Camber Sands, England
Zambezi River, Zambia
Le Touquet Paris-Plage, France
3 - 3
Kayaking on the Zambezi
Hippo wading in the Zambezi
Morning - all is still on the river
Approaching Mosi-oa-tunya / Victoria Falls, Zambia
The spray from the world's largest sheet of falling water can be seen up to 30km away.
The smoke that thunders - Victoria Falls, Zambia
Boats on the river at dusk
Travelling in Africa
I started moving around southern Africa in the early 1980s extending my journey to Sierra Leone in West Africa. I refused opportunities in South Africa in the early days as apartheid still formed the basis of the political system and did not venture there until after the system was overthrown in the early 1990s.
I love the beauty, the rivers, the weather and the wildlife – the latter of these coming under pressure both from poachers seeking quick rewards from overseas buyers of ivory and rhino horns to locals forced by impending starvation to harvest their next meal. Armed anti poaching patrols have had some success – and eco-tourism provides paid work. The people - both local and the Europeans, known by many as the New Colonials, I have always found to be warm and welcoming.
At any time I find I am due to return to that continent you will find me walking around with a broad smile on my face and I am never put off by the few incidents I have faced with the thugs of a dictator, over zealous police seeking to increase their unpaid salaries with speeding fines and private security firms flexing their muscles.
My favourite method of travel – probably a walking safari and my favourite place possibly along the Zambezi River.
There are main rites and tribal traditions that are not confined by borders and which are still practiced today. In many traditional African cultures women are seen as the property of men – a ‘bride price’ is paid and ownership passes from father to husband.
On the death of a husband, all the husband’s belongings are passed to other male members of the husband’s family – the wife is part of this transaction – and is required to take part in a ceremony to cleanse her of her dead husband’s spirit – this requires performing sexual acts with her husband’s male relatives, or in some cases a visiting paid ‘cleanser’. This is viewed by many as a degrading and abhorrent ritual that has no place in a modern African society.
...a degrading and abhorrent ritual that has no place in modern African society.
Last year, 2014, the UK House of Lords and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon spoke out against it on International Widow’s Day [23 June].
I became aware of this secretive rite and believed it would make the basis of a powerful and disturbing story. It took me 10 years to realise it needed to be written with a woman in the lead role - the character of Romance, a young woman living in an undisclosed southern African country took shape and her compelling story is now told in The Cleansing.
It is powerfully illustrated with a convincingly realistic and thrilling story.
4 star - Amazon
Very well written, and an absorbing novel, could not put it down!! One cannot help but be completely taken by the story and the characters.
5 star - Amazon
“Just finished reading it .... Wow, heavy! Cleansing .... never knew of its existence , so it's good you're letting the world know about it...Great read ...Very enjoyable and now have insight into a horrendous ancient ritual.”
Dr Mark V.
A shy, but quietly determined young woman, working in a small southern African town – Romance is saving furiously for the future but living a day’s journey from her village and her husband. Life appears routine.
As the start of the new millennium approaches, the tension builds. She receives unwanted advances from male acquaintances, a visit by her husband becomes problematic, and her young English boss with whom she has established an uneasy friendship, finds himself in a situation where he is being accused of a heinous crime of which he denies all knowledge.
Whilst she is facing up to the trials and sadness a lonely New Year brings, the consequences and implications of the traditional rites of the past, still practised throughout her country and more apparently around where she lives, force her to make some life changing decisions.
We are taken into towns where western values and aspirations encroach, into townships where the black economy and old rituals persist and through shanty towns on city boundaries where tsotsi gangs run vice and drugs.
The Cleansing weaves a powerful plot, full of vivid encounters and fascinating characters, and depicts the harsh reality that still faces many, particularly the women, in Africa today. It never missing those opportunities for touches of humour and moments of gentleness that allow for hope to survive in desperate circumstances.