Christina Lamb is a prolific writer who at age 21 completed at Oxford University a degree in politics, philosophy and economics and moved to the frontier town of Peshawar to report on the war in Afghanistan. Since then she has been a foreign correspondent mainly living in Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa. In 2006 she was the runner up in the prestigious Martha Gellhorn prize for her despatches from Zimbabawe.
She is just one of three foreign journalists to have been named as an enemy of the state of Zimbabawe and liable to two year’s imprisonment if she is found there!
In this book Lamb tells the true story of white farmer Nigel Hough and his black servant Aqui both before and after Robert Mugabae took power in Zimbabawe in 1980. One is rich, the other poor, one white, the other black, one the master, the other the maid! Born in the same year, their experience in growing up in a land blessed with sunshine and rich land yet plagued by divisive politics and bloodshed could not have been more different. While Nigel played cricket for his country and piloted his own plane under the Victoria Falls Bridge. Aqui grew up in a mud and pole hut sleeping on the floor where the food was cooked with her four brothers and sisters and had to walk an hour each way to fetch water.
Their stories are told in the form of interviews with Nigel and Aqui and presented in alternating chapters, their words presented in italics and then merged with the flow of Lamb’s own words this as a technique have the weakness of meaning that often the voice we are hearing is that of Lamb and not the person whose story it is ascribed to.
The book is well illustrated and is a useful starting point for those just wanting a overview of the Zimbabawe situation.