Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Beautifully written and very entertaining
on 26 June 2017
Not often am I so miserable when I finish a book, but this was one such book...
Beautifully written, this is the unusual story of white boy growing up in a remote mining settlement in rural Tanganyika (Tanzania since 1964) in the 1950s and early 60s. Ill fortune struck the family at an early stage and Jimu is reared as much by his kindly Swahili-speaking servants as he is by his family.
Few can boast such an insight into the ways and minds of both Africans and Mazungu (whites) in the 1950s; a time very different from now. White society was still 'polite' society, not so far removed from the prudish Edwardians. On the other hand Swahili-speaking African culture was much more honest, expressive and open in their description of people their physical attributes and bodily functions. A very small minority of reviewers have missed the point and rated this down for that reason. Taken as what was intended; a description of a childhood and early teens growing up among and at times even trying to bridge the gap between two groups of interdependent people, separated by colour and culture, it forms a wonderfully entertaining book and an historically valuable document.
Leaving aside the serious elements, this book describes beautifully the trials and pleasures in growing up in a remote location in rural East Africa with no TV, news and only Radio Congo. Lions, Fisi (hyenas) and snakes are daily hazards and the small group of children entertained themselves with games, books, comics and a wide range of other amusements and pranks shared with some of the native children. Then came the serious business of travel, boarding school and how best to avoid it.
This is genuinely a very fine book with some very emotional moments that was very hard to put down. If you like travel and honest biography, you will probably enjoy this book too.
Now I have finished it, I'm waiting anxiously for James Penhaligon to complete the sequel.