EAC Book of the Week – One Year in Africa

27 March 2017

Each week our librarian selects a book from the our library to highlight. Volunteers, interns, and researchers at the EAC have access to the library, but we also share the book here for friends of the EAC who live abroad.

Hans van den Houten. One Year In Africa: 1964-65,
AuthorHouse, 2016.
A man’s experiences of his life in Africa (Congo, Burundi and Rwanda) during 1964-65.


“I felt wrapped in a dense heat, laden with moisture and many indefinable odors. Decaying vegetation from strange and exotic trees and plants mixed their fragrances; these were the smells of Africa.” (p. 1).

Hans van den Houten vividly talks about his experiences of one year in Africa from the moment he arrives in Congo Léopoldville, for his first assignment as an international employee of Shell, to the moment he departs: “Now with the closure of the door, the envelope sealed, and experiences –some bad, but mostly good– were contained and locked into my memories of one year in Africa.” (p.220).

Social life, parties, dancing and music events, politics, business issues and challenges, sports and everyday life, love affairs, weekends on the Congo River, difficulties and risky situations, such as crocodiles and burglars, Burundi drummers and dancers: those are some of the topics that come across the entire book to illustrate the author’s adventurous and rather interesting life in Africa.

His writing style with the simplicity and immediacy of his voice makes it a fascinating book!


Main subjects/keywords: Africa, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Personal narratives.