Town. The town in which Salim settles by a bend in the great river, also lacks a name. Once home to a thriving European community, it is half-destroyed during the nationalist war for independence. Salim travels there from an unnamed country on Africa’s east coast to set up a hardware-variety store. A keen observer, he reports on the town’s condition in such a way that he integrates its ruined monuments, dilapidated villas and shops, rutted-out streets, and overgrown gardens into the overall theme of desolation.
Bush. Term widely used in Africa for open country. The bush surrounding the town is seen by Salim as encroaching on the settlement and gradually obliterating its last traces of civilization. His description of the bush, like his description of the town, is dispassionate. He does not long for the return of European civilization; he simply records its passing. To European colonists, “bush” could mean forests, deserts, jungles, or mountains and was something to be feared and conquered. For Africans during the colonial era, the bush served as a refuge from the European presence. All of Africa was originally bush, and Naipaul shows how thoroughly it consumes the faint marks that European colonialism has left behind.
Domain. Next to the town lies the Domain, which was built as a symbol of modern Africa. Intended first as an international conference center, or possibly as an agricultural showpiece, the Domain eventually became a polytechnic university and research center. Underneath its glittery appearance, however, the establishment is shoddy. Its buildings are poorly constructed and deteriorating, its flashy furniture is tawdry, its gigantic swimming pool is unusable, its grounds are neglected. When Salim first visits the Domain and enters one of the houses built for staff, he is impressed. However, he soon realizes that the place, like everything else at the bend in the river, is a mockery–nothing more than a feeble attempt to show that this African country could be European. Its failure makes it merely one more monument to desolation.