Born in Africa and raised on a remote gold-mine near Lake Victoria, James grew up "wild" and spoke Swahili before English. He gained a unique gaze on life, death, sadness and humour. With a family tragically affected by World War Two, and a father who died early because of his injuries, James, his sister and mother were left to the mercy of a gold mine with little use for them. His upbringing was mainly by a tribal ayah and an elderly Swahili man with pretensions beyond his station, but the soul and heart of a lion, who feared nobody, except his wife in Nubian-gin-inspired fury. James learnt to fish with home-made line and hooks, to eat insects, and, to the amusement of the watu, to abuse the European hierarchy on the mine in Swahili they did not understand. At boarding school in Arusha James befriended boys of different nations who were, in their separate ways, also outcasts or non conformers. He presented a dilemma to the teachers - a white boy with a "black spirit". His gang got up to nefarious enterprises, bringing them into a state of permanent conflict with the system. James became imbued with the history of Tanganyika, back to its time as the German Colony of Deutsch Ost Africa, which ended in 1918. The unparalleled courage and brilliance of the massively outnumbered German leader Obestleutnant Paul von Lettow Vorbeck and his schutztruppe in the bush war against the British became a beacon to James of what can be accomplished, even in the most adverse of circumstances.