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Drums on the Night Air
 
 

Drums on the Night Air [Kindle Edition]

Veronica Cecil
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Book Description

The powerful and moving account of one woman's flight from Africa's heart of darkness

Product Description

Veronica Cecil was twenty-five years old when her husband was offered a job at a large multi-national company in the Congo. Filled with enthusiasm for their new life, the couple and their eleven-month-old son set off for an African adventure.

Very soon, however, Veronica began to realise that life in the Congo was not what she had imagined. Food shortages were an everyday occurrence; she felt like an outsider at the club in Léopoldville, which only the Belgians and other expats frequented; and flickers of violence were starting to erupt everywhere.

Six months later Veronica and her family were sent to Elizabetha, a remote palm oil plantation on the banks of the Congo River. But even here paradise didn’t last. Civil war broke out, and the rebels captured the neighbouring town of Stanleyville and took all the whites hostage. Despite the fact that Veronica was on the verge of giving birth, the situation was so dangerous that she and her toddler had to be evacuated. Leaving her husband and all their possessions behind, she and her son began on a two-day journey through the jungle. But on the plane back to Leopoldville, the first labour pains began...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1849016410
  • Publisher: Constable (22 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057GESFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #141,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I'm an erstwhile actor - the itch never really goes - a writer of plays, television, radio, theatre, even one film. I'm also a broadcaster. In fact I've played the field. 'Drums on the Night Air', which started it's life in South Africa under the title 'Bongo, Bongo, Bongo I don't wanna to leave the Congo' is my first book. I am so hooked on the whole process that I have almost finished another. I've always loved literature and, despite a touch of dyslexia, take a huge pleasure in writing - I love the jokes, the unexpected discoveries and the exhilaration of creating another world. In my real life I am a widow, a mother of four - one son, Charles and three daughters, Jessica, Lizzie and Antonia, and a grandmother of nine. I am unashamedly proud and delight in them all.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. It tells of the wife of an expat living in the Belgian Congo in the 1960's when there was a great deal of disruption due to the de-colonisation of the country from Belgian.The author has also had experience of living in countries facing upheaval at this time, namely South Africa and what is now Zimbabwe.It moves along well,and relates the arragance that expats from whatever country had towards the indigeneous population of particular countries in this case The Congo.
Veronica Cecil writes with real enthusiasm, and her description of delaying child birth,as a man is quite moving.
I would thoroughly recommend this book as light and entertaining read, but which nonetheless gets a message across about European attitudes towards their colonies,and their attitude towards the coloured population.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an enthralling read 28 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I opened this book and started reading I had another two books already on the go. I'd heard good things and figured I'd read a page or two here and there and gradually take it in. Two days later I'd finished. Drums on the Night Air flows like a hollywood movie, but you have to keep reminding yourself that the story is true. It is therefore not just a page turner, but one which delivers a fascinating insight into events of the time and which resonates in many ways with the contemporary world. Not just an entertaining work, but one of real importance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart of Darkness still beats 27 Dec 2012
By Noel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Veronica Cecil was born in pre-independence India and in 1948 aged 10, relocated with her parents to Rhodesia. She then moved on to London as a young adult, married and moved with her husband and infant son to the Congo. Her husband, a chartered accountant transferred in the early 1960's from London to the Leopoldsville (now Kinshasa) Office of his employer, a palm oil business (think palm olive). Next move was to a remote palm oil plantation called Elizabetha near Stanleyville(now Kisangani).

As the place names indicate this is a story from a different time, though then as now Congo was living up to its 'Heart of Darkness' label. It is post independence Congo after the overthrow and execution of Lumumbu, the first elected Prime Minister of independent Congo. Mineral-rich Katanga has fought a separatist war but Mobutu has not yet come to power. Congo is unstable and simmering with civil war. The 20 something Cecil's arrive in this melting pot and merge somewhat uncomfortably into the predominantly Belgian hierarchical ex-pat community. So the scene is set.

