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Bride Price Paperback – 1 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mosaïque Press (1 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906852081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906852085
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,106,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A wonderfully evocative account of a lost time in Africa before political, genocidal maelstroms reframed the way the continent is perceived. Writing with great sensitivity and authenticity, Mathie enriches our understanding not just of the people but of the human spirit that thrives there." - Tim Butcher, author of Blood River and Chasing the Devil. This inherently gripping story is made more so through Mathie's masterful writing. His remarkable skill for conveying the essence of characters further enhances the tale. In my opinion, this book should be required reading in all high schools. - Goodreads Brilliant! I loved it from start to finish. - Newbooks In terms of its overall flavour, quality and impact value, I'd bracket it with the classic 'Walkabout' by James Vance Marshall. - The Bookbag Insightful... thought-provoking... an incredible world far removed from anything most of us will have experienced. - The Leamington Courier

About the Author

Ian Mathie spent his childhood in Africa and returned there, after school and a short service commission in the RAF, as a rural development officer working for the British government and several other agencies. His work in water resources and related projects during the 1970s brought him into close contact with the African people, their cultures and varied tribal customs, many of which are now all but lost. These experiences, recorded in his notebooks, were the inspiration for a series of African memoirs, of which Bride Price is the first volume. Ian continued to visit Africa until health considerations curtailed his travelling. He now lives in south Warwickshire with his wife and dog.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne White on 11 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
February 10, 2014
By Suzanne White "SuzanneWhite.com" (USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bride Price (Kindle Edition)

It's like in days gone by. Only the "Days Gone By" are not that long gone. This is Zaire (later the Republic of Congo) in the 1970's. The young, white British Ian Mathie (27 at the time) returns to the land of his birth. Mathie is a white African. Born and bred in Africa and then sent, of course, to England to school where he resumed life as an Englishman. After his studies, Mathie knew about water engineering and so was sent back to Africa by his employers to teach villagers how to filter spring water and make it clean to drink. He sets up housekeeping in a village. And then the fun begins. Ceremonies of initiation. An adopted orphan daughter. Learning the language of the people as well as the impenetrable language of the unspeakably dense forest everywhere around him. An evil, powerful old man barges into his life and demands his 13 year old daughter in marriage. Custom dictates Mathie set a price on the bride. The evil man is rich, arrogant and ruthless. Never will Mathie give his daughter to this malevolent person. But by tradition he is bound to come up with a suitable price. How he works it all out is a treat to read. The writing is sensitive yet tough - just like the guy who wrote it, I assume. No slouch. Read this book. And then get Mathie's other African memoirs. They are all spectacular make gripping, entertaining and informative reading. Suzanne White 2014.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Belinda on 13 May 2013
Format: Paperback
Africa is a huge and densely populated continent. While it's known as the "oldest inhabited territory on Earth," most Westerners might think of it as merely a faraway land posing a high risk to international travelers. In most instances, that is probably so--Africa has had it's fair share of drought, disease, famine, corruption, military dictatorships and wars. But when it comes to rich fauna and flora, diverse tribal cultures and languages, exquisite landscapes and mysterious beliefs, Africa is paradise.

As someone who grew up in South Africa, I'm sad that I've only touched lightly on all this magic since the potential to engage with the heart of my country was screwed up by the sociopolitical climate of the time. That's why I'm so thankful for writers like Ian Mathie. In his memoir, Bride Price, the author transports his readers to an enigmatic part of Africa--Zaire, now the Democratic (irony, real not literary) Republic of the Congo--to learn more about a bygone era. At the high risk of ancestral customs being forgotten, this book is a valuable contribution to African history.

Mathie's story is nail-bitingly compelling and his writing is superb. Although you never doubt how the author feels about himself and his involvement in this saga, he allows the focus to fall on the rich cast of characters and the bizarre events that shape his narrative, thus making his book a true altruistic work of art about people who deserve to be remember for their unique perspective on life. Whether you're interested in Africa or have a taste for the exotic, this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Lippincott, Chilehead Adventurer on 9 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
In many ways Ian Mathie's experiences in his memoir Bride Price reminds me of Indiana Jones, although there is no treasure involved. When Mathie opted to live in a remote jungle village in Zaire during the 1970s, he did so for the convenience of living on site as he taught the villagers to build filtered wells to ensure a supply of safe drinking water. His facility for picking up the language, thinking on the fly, and quickly adopting native customs served him well. They may also have led to the horrifying adventure he became involved in.

After a complex string of events, Mathie becomes the foster father for Abélé, a homeless girl who has returned to the village under conditions making it impossible for other families to take her in. She flowers under his guidance, and all seems well until the day Kuloni Nkese, an evil Party official from a nearby region arrives and demanding that Mathie set a bride price for Abélé, thinking himself crafty by invoking tribal tradition for the process. Mathie recognizes the danger and immediately seeks counsel from wise community leaders, but it's up to him to make a final decision that will deter Nkese and protect Abélé.

He knows that setting a price in money isn't the answer. Nkese will steal the money, and Mathie will lose respect for accepting it. He must and does set a bride price this dangerous fiend will not agree to pay, and I don't think you'll be surprised to learn that Abélé is kept safe from harm. The story does not end with the resolution of the bride price challenge. Several more factors come to light before the situation is fully resolved.

This inherently gripping story is made more so through Mathie's masterful writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rosanne Dingli on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This book tells the reader who has never been to Africa - who has no personal experience of Zaire, or its people, or its history - a great deal. It is a simple story, but constructed with a host of fascinating and complex ingredients, least of which not being the location, with its smells, movement, and noises; its strange fauna, and fast growing and swiftly encroaching flora. Its vibrant people, with all their human strengths and foibles. It takes the reader there, unaware that the simple story is intensively potent, and full of the potential to impress itself indelibly on the memory.
Readers have two memory caches, it seems: one for ordinary life and procedures, another for what is read, ingested through the narratives of others. There are rich and vibrant places to visit, fascinating people to know, and valuable life lessons to learn. There are such complex life stories and histories of places to witness, far away from the bland and predictable suburbs of the world's cities. How little we know of the real world.
This is narrative non-fiction at its best: personal experience told in a self-effacing way, a way that brings to life a Zaire during President Mobutu's reign. A Zaire whose village life thrums with vibrant, colourful and very meaningful life: rituals, usage and customs to be marvelled at for their logical simplicity, for their human complexity.
This is narrative non-fiction that tells us much more about the author than he probably would like revealed, but it is manifest in each line: such sensitivity. Such capacity to take on - without fear, without concept of threat to his own customs, language, usage, or personal habituation - the entire character of a village and become one of its best loved and most respected members.
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