Richard Dowden's Thirty-Five Year Love Affair With Africa
Richard worked for the Times until 1986 when he became Africa Editor of the Independent and in 1995 took the post of Africa Editor at The Economist. He also made three television documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 on Africa.
Question: How did you first arrive in Africa?
Richard Dowden: My name is Richard Dowden. I’m a journalist and I’m Director of the Royal African Society in Great Britain.
It’s hard to remember any one thing. After I left university, I wanted to travel. And I ran into these missionaries, the White Fathers. And they said, “Why don’t you come to Africa? It’s just wonderful.” And gradually, through that, they fix me up with a teaching job in a school. And I didn’t want to live in a town, in a big school, I wanted to be out in a rural area. And that’s exactly where where I was. So that’s how I started in Africa.
I’ve been traveling there ever since. This is 1971, I first went to Uganda. And I left at the end of 1972. And then, after a succession of other jobs, I turned into a journalist.
And once I’ve had a job on a paper, I started nagging them and saying, I want to go to Africa. And went to South Africa in ’79. And then; go there in ’83. And since 1983, really, I’ve been doing it almost full time. That I did do a lot of work in the Middle East as well, in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and a couple of those areas sometimes.
Recorded: March 16, 2009
The journalist first entered the field after missionaries got him a teaching job in Uganda in 1971.