A collection of real life drama anecdotes from colonial life during the 1950's and 60's in Central Africa. The book is written in real time today with 'flash backs' to amusing and/or terrifying events in the writer's past. Stories go from getting trapped down a deep pothole with five dead bodies, to facing the formidable Cape Buffalo. The writer has danced with a bull elephant, caught a crocodile with a fishing rod, swum with Hippos and been charged by a leopard. The follow up to Let Sleeping Lions Lie, WILD GRASS, will be available soon.
The assegai made a slight whistling sound as it passed by my cheek, grazing it slightly before its honed blade bit deep into the tree by which I was standing. Raising my hand to feel the warm blood oozing from the fresh abrasion, I made as if to move away but was held fast to the tree by my shirt collar. Before me were five or six men, one of which was running toward me with another spear held at waist level, its blade pointing straight at my body. I recognised it's bearer as the same man I'd seen earlier in the bar at Kalomo, a South African of Afrikaner stock with a face that looked like it was made out of dried leather.
Why had this group decided to follow me out into the bush and now threaten my life?
I looked at them as they advanced. They were a surly bunch with an obvious intent of killing me, right there, right then.
The South African spoke first.
"Hey Boetie, this is for all the trouble your father has caused me..."
He cursed as he violently thrust the long thin blade of the spear at my stomach. I grabbed at it in a frantic effort to prevent it from slicing into me, the sharp blade cut deep into my hands and blood began to run down my fingers. It dripped onto the earth beneath my feet. I couldn’t remember ever being so scared in my life. I was convinced that it would end in death, my death. My fingers were beginning to lose their grip and I could feel the blade beginning to slide towards my stomach. The man had a sardonic grin on his face and was totally committed to plunging the steel blade deep into my body. He adjusted his grip and pulled the assegai back to make another thrust. I knew that I would not be able to hold out against another thrust. I wriggled and twisted, trying to break free from the spear holding me to the tree behind me. I knew that if I could just tear my shirt I could at least parry a little, but no, it was too strong.
Then suddenly a shot rang out and the men faltered. They were clearly startled. There was some shouting and leather-face dropped the spear as they all fled into the forest.
A friend, seeing the men follow me out into the darkness, was swift on their heels, his rifle in his hands.
He had saved my life that night. I fail to remember now just which one of my friends that was, but if you ever read this book, you know who you are and I am eternally grateful to you.
That was more than forty years ago. Now greying at the temples with slight laughter lines around my twinkling eyes, I sat looking out at the evening sun dipping behind the Cornish landscape. I turned and looked at myself in the mirror.
"So, where are you now eh?" I asked myself.
There was a hint of a smile on my lips, and any observer might have thought I had seen something amusing out in the gardens of Western Castle Hotel. They would not have imagined that I was thinking back to a conversation I had had earlier that day, in the local branch of a high street bank. There a young woman had expressed the thought that I had a South African accent. "You've got a bit of an accent - are you Australian, or is it South African?" she asked
"Neither actually," I replied, "I grew up in Zambia in fact, I did go to South Africa to work but I was invited to leave after less than two years."
"I knew there was something in your accent. I had a friend from South Africa."
"Yes, there are similarities - but I prefer not to be called a South African, not after the way the jack-booted police threw me out of the country in 1968!"
"What, they threw you out?"
"As I said, I was invited to leave."