A delightful book, with lots of insight into the responsibilities of a DC in the Rhodesian Native Affairs Dept and of course the many experiences of Stan and his colleagues during his 26 yrs as a very well traveled civil servant with huge areas to cover and limited resources.
An extremely good read - highly recommended especially for those who yearn for stories of the good old bad days.
by John Fox
During 25 years of postings to fifteen different parts of the country, Stan Fynes-Clinton had a unique view of life in Rhodesia. From the mid 1950’s until Independence in 1980, Stan witnessed events at ground level during the most turbulent years of the country’s history. In this easy to read page-turner of a book Stan provides fascinating glimpses into the life of a civil servant, often in very remote areas. He relates a fascinating career with duties ranging from book-keeper to magistrate, administrator to mediator during which he had encounters with eccentric characters, frightening animals and people from the most primitive villagers to the most senior government officials.
Stan describes a time from a long gone era where there were no computers, cell phones or modern forms of communication. He holds you enthralled with his description of the need to provide portable lavatories when dignitaries’ were visiting and touring. Not only did the flag and flag pole have to be moved from location to location, but also the ‘thunder box’ and toilet roll. Stan describes how convicts were given day passes from prison to be golf caddies and not only did they never try and escape, they also considered it a great privilege.
Given the name Karize kasinganeti (the scorpion that doesn’t tire) by local Africans, Stan describes how he made a point of learning about African customs, traditions and beliefs. He made a point of walking and cycling to all areas within his district, covering many hundreds of kilometres, meeting thousands of villagers and sleeping out in the bush. Travelling with his assistant, Stan’s description of the end of the day leaves you with a tantalizing image of another life time:
“Tom and I would then settle down in our sleeping bags and, as I gazed upward into the star studded night sky, I might hear Tom’s gentle snoring. A day’s work was well done and another moment in my life had been shared with the gentle, hospitable people who had welcomed me into their domain and left us to sleep soundly, peacefully, unafraid.”
A vibrant, vivid, easy read with an ending describing calamitous losses endured with dignity.
by Cathy Buckle