Troubador Appointment in Zambia

Released: 20/08/2012

ISBN: 9781780882383

Format: Paperback

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Appointment in Zambia

A Trans-African Adventure


‘We could always go overland now that we have wheels,’ Ross had suggested out of the blue. I’d pulled out an atlas and we’d traced a route down through Africa via countries still marked with their colonial names. Only two strips of water interrupted the flow of land between Edinburgh and Chingola; the English Channel and the Straits of Gibraltar. Fourteen months had passed since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon so Africa couldn’t be that difficult, could it? A month later we boarded the ferry for Calais...

In 1970 newly-weds Ross and Sara set off, with extraordinary naivety and a lack of proper preparation, to drive from Edinburgh to Zambia in a standard saloon car. Appointment in Zambia is the story of their epic car journey. Sara was 21 (and could not drive) and Ross was 23 when they and their brand new Hillman Hunter (in ‘Golden Sand’, a colour chosen before they’d opted to drive through the Sahara...) started out. For eight weeks, in a trip of over 20 000 kms, they slept in the car, coped with illness and looked up the barrel of rifles from the wrong end. Apart from the car their only technology was a compass.

Their journey encompassed the Sahara, where they had to dig themselves out of trouble with Tupperware containers. They also braved war-torn Biafra, navigated storm-wrecked roads through equatorial forests and traversed the main tributary of the Congo River (on a raft cobbled together with dug-out canoes by locals). They met lepers, pygmies, drunken officials, prostitutes and missionaries while their journey took them across 13 countries with widely different frontiers, customs, currencies and language before they reached Chingola – just in time for Ross to start his new job.

Appointment in Zambia is a unique take on an epic journey – a young couple and their basic car travel acrosss Africa, not because they want to challenge themselves and prove something, but because they decide it’s the best way to get to a new job in Zambia.

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Fab After Fifty

This is as good as that wonderful book, 'The Sand Pebbles', which was made into a film. I got to know and love the car Sara and Ross cossetted, cajoled and grimly abused right across Africa just as I did the intricate engine of the boat running the gauntlet of the Chinese down the Yangtse.
I'm just glad I wasn't in the car with them!
This is a compelling story, told with a great deal of charm and humour, and edge of the seat stuff.
The wonder is that they lived to tell their tale.

by Anne Jennings brown

I was privileged to read the mss pre-publication of this fascinating tale. I was immediately impressed with the prose - well written, focused, plenty of tags, showing not telling. They say truth is stranger than fiction and none more in this page turning story. Sara manages to keep my absolute attention from the first page to their arrival in Zambia. I felt I was there, watching helplessly at every life threatening episode. It might be a tale of the 70s but it was as gripping to me as at happened yesterday, Congratulations Sara, I wait for the next book which I guess will have to be fiction! Write On!

by Bryan Drake

They have to make it. Surely they must make it? After all, Sara's telling us the story.
A young newlywed couple, hardly out of their teens, decide to drive all the way through Europe and more than halfway across Africa, to join the husband's new job. They can't fail, can they? They've bought a brand new car, so that shouldn't have any difficulty; they're young, strong and healthy. It's 1970, the world is a bright shiny place.
Except Africa isn't ready for travellers like these, and they're not ready for Africa. Their car is a straight-off-the-showroom-floor Hillman Hunter, a sturdy piece of kit for normal use, but Ross and Sara will be giving it some very abnormal use indeed. Oh, and its colour is called Golden Sand!
This is 1970: before Internet, before mobile phones, before satnav, before AIDS, before Ewan McGregor going The Long Way Down.
With breathtaking optimism and scanty preparation (Sara hadn't even learned to drive yet) the young couple meet almost every hazard you can imagine on their trip. How they deal with each one will keep you turning page after page, and in those pages you will meet, as they did, a cast of fleeting acquaintances who will surprise, dismay and cheer you. Told with genuine warmth, love and humour (often directed at themselves) Appointment in Zambia is a satisfying, nail-biting true adventure. You won't be disappointed.

by Eddy Rafter

This was a wonderful book to read. Once started I could not put it down.

There were easier ways to get to Zambia, but all these experiences would have been missed?

by Lorna

A fantastic read, but ...

...What happened to the Hillman Hunter?
Has it been rebuilt and survived, did it still serve them for a while in Zambia and does it still exist in Africa somewhere?

by Paul

Fascinating! I have made a post about this book in my blog dedicated to the Hillman Hunter and other Chrysler/Rootes Arrow series cars

by PaykanHunter

Sara Dunn

Sara left Edinburgh, her birthplace, to make the overland journey to Africa. She’d had a settled life until then, attending the same convent school for twelve years. Ross came on the scene when she was only fourteen. Her first venture abroad as a sixteen-year-old was en famille in France which gave her enough of the language to assist their journey through France and francophone Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and The Congo.

They stayed in Zambia for a total of five years, Sara finally learned to drive and they increased their number with three daughters. Africa kept calling them back, not least with Ross’s job in the nineties which took them to Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe. At this time they received the honour of being made chiefs of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Other trips took them around South Africa, Botswana and Namibia experiencing more adventures waiting to be told.

As a retired teacher Sara divides her time between Cyprus and Berkshire. Paphos Writers Group have steered her through a different journey leading to the publication of ‘Appointment in Zambia’ which is more than 40 years overdue.

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