Is it possible that a nation's ability to make peace is more important than its ability to make war? Will we reach a point in the history of humanity when survival depends on the skills of peace making and not war? Is it possible in some far future time we will come to understand that what really mattered in the history of a nation's life was not its ability to make war but its ability to make peace?
We are just starting on this process of learning how to make peace. In war outcomes are seldom predictable and true consequences are known, if ever, only years afterwards. The outcomes of our tentative efforts to make peace seem even less predictable. No nation can match the United States in good intentions. But results are all too often the opposite of what we intended.
This novel is about living and working in West Africa. It is set in the country of Sakra. It is not a sociological tract, nor is it fantasy. The protagonists are fictional but the situations in which they find themselves are similar to those that might be encountered by volunteer teachers in any one of the new nations of West Africa.
The story line revolves about three dominant themes that correspond roughly to the early, middle and latter chapters of the book. The first of these themes is the manner in which outsiders adjust to and develop a sense of their role in a foreign culture.
Alice, a lady of 62, Peace Corps volunteer, and retired from the Washington D.C. public schools; is the focus of the first part of the novel. She is assigned to teach Mathematics at the University-College of Mbordo. Her struggle to adjust, survive, and learn to enjoy living in West Africa is a study in strength and perseverance. Other protagonists are introduced, at first only as incidental to Alice's often traumatic journey from alienation to a level of mutual human acceptance.
In the middle chapters the story line shifts away from Alice's problems to the second major theme of interaction not only between foreigners and Sakraians but also among the ethnic groups of the nation of Sakra itself. The problems of life in Sakra for Africans stand out in stark contrast to the problems that Alice and other expatriates have in adjusting to life in West Africa. Civil strife in Sakra intensifies this contrast. Questions of adjustment become a good deal less significant when survival itself is in question.
The dominant theme of the final chapters is the manner in which events beyond the control of the protagonists lead to personal and public crisis that place them in situations that become tests of character and belief.
"A gripping must read book for anyone contemplating life in a different culture. A true eye-opener which helps us to examine our own ideas. 'The Last Lorry' takes us for a non-stop ride through another world." -- Joanne Marti, Information Technology Manager
"Engrossing. An engaging adventure and examination of culture, history, and the complexity of personal motivation as seen through the eyes of a fellow Mathematics teacher. A surprising look at where our best intentions can lead us." -- Marjorie M. Barreto, Mathematics Instructor
"In Last Lorry to Mbordo John Kennedy takes us to West Africa in a meeting of two cultures and two worlds. In an intense and entertaining novel the author portrays the work done by dedicated volunteers who try to bridge the gap between different cultures. Full of details, this novel shows the best (and worst) of our people across cultural, ethnic and political worlds. The reader feels transported to the town of Mbordo in the West African nation of Sakra." -- Dr. Norman Maldonado