The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream Hardcover – 24 Jun 1999
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On Good Friday in 1914, a young British Army officer named Stewart Gore-Browne first glimpsed a lake in what was then Northern Rhodesia that the local Bemba tribe called Shiwa Ngandu ("Lake of the Royal Crocodiles"). At that moment, a love affair began which would last his lifetime, as the enraptured Gore-Browne set about creating a very British idyll in the African bush, complete with redbrick house and a terrace on which uniformed staff would serve champagne and cocktails. This is the complicated story of a man, his colonial vision, and the burden it became, set against the country in which he battles to realise it.
Christina Lamb has assembled the story from the mass of diaries and correspondence that lay within the now crumbling and neglected house. It is an extraordinary tale that leaps off the page with the grace of a springbok. Gore-Browne initially appears an extinct species, all Harrovian vowels, and prone to pepper with lead shot anything that moves. He is, however, infused with a liberal, humane streak that leads him in later life to support Kenneth Kaunda and the UNIP in their fight for power. Indeed, Kaunda said of him, "... he [Gore-Browne] was born an English gentleman, and died a Zambian gentleman".
Gore-Browne's personal life progressed from an unrequited love to a dramatic marriage, while still indulging in a formidably passionate correspondence with a favourite aunt. There are times when you wish for a timely swipe of the novelist's pen, but it is the nature of this beast that questions remain unanswered; what holds this engrossing chronicle in place is the Africa House itself, and the lives that unfold in and around it, perched incongruously as it is in a country that has outgrown it. --David Vincent --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Christina Lamb is an award-winning journalist who, since graduating from Oxford twelve years ago, has lived overseas as a correspondent for the Financial Times in Pakistan and Brazil, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and correspondent for the Sunday Times in South Africa. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, she is an inveterate traveller. Her previous book, Waiting for Allah: Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy, was published by Hamish Hamilton and Penguin. She is currently Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Sunday Times and lives with her husband and young son in London and Portugal. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Africa House" is the biography of Stewart Gore-Browne, an Army officer of good family who settles in a remote part of Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) after the First World War with the intention of creating a great country estate. He builds an enormous house, fills it with imported furniture, art, books and wine, and employs as many as 1,000 local people to keep the place going. Although he tries a number of business ventures on the property, such as distilling tropical oils used in perfume, his grand scheme mostly loses money, yet he remains steadfastly devoted to it until his death in 1967.
Dressing for dinner every night, wearing a monocle, occasionally beating his servants, playing "La Bohème" on the gramophone, raising and lowering the Union Jack every day, Gore-Browne is outwardly the very image of a high colonial official. Yet the reality is that he mostly detests colonial officialdom, and has a high respect for Africans, and they for him. One of his acquaintances is the young Kenneth Kaunda, who later becomes Zambia's first President. He is disappointed not to be invited into Kaunda's government after the transition to black rule, but remains Kaunda's friend and informal adviser until his death, when Kaunda gives him a state funeral.
Gore-Browne's personal life is another interesting theme of the story.Read more ›
A life of politics, farming, and entertaining foreign and domestic dignitaries, he made an impact on Copperbelt politics, and was disappointed he was too old to assist in Kenneth Kaunda's new goverment. He is the only white man to have received a full Bemba funeral, attended by Kenneth Kaunda, ex-president of Zambia. He was truly an unique and incredible man. Christina Lamb presents a believable portrayal of an English eccentric, who realised his dream,and built an English mansion in the African bush, for his favourite Aunt. A great read, and the political and cultural context is blended well with the life story of Gore-Brown.
Throw into the mix the strange relationship Gore enjoyed with his aunt, who he wrote to everyday of her life, and had actually built the house with her in mind. In his mind he had hoped she would give up her estate in England and come and live with him. His marriage (which ended in divorce) to the (very much younger) orphaned daughter of his first love. Two daughters and a lifelong faithful servant/ chauffeur Henry. This book paints a vivid picture of Zambia’s fight for independence and the descriptions of Africa at the turn of the century and is very enjoyable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating account of the life and endeavors of a singular product of the times he lived in.Published 1 month ago by Charles R.W.Powell
I Couldn't keep this book down...True and Poignant at the same time,
What a character...
Haven't started reading it properly but have scanned it, It is looking good .JWPublished 4 months ago by Brigadier Johnny Walker
A wonderful story of an English gentleman who built a fabulous mansion in the wilds of Northern Rhodesia employing at one time up to a thousand local natives plus supporting... Read morePublished 5 months ago by A.E.Betteridge
A wonderful book.
Couldn't put it down.
Am about to read it again.