes and character traits that have significantly contributed to the success of the story. It first discusses the child’s optimism as demonstrated by the nameless narrator who is also the main character in the story. Then it examines the sacrifices made by a number of characters to save vulnerable families from the devastation caused by war. Finally, the essay delves into the uncertainties that revolve around the story especially as it comes to an end.
The narrator, who is a nameless young girl, demonstrates an amazing optimism amid a plethora of anguish that befalls her entire family. The cruel effects of civil war have translated the lives of villagers in the entire country of Mozambique into a nightmare. The future is darkened as death lingers around every household at the behest of bandits. At first, they stole all the family’s belongings. To augment the misery, the same bandits would come a little later to set all the huts in the villages ablaze (Larsen 295). The action did not only render families vagrants but also without anything to eat. A number of children were reported dying of hunger as a result of the war.
The narrator’s only hope is the mother who moves up and down to take care of her two children. Unfortunately, she goes missing one evening when she left home scavenging for some cooking oil. In this situation, one would expect this girl to give up on life completely. The tribulations are totally weighing the entire family down. First, the father went missing presumably taking part in the war and there were no whereabouts whether he died or was still alive. While on the way to the refugee camp, the grandfather also goes missing. The grandmother is obliged to make the tough decision of leaving the grandfather behind rather than risking the life of the entire group searching for him (Lazar 786). This is, in fact, supposed to add to the misery as it darkens the future even more. However, the young girl remains optimistic throughout the whole journey that her parents as well as her grandfather will resurface one day. She expresses her hopes irrespective of the possibility that the cruel bandits would have lynched her mother and her grandfather would have probably been attacked by wild beasts. Even after safe arrival at the refugee camp, the girl still hoped to go back to Mozambique to find her parents and her grandfather.
The kind of optimism demonstrated by the young nameless girl is an exceptional one. This is the kind of spirit that many heroes and heroines possess and which is necessary for one to rise against all odds (Gordimer 16). It is probably the kind of spirit that nations across the world possessed as a tool to rise against colonialism and any totalitarian governments.
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In life, sacrifices are worth making. In the story ‘The Ultimate Safari’, the grandmother has made an enormous sacrifice for the lives and safety of her grandchildren. She depicts a selfless heart by selling her church clothes and shoes on the way in order to purchase food and water container for her grandchildren (Dajya 397). It is an incredible gesture that would be least expected even from the real parents of the children. The father, oblivious of the fate of his own family, had already quit his responsibilities to take part in the war. Similarly, the grandmother decides to give up the search for her husband who went missing easing himself into the bush. She makes this decision with an assumption that the grandfather may have been attacked by wild animals and so it would be more disastrous to put the lives of her grandchildren at risk looking for him. This is a bitter sacrifice considering the fact that this is someone with whom she has spent her entire life (Gordimer 15). Under normal circumstances, one would expect that the old lady does the opposite; leaves her grandchildren and searches for her husband. Even after arriving safely at the refugee camp, the old lady sacrifices her comfort to ensure her grandchildren are comfortable. She goes out to find a job to earn money that would facilitate the children’s education. She, in fact, fails to buy herself new shoes as she puts the welfare of the grandchildren first.
Another form of sacrifice is depicted by the man who leads the migrants through Kruger Park Reserve. The man could keep vigil overnight scaring away the wild beasts from attacking and dragging the exhausted migrants. This is a rare spirit and it can only found in those who are ready to die for the sake of humanity. Many nationalists around the world would make such sacrifices that finally liberated their territories from captivity (Lazar 794). The moral lesson learned from these two characters, the grandmother and the lead guide, is that the welfare of the majority is usually entrusted to the hands of the few brave human beings. It is therefore due to their actions that the fate of the group is shaped. It is worth noting that the two characters played an instrumental role in the journey and the ultimate success of the migrants.
Uncertainties Revolving Around the Ultimate Safari
The “Ultimate Safari” is a story full of uncertainties. Although the young girl is quite optimistic that one day she would return home to find her parents and her grandfather, it is totally unclear if indeed her relatives are alive. There is a high possibility that her father died in the civil war and that the family may never get to know his fate (Gordimer 18). It is also possible that the mother of the narrator may have been hijacked and killed by the bandits whose main aim was to loot and destroy life. It is also not clear if the war would end and which kind of effects it would have had on the entire country of Mozambique. The thought of going back is therefore something that not many in the camp would dare to contemplate. The grandmother is quite infuriated with the interrogation of the reporter, who asks her whether she would be ready to return home or not. This is because of the fear of the unknown. No one could expect that Mozambique would ever regain it peaceful state after the civil war erupted (Dajya 400).
This is typical for any country that has ever experienced political unrest. The nationals are usually left in a state of uncertainty when influential factions turn against each other. A lot of damage is usually done to the country’s infrastructure. Many lives are also lost in the process making the remaining people live in a state of apprehension. Many people usually relocate to other countries and make a permanent residence there. When uncertainties arise, people are bound to be hopeless because future dreams become quite elusive (Larsen 298). This is what the ‘Ultimate Safari’ is all about. The grandmother is adamant to admit the suggestion of going back to her homeland because she feels there is no hope of getting her loved ones. Furthermore, she sees no hope for peaceful coexistence in Mozambique after all that happened. The only amazing thing is the way the young girl expresses hope of a better tomorrow even after all the anguish that revolved around her life.
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Political turmoil is a major setback in the development of any nation. It cripples nearly all developmental projects, damages property, and causes untold injuries to people apart from many losing their lives. The story of ‘Ultimate Safari’ is an expression of hope amid tribulations that any society may plunge into due to political instability. Through the main character, the audience is inspired to believe that there is always hope in every misfortune. People are not supposed to be looking only at the challenges but also have a perception of triumph after a hardship. Such perceptions are necessary, especially among those entrusted with leadership responsibility. Similarly, the leader must be optimistic enough in order to encourage even those guiding them through any difficulty. Challenges can only have dominion over people’s lives if the afflicted allow them to take control over their lives. Only hope can scare a challenge and translate it into a stepping stone to a further horizon.