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Excerpt from 'Speak Swahili, Dammit!'


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Initial post: 28 Aug 2012 10:27:40 BDT
Higginson kicked his motorbike starter, the engine roared, and he sat down unsteadily on the seat. Where was his drinking partner? Why was he taking so much time. Then he felt him sit behind him. He released the clutch, opened the throttle, and the big Harley Davidson wove it's uneven way up the dirt road, its headlight casting a cone of bright wavering light on the bushes and trees of the Tanzanian Bush. Now his passenger was hurting him, digging his fingernails into his shoulders, like someone in a panic.

'Stop it!' shouted Higginson. To no avail, for the violence of his passenger increased. In agony, Higginson lost control, & the heavy bike plunged off the road into a thicket. He found himself lying on a bed of plants, and, being very drunk, he fell asleep. In the morning he awoke to searing sunshine and worse pain. His shirt was torn and his back multiply lacerated on both sides, from top to bottom. He struggled to his feet and found his motorbike, which was held in a clump of acacia trees. The petrol tank was deeply dented. In one place it was punctured, and from the hole protruded a single claw-nail. It wasn't his friend who hitched a lift last night. It was a full-grown leopard.

FROM; 'Speak Swahili, Dammit!' by James Penhaligon.

I wrote this true book about my first fifteen years, growing up deep in the bush of northwestern Tanganyika, later Tanzania, because it was the most incredible, amazing, tragic, hilarious and chaotic life-experience any child, anywhere, could have had. As the child of Cornish parents who worked on an old gold mine, I was brought up almost completely by an African Ayah and her husband, who became central and irreplaceable figures in my life. I spoke Swahili before English, and learnt to live the bush life African-style, without the hypocrisy of British 'manners', respect for European elders, nor any of the behaviour other white people referred to as 'civilised'. I would eventually find myself painfully torn between two cultures. With my African friends, I was one of them. With the Europeans, I was a white boy who cared too much about blacks.

This book has received wide acclaim. There are many excellent press/international reviews on the website for Speak SwahiliDammit. At time of posting this, there are ninety one 5-star reviews (& two with 4) between Amazon books UK Amazon Books USA. On 12th February 2012 the book went to No 1 on Non-fiction in Amazon Free Kindle books (KDP program), & also No 1 for Biography & Memoirs, & for Historical Biography. In the USA it did similarly, reaching No 1 in the 'Tanzania' category. There is an 11 minute promotional video on youtube, under the book title. The book is available as a hardback, & as a Kindle download on Amazon Books.
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Discussion in:  James Penhaligon forum
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Initial post:  28 Aug 2012
Latest post:  28 Aug 2012

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