Dennis Hubbard was a naïve 21 year old when he arrived at a small mining town called Broken Hill in tropical Northern Rhodesia, where he spent the next two years. They were to become the greatest and most formative of his life. Together with his best friend Fred, he became involved in expeditions deep into the African bush, first on pedal cycles and then in a 1946 Flying Standard motor car. They paddled a kayak on the lake adjacent to Mulungushi Dam, where they had first-hand encounters with the dangerous native wildlife – such as crocodiles and hippos – and many other near altercations with elephants, buffalo and baboons. Dennis and Fred were recruited to the local Police Reserve and Dennis was shocked to see the segregation and discrimination that existed at the time. He befriended some local Africans, contrary to firm advice from many other white people in Broken Hill.
Eventually, Dennis became truly absorbed into the colonial way of life just as the sun was setting on the British Empire. He used his rifle several times and became very familiar with the seemingly endless and beautiful savannah lands that surrounded Broken Hill. Towards the end of his stay in Africa, there was a heated romance with great tragedy in store for both Dennis and Fred, the horrendous circumstances of which will have the reader asking whether this is really a true story – unfortunately, it certainly is. Dennis was initially reluctant to share his story, and has so far kept this desperately tragic end of his stay in Africa a deep, dark secret... Until now.
The Tragic Romance of Africa is a compelling combination of travel writing and memoir that also gives a unique and rare insight into a snapshot of Africa’s history. It’s a book that at times reads like a novel due to its hard-to-believe content, and an account that is often hilarious, occasionally touching, sometimes moving but ultimately harrowing, set in a bygone age of colonialism, racism, exploitation and adventure.
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