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Paul Morris Discusses Writing Back to Angola and Discovering the Meaning of Pilgrimages

Back to AngolaPaul Morris spoke to Nadine Maritz about his recently published book, Back to Angola, in which he recounts his experiences fighting in Angola in 1987 and his return to the country in 2012 when he embarked on a 1500-kilometre cycle trip.

Morris explains that he had been resistant to the idea of the trip being a pilgrimage but that by the end of it he understood what it meant to go on one.

I loved the past and present comparisons in the novel. It somehow portrays your past- you and present- you. It’s definitely a reflection of growth. Not many people exposed to war are open about their experiences. What made you decided to actually put it on paper?

I suppose there are several reasons. I like to express myself in writing. I always wanted to write something about my war experiences but I never thought they were particularly remarkable. In combination with a trip back to Angola by bicycle, I thought I had something to say. A combination of personal growth, the peace in Angola, a window of opportunity in my personal circumstances all made the journey and the writing up of it possible. I think it is very important to acknowledge that everyone is different and will deal with their past in the best way they can. Sometimes, because there may be no safe outlet, the best way is not to talk about it outside of the closed ranks of former comrades.

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