The best advice one can give to a young person thinking of going to university is ‘read for a degree in a subject that you enjoy learning about’. Similarly I have often heard and read advice to those thinking of writing a book, ‘write about something you have knowledge of and have an interest in’. So here I am in my office, writing the second scene in chapter two of my fourth novel amongst Bougainvillea, Frangipani and borders of bright orange Canna Lilly. The hotel swimming pool has a slightly off-putting greenish tinge to the otherwise clear water and the tea is served with UTH milk. Above, the sky is an unbroken blue canopy and in the windy city of Lusaka, the breeze keeps the temperature, in late July, to a comfortable level.
My characters in this scene are on the run and had, until this moment, thought they had evaded their pursuers. Soon they must run again, going south down a road I have travelled many times in the past, to the border where one of Africa’s mightiest rivers flows. I must now choose whether they divert and follow the direction that David Livingston took towards the magnificent Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls or continue along the route down which Cecil Rhodes ambitions came.
Today is the perfect day for my rememberings, with the sun shining from a beautiful blue sky, a lily plant outside of my office in full bloom, and the Acer tree nearby looking vaguely like the Acacias I used to admire around Kafue township. I am reminded of half forgotten scents and colours, the red dust from the murram clay of the road’s hard shoulders and the smell of Mopane wood burning on the village fires. Above all, when I close my eyes, I recall that feeling of insignificance amongst such a vast landscape, mixed with the thrill of the sights and sounds of the African savannah.
I think I am going to enjoy this.