Chameleon (Africa To Aotearoa)

Historical Fiction


Chameleon is a fictional biography that challenges the norms of history by alluding to a third option. That of truth. Not in the tar brush perceptions of historians, but in facing the challenges of everyday life. It offers an alternative, devoid of agenda and presumption. In not choosing sides as people encounter dubious politics, racial divide and poverty still troubling Africa.

The author talks to a global diaspora of Africans amounting to 70 million people (2% of the world’s population) over the last 50 years, of which 6 million (4%) hail from Southern Africa.

Chameleon is the memoirs of Rorke Wilde. Born in Africa in the 1960s, who deals with the uncertainty of white rule in Rhodesia. A picaresque composite of Huckleberry Finn and Great Expectations told by the protagonist.

A first-person account of his exploits amongst the diverse communes and racial cultures on three continents as they influence and shape him.

Unlike many of the predictable adventures written about Southern Africa, Chameleon unites the heart and mind.

In the 1970s, Rorke Wilde’s parents send him to a boarding school where he goes through bullying under the guise of tradition, where they mould him to bolster the regime’s frail grasp on power. After which, he must serve his national service in a fight against guerrillas in their bid for a majority-ruled government. Driven by his stoic mother ensconced in the belief that what they are doing is right. Enforced by a father, a police officer, committed to the cause no matter the cost.

Rorke forges a close bond with his domestic worker, Themba Dube, a native amaNdebele, who guides him through life and shares a side of Afrika he hadn’t realised before.

A dangerous and unlawful liaison in a separatist state.

Post Zimbabwe independence in 1980, now a young man, he leaves the confines of school to enjoy the freedom of adulthood in an independent nation. Until they accuse him of stealing the company’s wages. Rory flees Africa after jail time to seek a new life in Europe.

After the release of Nelson Mandela, in 1991 and the hope that brought, he returns to Africa. The honeymoon period of the new South Africa soon gives way to xenophobia in the twenty-first century. Where he meets up again with his long-lost mentor, Themba. They continue whence they last saw one another decades before.

Themba introduces Rory to his nephew Lucky Ndlovu, who shares their survival in the squatter camps caused, in part, by the influx of many to the north of the border. In search of the gold-paved streets of Johannesburg.

By 2010, both decide there is no alternative with the increase in crime and political unrest but to leave South Africa.

Themba takes Lucky home across the Limpopo river and Rorke seizes an opportunity in New Zealand where the Aotearoa whanau embrace him and his family.

In 2020, Rorke reflects online with companions and family worldwide on how much the world has changed and how humanity has remained the same.


By kind permission of  Lazarus Ramontseng. He is an experienced multi-skilled artist who has been in the business for over fifteen years. His idea Lazart studio was to create a suitable platform for art to be created and exposed.  He specialises in South African township lifestyle using Paper Collage as a medium.