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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye Rhodesia - a true story
"Goodbye Rhodesia" is the true story of the Mears family who spent 25 years living in the remarkable and beautiful land that was Rhodesia.

The author arrived in Southern Rhodesia in 1952, having applied to an advertisement in the Daily Herald for young people to work in government offices in Rhodesia, all expenses paid. She started life in this "Land of Kusasa...
Published on 19 Jun 2006 by J. Russell

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a struggle
I really struggled to get through this book. I was left wondering what the purpose of the book was..what was the author trying to tell us. It flits too much from one situation to the next and never really developes a theme. I gave up a third of the way through and gave it away as a gift to a person wh felt I was being unkind in my assessment of it. She contacted me weeks...
Published on 20 Jan 2008 by Turner


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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye Rhodesia - a true story, 19 Jun 2006
By 
J. Russell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
"Goodbye Rhodesia" is the true story of the Mears family who spent 25 years living in the remarkable and beautiful land that was Rhodesia.

The author arrived in Southern Rhodesia in 1952, having applied to an advertisement in the Daily Herald for young people to work in government offices in Rhodesia, all expenses paid. She started life in this "Land of Kusasa and Kabanga" (tomorrow and maybe) with other immigrants living in an abandoned RAF camp. They used the disused airstrip as a training ground for their hockey team, preferable to the football pitch which was full of termite holes!

After marrying a young tobacco farmer, her life centred on the farm and the unpredictable business of tobacco farming - tobacco was Rhodesia's biggest export in the 50's and 60's.

The Mears family grew - two daughters were born and started life in the heat and dust of the African bush, taking for granted the daily uncertainties and dangers on the isolated farm. Bush fires were common, and in the early 60's terrorists started to attack "white" farms.

After 16 years of tobacco farming, the family (+two dogs) moved 600 miles to Victoria Falls taking jobs as couriers in the rapidly expanding tourist industry there. The author writes movingly about the grandeur of the Falls:"Anyone who doesn't believe in a God, or in other worlds, or in himself, must go to Victoria Falls, because he will begin to believe in beauty, or splendour, or power or glory - something that may pass for divinity". She also writes amusingly about the problems of communicating and organising tourists from different nations: "At the sight of twenty or more haggard, mistakenly-dressed, noisy tourists sitting in the foyer writing postcards, a courier would take a deep breath and put on a big, brave smile before approaching". And there was the Yorkshireman who was put in charge of the Rain Forest, and who promptly built a dry-stone wall so he'd feel more at home!

Following a shooting incident at the Falls in which two young tourists were shot, the Falls tourist industry went into decline. Shortly afterwards, the Mears were once again on the move, this time 450 miles south to Fort Victoria where they were to take charge of an area known as the Zimbabwe Ruins and build it up into a tourist attraction. There are numerous myths and stories about the origins of the Ruins which were described as the "largest man-made construction in Africa south of the Sahara". It seems likely they were built by African tribesmen, although one of the more fanciful theories suggests that they were the lost King Solomon's Mines!

The author describes riding through the game reserve on horseback: "We saw zebra eye to eye with our horses, giraffe like trees, inquisitive kudu that merely stared, ears big, eyes pensive, and tsessebe that ran so fast with shoulders hunched. It was one of the most tremendous experiences in life."

By April 1976 the terror war had escalated. People from all walks of life were attacked indiscriminately, farmers lived in fear of being ambushed and shot. But the Mears stayed on at Zimbabwe Ruins, hopeful that more prosperous times would arrive.

Then, with the tourism industry in decline and the "war" for black independence intensifying, the Mears made their decision to say "Goodbye Rhodesia" and return to England.

Chris Mears' account of 25 years in the Rhodesian bush is written lovingly and colourfully and with great humour. She writes vividly about the animals who shared their home from time to time, such as the leguaan, similar in size and appearance to a crocodile, who took up residence in the roof: "We used to hear him dragging himself above the ceiling board in the sitting room, creating a loud slushing and sliding noise that resounded through the roof space." Other housemates included the abandoned bush-baby reared by them who developed a taste for alcohol, and the praying mantis who lived in a mosquito net over their bed.

"Goodbye Rhodesia" keeps the reader well entertained while offering an insight into a way of life that is most certainly gone forever.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm grateful that this book has been written., 23 Sep 2006
This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
I'm grateful that this book has been written because I don't think that enough books have been written which record what Rhodesia was like.

I shall have to read the book again because I was often too eager to read the next paragraph. A most enjoyable book; it shall stay in my bookcase.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goodye Rhodesia, 7 Mar 2008
This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
Chris Mears' account of what it was like to be a white economic immigrant to what was then called Rhodesia in the 1950s, is far removed from the usual colonial clichés of servants and sundowners round the pool - not least because she is a vegetarian in a country that likes a good braai. She takes us from her arrival in an abandoned RAF camp, starting as a government clerk, through marriage to tobacco farmer Martin and the hard graft of bringing up a family whilst living in a remote part of Southern Rhodesia. Their life is tough, bush fires common and money scarce but they are enchanted by life on their farm, particularly its wildlife. At one time a Nile monitor lizard lives in their roof. `The first we saw of him was a very large clawed foot appear in the gap between the rafters and wall just about half a metre above our heads. Then came the hefty shoulder, followed slowly and laboriously by a soft yellow and black spotted underbelly and a banded tail.'