They endure their time in Leopoldsville but eventually her husband's pressure for a move secures a transfer to Elizabetha plantation, in the north near Stanleyville. They are not long established there until the rebel 'Simba' army overthrows government forces in Stanleyville and war rapidly advances across the bush towards their plantation. By now Veronica is 9 months pregnant with her second child, on the brink of giving birth, but there is no alternative but evacuation from Elizabetha. Thus begins the hazardous and arduous escape of women and children to the relative safety of Leopoldsville.

Veronica Cecil describes the atmosphere in Congo most vividly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transported me to 1960s Congo 31 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was so well written and enjoyable. I felt as though I was transported back in time to the Congo in the 1960's, and I was plunked down into the shoes of a 1960s company wife. The author is very good at describing how she felt and perceived everything when she was in her 20's, especially the roles of wives and their relationships with men in those days. I particulary liked the descriptions of life in the jungle town, where I felt that I could see and smell everything the author did. She also relates her ambiguous feelings about the black/white relationships at the time and is careful to include her own shortcomings. Wonderful escapism, and I held my breath during the evacuations from the jungle.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an experience! 23 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinarily sensitive and perceptive account of what must have been terrfying experiences in the post independence period in the Congo. It is graphic and accurate in terms of time,geography and politics both local andinternational. It recounts periods of chilling fear and suspense yet reads easily thanks to the fluent writing. An absolute must for anyone with an interest either in Africa or in the will to survive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read 30 May 2014
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
In the early 1960s, 25 year old Veronica Cecil accompanies her husband to the Congo where he has been offered a good job with a multi-national company. Born in India during the Raj, and having lived in apartheid Rhodesia, Cecil is no stranger to racial tensions, but is nevertheless initially enthusiastic about her new life. But by the time the couple and their baby son arrive, the Congo is descending into chaos after the assassination of Lumumba, and it is not long before a brutal civil war breaks out and the family have to flee from the advancing Congolese rebel forces.
Veronica Cecil has described the Congo as “hot, claustrophobic, lawless, disturbing and beautiful”, and she conveys all these aspects in this compelling, often harrowing, memoir. Fully in command of her subject, Cecil writes with considerable mastery, never descending into melodrama however dramatic the events which she describes. I found this a powerful and absorbing read and recommend it wholeheartedly.
The book was originally published in South Africa with the title Bongo Bongo Bongo I Don’t Wanna Leave the Congo, which derives from a song originally performed by the Andrews Sisters with Danny Kaye, and which Cecil uses ironically, playing on the West’s clichéd view of life in the jungle. I suspect that few readers would understand the reference and the publishers have wisely changed the title in the UK to Drums on the Night Air: a Woman’s flight from Africa’s Heart of Darkness, a title which is far more representative of the subject matter.
This is a book which ranks alongside other such 'Heart of Darkness' books as The Poisonwood Bible and Tim Butcher’s Blood River, and will prove invaluable to anyone wishing to understand more about the situation in the Congo today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A very personal account of the chaos of decolonisation
This book describes a world that no longer exists although it's only about 50 years ago. The European colonial powers were pulling out of Africa, willingly or unwillingly, as the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Derek Ian Elder
4.0 out of 5 stars A true story well written
I really enjoyed this book having worked in Malawi and then in Seira Leon I felt some empathy with the author although her time in the Congo was 20 years before my Africa... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sue Gilbertson
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight into the expat lifestyle
I bought this book at the beginning of the year, as part of the 12 Days of Kindle campaign, but for some reason, put off reading until now. Read more
Published on 24 Mar 2012 by Miss J. M. Austin
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw courage - better than any thriller.
Veronica Cecil's true life account of life in the Congo during the mid 1960s is as gripping as a thriller. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by Ian Mathie
5.0 out of 5 stars An innocent abroad.
Victoria Cecil, while not writing a novel, has re-created her innocent self to voice this recount. This helps the reader to gain a fantastic insight into the hopeful naivety of the... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by S. Hartley
5.0 out of 5 stars A great summer read...
A very light but interesting read that guides you through an amazing life story. The end leaves you wishing for more. Strongly recommend it!
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by Alexandra Pica Marques
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