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June 21, 2018
A Ladies’ Night
In Search of
an African Utopia
In the Spring of 2012, reporter and travel junkie Justin Chapman threw his cares to the wind and, by himself, set off on an epic three-month journey across eight countries in Africa—from Cape Town, South Africa, to Mityana, Uganda—by bus, train, and boat.
Along the way, he narrowly escaped being locked away in a mental institution, visited an impoverished township that was changing its future with the help of an art-based nonprofit, got into a life-threatening car crash, dropped acid on the mystical island of Zanzibar, lived with a group of Catholic priests, witnessed a witchcraft healing ceremony, discovered a pygmy opium den, and chased down riveting stories with a local journalist.
He crossed cultural boundaries, found love and companionship in unusual places, and stared death—with all its visceral stench and gore—directly in the eyeballs.
Upon his return, Chapman wrote about his experiences in his book, Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, which was published by Rare Bird Books in 2015.
Saturnalia is an engrossing cultural anthropological treatise like none other. By embarking on a journey of self-discovery and survival, Chapman explores what Africa really has to offer, and in the process, discovers surprising and unexpected relationships between people and places.
Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh said about Saturnalia: “The best and most arresting travel books are the ones that also take us on the author’s inner journey. Justin Chapman’s memoir is a perfect metaphor for contemporary American youth, painfully trying to work through its own baggage, and openly and sincerely seeking to engage with the world beyond the USA’s established physical and cultural borders. Don’t miss this one.”
Justin Chapman is the Communications Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy. He is an author, journalist, travel writer, actor, poet, musician, and politician.
Justin was the youngest elected member of the Altadena Town Council at age 19. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master'ʹs degree in Public Diplomacy at USC. He has written for over 20 print and digital publications, frequently for the Pasadena Weekly. His book about his travels through Africa, Saturnalia:
Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, was published by Rare Bird Books in January 2015. He also serves as president of Men Educating Men About Health and as secretary of the West Pasadena Residents'ʹ Association. Previous memberships include the United Nations Association Pasadena chapter's Communications Committee, the LA Press Club, the LA World Affairs Council, and the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills chapter, where he also served as secretary of the board. He served as a commissioner on the city of Pasadena’s Northwest Commission from 2015-16. As a professional child actor, he performed in dozens of commercials, television shows, and movies.