The couple are impressive in their optimistic making-do attitude. They think nothing of building their own house extension from asbestos, having to brave a river flood to reach hospital when their daughter is born and eventually moving hundreds of miles in search of work. At this point the story moves from the domestic sphere as Chris undertakes a variety of jobs from local journalist, radio reporter to census enumerator and police clerk. These episodes in her life she describes engagingly, with great humour and honesty. She admits that she never questioned segregated schools, that she later had a fiction story returned because it might cause offense to black people and that when Ian Smith gave his famous speech about Rhodesia cutting itself off from Britain she `felt there was nothing I could do about the state of the nation so I might as well have the afternoon at the pictures.' But she does see both sides. For instance at the border crossing from the black North to white South she describes how, `on the one side were the black officials, slow, deliberate and stolidly officious... on the other, white officials, overheated, impatiently officious, rude to the blacks.'

Part diary, part travelogue, part round Robin, I very much enjoyed this book. Like The White Season currently running on BBC2 which looks at the white working class who feel increasingly marginalised, it's important to hear about `The White Experience' of living in Zimbabwe, especially as it helps us understand the situation in the country today. However, it is the descriptions of nature and particularly animals which have most stuck in my mind such as the moment when all the different ranks of animals wait around after the killing of a young elephant, her account ending with the words `the mother elephant continued to grieve, the evening breeze blew across the dam, and an unseen hippo bellowed his disdain of the world.' Perhaps this would also be a fitting metaphor for the sense of loss Chris Mears felt at having to move away and see that world she loved, deteriorate. It takes courage to write a book, to self publish and have your voice heard - in this case I think it is well worth the effort, even if you don't always see eye to eye with the perspective.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first class read, 31 Jan 2008
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This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
This was a most enjoyable read. A wonderful account of life in Rhodesia before it all fell apart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy of Rhodesia, 8 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. I was initially attracted by the title as we had family connections with Rhodesia so I suppose I was predisposed to give it a go. The story is of a young English couple who, in the 50's go to Rhodesia independently, meet, marry and build a life in Africa. Yes, the author, Chris Mears tells of the privileged life that the rest of the world now loves to sneer at but also the hard work, risks and danger, from being tobacco growers to tour guides at Victoria Falls and the Zimbabwe Ruins (the original archaeological ones not Mr.Mugabe's modern offering.) Being a 'townie' myself I enjoyed the descriptions of their various homes in the bundu and the animals, both welcome and not so welcome they lived with.
I liked Chris Mears, I enjoyed her chatty writing style and her gentle humour and I found her description of the escalating terrorist situation well balanced and fair, particularly her criticism of the inflexibility of the RF government. The final chapter of the book deals with the years after 1980 and majority rule, this tragic, tragic story, well known to me, is brought home once more in Chris Mears's informed and descripitve writing. If you want the feel of Rhodesia from the 50's to the end, then this is the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye Rhodesia - first class, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
what a well written account of time spent in Rhodesia. Having lived and worked there myself before all the troubles became unbearable, it was a real step down memory lane. Very factual, - I realised that a lot was going on while I lived there that we in a different district didn't get to know about. Recommend this to anyone with interests in Africa. Brilliant
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book of first hand experiences in Rhodesia, 6 Feb 2008
This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
An excellent addition to my library. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story of a real family and their personal experiences in what was to become an increasingly volatile political society.
Although I have to admit that I always enjoy biographies to fiction I am sorry that some reviewers were unable to finish Chris Mears book - I was unable to put it down until finished!
In my humble opinion this was an excellent book, easy to read and written with humour and compassion.
I would welcome a follow up book from this author who must have an untapped source of experiences.
J.Joy (UK)
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a struggle, 20 Jan 2008
This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
I really struggled to get through this book. I was left wondering what the purpose of the book was..what was the author trying to tell us. It flits too much from one situation to the next and never really developes a theme. I gave up a third of the way through and gave it away as a gift to a person wh felt I was being unkind in my assessment of it. She contacted me weeks later and said she too had given up as she just could not find a theme to the story and eventually put the book down. What a shame as I feel the author really has a story to tell...she just failed to articulate it into a readable book.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing worth 1 star only, 19 Jan 2008
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This review is from: Goodbye Rhodesia (Paperback)
I wish someone would write a really good book about their life in "Rhodesia" instead of the patronising account I have just read. The book left me feeling very hostile toward the author.
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Goodbye Rhodesia
Goodbye Rhodesia by Chris Mears (Paperback - 1 Nov 2005)
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