National Geographic : 1989 Sep
On Assignment MYSTERIOUS but willing subject-intrigued by the photographer's rental car-posed for ELI REED'S camera in the African village of Kalongo near Salima, Malawi. "I came across the man and other dancers dressed for a fes tival," said Reed. "With no invitation, they just took over the car. But they wouldn't say a word." Reed had a more alarming encounter when his camera was mistaken for a gun by people living near Malawi's border with Mozambique, a country wrenched by civil war. Reed could sympathize. He himself has ducked bullets in El Salva dor and been abducted while working in Lebanon. "But I'm more a documenter of society than a combat photog rapher," says Reed, winner of an Overseas Press Club award in 1983. His color images are featured in his most recent book, Beirut, City of Regrets, published by W. W. Norton in 1988. Black-and-white pictures showing the effects of poverty on American children illustrate a National Council of Churches television documentary released this year. Reed found his calling at the age of ten, photographing his mother beside the Christmas tree in their Perth Amboy, New Jersey, home. After art school he pushed himself through a five-year regimen that allowed little sleep: photographer by day, hospital orderly by night. Few in his boyhood neighbor hood would now tangle with Reed, an imposing six feet two. But this student of aikido and judo also writes poetry. PHOTOGRAPHSBY KENNETHFRED WHANGO(ABOVE) ANDELI REED For novelist and travel writer PAUL THEROUX, going to Malawi for his third NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article was a sort of homecoming. In Lilongwe he visits with a traditional doctor (above), one of many who still practice their art in the capital city's central market. Born in Massachusetts, Ther oux served for two years in the Peace Corps in Malawi, wit nessing the birth of that nation in 1964. In those days, he re calls, the Peace Corps did little more than "train us brilliantly and send us into the bush. It was not a bad way of running things." Theroux's 26 books include Riding the Iron Rooster, which was based on journeys he took by train-his preferred mode of travel-for his March 1988 arti cle, "China Passage." His latest novel, My Secret History, was published in June. When not on the road, he divides his time between Lon don and Cape Cod. "My idea of hell is having to stay in one place for a long time," says Theroux. "My idea of a holi day is going home." NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC (ISSN0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLY BY THENATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W ., WASHINGTON, D. C. 20036. $21.00 A YEAR,$2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASSPOSTAGEPAID ATWASHINGTON,D. C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SEND ADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P. 0O. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.