JONATHAN FALLA Why the West should leave Africa alone

Jonathan Falla has travelled the world as an aid worker. It was an experience

that came to bear on his second novel.

Poor Mercy. set in Sudan ten years ago. The book challenges Western Viewpoints about Africa in terms of famine and social structure. and pulls no punches in the process. 'Western c0untries tend to perceive Africa in terms of whether there's a famine or not.’ says Falla. ‘For the people in Darfur that's actually a secondary consideration. They're much more concerned about war. security and SOClal collapse.‘

With that in mind. Falla is understandably not a fan of the recent (38 meeting. ‘Yet again it‘s the West telling Africa how to run its affairs.’ he says. ‘and the mm of my novel is that Africans are perfectly capable of assessing their own affairs and making up their own minds.‘

Falla's debut. Blue Poppies.

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Dan Cruickshank

The architecture expert has visited Afghanistan and Iraq and revealed the stories behind some of Britain’s finest buildings. But Cruickshank’s current popularity is largely

due the brilliantly entertaining TV series Around the World in 80 Treasures, in which he visited 36 countries in four and a half months, exploring art and architecture in locations as diverse as Australia, Peru, Italy, Cambodia and China. His enthusiasm and knowledge was a constant: this visit is a chance for you and me to bask in it.

I 22 Aug, 6.30pm, £8 (£6).

concerned the oppressed in Tibet. while the novel he's currently working

on is about Indonesian terrorists.

Considering his rather bleak subject matter, is it hard to be optimistic about humankind? ‘Well, I don't tend to write happy endings. It's a bit difficult with famine and terrorists. But when you're dealing with real people there must always be optimism.‘

Recommended reading: Poor Mercy is a frightening depiction of the futility of

; foreign aid in Sudan. (Doug Johnstone)

I 22 Aug, 2.30pm, £7 (£5).

DON MOCULLIN Legendary photographer gains perspective but keeps his edge

Don McCullin. veteran war photographer, spent 20 years on the frontline of global carnage. documenting some of the bloodiest battles and conflicts of the 20th century. From Cambodia to the Congo and Vietnam to Pakistan, his images

achieved iconic status and sealed his

reputation as one of the world's


greatest war photographersThen, weary of war, he changed his direction to focus on landscapes and still life. His latest book documents the lost remote tribes in the valley of the Omo River in Ethiopia. Amidst the modern world's

. increasingly insatiable appetite for

change, here are a people whose lifestyle has not altered substantially for millennia. where practises such as circumcision. self-mutilation and ritualistic fighting are commonplace. Ancient tribes are adorned with modern weapons and there's a stillness that lends a quiet eerierness. No longer on the battlefields. he is documenting something almost more sinister. conflict on the brink, proof he has lost neither his edge nor his instinct. He captures

perfectly the sadness of a people

caught precariously between the possible erosion of their old life and the escalation of the new. ‘Poverty. guns and murder are poisoning them.’ says


Approaching 70. McCulIin shows no

signs of slowing down. His latest

touring exhibition, Life Interrupted. is the result of four years documenting the

HIV/Aids crisis in Africa. McCullin. a

master at capturing conflict. may have found some semblance of peace. but

he remains determined to show the

world's injustices. Recommended reading: Don McCu/lin in Africa. the great photographer's latest.

(Frances Anderson)

I 27 Aug, 7.30pm, f3 7 (£5). Life

Interrupted, Roxy Art House, 558

2808, 4 Sep—4 Oct. Frances Anderson is curator of Life Interrupted.

PETER LAMONT Parapsychology academic uproots psychic enigma

'Daniel Dunglas Home was one of the most famous people of his time.‘ Edinburgh University's Peter Lamont says of the forgotten paranormal darling of the Victorian glitterati. ‘Most people haven‘t heard of him at all, or have heard something that's wrong.’

Lamont. whose previous books have included Magic in Theory, has in The First Psychic written the biography of a controversial Scottish medium who rocketed to international notoriety. his apparent interaction with the spirit world unexplained at the time and still raising questions today.

'Are psychic phenomena real or not?‘ asks Lamont. ‘That's the big question. and I think the best way to try and answer it is to look at the best evidence. If there's one guy that's real. that's all it takes miracles are possible. And if the best guy can't convince you, nothing will. I think Home is the exemplar; take a look at the best example in histOry and make