Gosh darn it, sometimes that coveted gap yah volunteering abroad opportunity you’ve been excitedly talking about since you finished school has to be ruined by a civil war.
Can’t people fight when you’re not there?
That’s exactly what happened to California-based Louise “Angel Hair” Linton, who travelled to Zambia in 1999 at the impressionable age of 18, and wrote about her experiences in The Telegraph recently.
Linton had gone to Africa to help “some of the world’s poorest people” when she became, in her own words, the “central character” to the horror story of the nearby Congolese civil war.
As the night ticked interminably by, I tried not to think what the rebels would do to the 'skinny white muzungu with long angel hair’ if they found me. Clenching my jaw to stop my teeth chattering, I squeezed my eyes shut and reminded myself how I’d come to be a central character in this horror story.
My innocent dreams of teaching the villagers English or educating them about the world now seemed ridiculously naïve. With a cheery smile, I’d waved goodbye to Dad and jumped on a plane to Africa without researching anything about its tumultuous political history or realising that my destination – Lake Tanganyika - was just miles from war-torn Congo.
Life was idyllic at first, a gap year student’s dream... But I soon learned that Africa is rife with hidden danger. I witnessed random acts of violence, contracted malaria and had close encounters with lions, elephants, crocodiles and snakes.
Zambians aren't happy with her account of what life was like there in 1999.
There appears to be more than a few holes in Linton's story.
Like the Hutu-Tutsi war - which was in Rwanda.
Amazon reviewers have slated her memoir, "In Congo's Shadow", which is the basis for the Telegraph's extract.
Actually, she seems familiar to someone indy100 has encountered before...
Who needs a formal education to teach in Africa? Not me! All I need is some chalk and a dose of optimism. It's so sad that they don't have enough trained teachers here. I'm not trained either, but I'm from the West, so it all works out. Good morning, class!!
Linton did apologise, saying on Twitter that she didn't intend to offend anyone.
And arguably the most serious offence wasn't actually committed by Linton.
A little girl Linton claims to have made friends with, Zimba, is not only underage, but supposedly suffers from HIV - and so her picture shouldn't be featured in a news publication at all.
Zimba apparently begged Linton to stay, but she got on a plane to escape the rebels anyway. No mention is made of what becomes of Zimba.