Twitter is abuzz. Today, I take a break from my usual travel stories and tips to talk about #LintonLies. A Scot named Louise Linton has written a fake memoir recounting a supposed gap year spent in the African nation of Zambia in 1999. An extract was published in the Telegraph newspaper on July 4th, 2016. Since then, Zambians and their sympathizers have been up in arms about the lies published in the memoir. Linton’s Twitter handle @LouiseLinton has been closed down.
There are many discrepancies in the memoir. Linton claims to have crawled though the jungle. But Zambia is temperate and therefore has savanna grassland but no jungles. Linton talked about monsoon season but Zambia does not experience monsoons. She claimed to have been caught up in a Hutu-Tutsi conflict from the Congo spilling into Zambia. However, the Hutu-Tutsi conflict was in 1994 in Rwanda, and it certainly never spilled into Zambia. Linton further claims to have bonded with an HIV-positive girl named Zimba. Zimba is a surname and is never used as a first name, certainly not for a girl.
Coincidentally, I read the article with a friend of mine who was visiting from Zambia. Not for the first time, I visited Zambia in 2015 on my round-the-world trip. Zambia is modernized and far from the country described in the #LintonLies. Lusaka, the capital city, has five shopping malls. Zambia is a peaceful country with friendly people. It has not had a war since the fight for independence from Britain. There are many more discrepancies but I’ll stop here.
Linton’s exaggerated memoir might be as a result of how difficult it is to publish a book. Without a previous publication (ironic) or a very compelling story, it is difficult to catch the attention of publishing agents who seem to want you to come to them with a list of potential buyers. In this age of self-publishing, however, this is no excuse. Linton tried to tarnish the image of a country that has done nothing to deserve it. Unbelievably, she appeared to do no research whatsoever to strengthen her story. How amazed is she that Zambians have internet and are calling her out on her lies. Her #LintonLies.
Sample tweets from #LintonLies are shown below.