In an extract from her new book, the Kenyan writer reflects on how guidebooks to Africa, with their warnings of danger, instilled fear in her – until a solo trip to Burkina Faso
The pitch-black night of the Sahara does not yield to the sunlight until it is good and ready, and when it does, it flees so fast you would think the place is constantly bathed in blinding light. Stark sunrises turn the giant dunes dull brown for a scant few seconds; for a handful of minutes, as the sun is creeping up the sky, the sand glows.
Then the sky cracks open and turns brilliant blue, and everything around you will shimmer in response. Until that moment when the blue scares off the dark, the dusty roads leading from Gorom-Gorom to Oursi, a small town outside a small town in northern Burkina Faso, are shrouded in the desert’s secrecy, blanketed by inscrutable darkness and breathtaking silence. Six nights a week, that is.