Paradise Dammed: The Tragedy of Lake Turkana

Paradise Dammed: The Tragedy of Lake Turkana by John Hare

This book starts out with a journey of daring exploration and culminates in a catastrophic man-made disaster.

The first part records John Hare and his team’s circumambulation of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya with dromedary camels, a feat never before recorded. It was accomplished in temperatures which at one point reached 60.1° Celsius. 

The team with their camels crossed the mighty Omo River, the main feeder river for the lake, in south-west Ethiopia; traversed a brittle, razor-sharp, lava-strewn volcanic plateau; and ventured across drought-stricken landscapes, while narrowly escaping harm and deadly danger from conflicts between warring tribes.

It was a tough trek through what was until very recently a remote, wild and untamed wilderness, whose fish resources sustained 100,000 people who live near its shores, and whose volatile weather patterns and soaring temperatures attracted only the most rugged and determined adventurers.

In 2010 this vast wilderness changed forever with the construction of five huge dams in Ethiopia, so industrial-sized cotton and sugar plantations could be exploited. In the course of this governmental land grab the tribes who occupied the Omo Delta and others who lived further upriver were evicted without adequate consultation from land which their ancestors had farmed for centuries.

Further south, on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, the construction of the largest wind turbine farm in Africa has irrevocably changed this Cradle of Civilisation into a noisy modern industrial site.

In a world in which famines and wars rage, where fundamental ideologies are in conflict, and where pandemics know no human boundaries, the Omo peoples’ voice has been drowned out. This book gives them that voice.

John Hare is one of the greats. Almost single-handedly, he has raised awareness of the existence of the wild camel in the Gobi Desert and helped to save it from extinction. Now he has written a thrilling and passionate book about an incredibly tough journey in 2006 by camel around Lake Turkana. This was through an arid war zone where the small, intrepid party faced extreme danger and successfully made their way through country now devastated by disastrous ‘development’ on the Omo river, funded by the Chinese. This book combines a vivid description of an impressive expedition with an exposé of one of the most grave destructions of many ancient cultures taking place anywhere in the world.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison

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