The journalist first entered the field after missionaries got him a teaching job in Uganda in 1971.
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