This is the story of Southern Rhodesia, from a time of its earliest known inhabitants, the Bushmen, to their displacement by the Bantu; the invasion by the Matabele under King Mzilikaze; the advent of the white missionaries; and the arrival of Cecil Rhodes and his Pioneer Column of early settlers, up to the time of independence in 1980. This is the romantic land of the high veld; of teeming game; of the great river Zambezi and the mighty Victoria Falls, and of enormous mineral wealth.
This was the country that Robert Mugabe-its future leader-referred to as ‘the jewel of Africa’. And yet in this land of plenty, tensions in the mid-twentieth century were mounting between its black inhabitants and the whites, including those of British and Afrikaner stock: tensions which would one day boil over into a civil war in which Southern Rhodesia’s neighbours would also become involved.
The author has first-hand knowledge of the country, having arrived there with his parents in 1956. He describes what it was like to arrive in a British colony, in the last decades of the colonial era; the wonders of Wankie Game Reserve (now Hwange National Park); a schoolboy expedition to the Eastern Districts in search of the elusive ‘stone door ruin’; and a personal friendship which developed between himself and his family’s black servant Timot, at a time of racial segregation.