Africa To Aotearoa - Historical Fiction

chameleon
Chameleon

Rorke O'Malley (Rory) stays in a village in Zimbabwe’s largest national park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. He spends his time with Bow, the chameleon at his favourite hideout, a 2000-year-old baobab tree. He lives off the land picking wild fruits in the subtropical climates, dreaming of past visitors.

His parents send him to a boarding school which appals him at leaving all that he loves in an era of escalating guerrilla warfare. Perplexed why they are sending him four hundred kilometres away. Rory confides in Themba Sibindi, the family’s domestic worker, which begins a lifetime kinship.  It is a risky relationship in a nation of political unrest.

Rory prepares himself. Aware he must live up to his parent’s expectations and the demands of the minority community. He knows he can’t fight the inevitable so puts up a facade of bravery, throwing himself into the foray of bullying, self-preservation, aggression and racism.

Rory spends seven years at boarding school. The first couple is terrifying, but he works his way through the nightmare.  As a senior he refuses to put others through the same torment and the constant display of cruelty based on age, gender, race and creed confuse him.  He puts his people skills toward resisting evil and in removing an indoctrinated apathy. Themba is always there ensuring his safety via an unseen network.

On leaving school Rory enjoys young adulthood. Alcohol, woman and freedom to do as he pleases. A carefree time of a beckoning future and the divorce of his parents who no longer have a hold over him. When accused of stealing the weekly wages, his bubble bursts. A torrid stint in the cramped confines of a police cell his father oversaw. An age of irony and reversed persecution. The episode refocuses Rory to the realities of southern Africa in the 1980s. He searches greener pastures in the home of his forefathers in the United Kingdom, along with the growing tide of those escaping the political upheaval.

In his twenties, he revels in the freedom of a first world country where he finds employment and soon rises through the ranks. At twenty-two years of age, he accumulates the material trappings of commercial success. Life is wonderful, but something is amiss. He cannot share his loneliness. Mud island cannot hope to replace his beloved Africa and mentor, Themba.

Nelson Mandela’s release speech after twenty-seven years of incarceration in 1990 persuades Rorke O’Malley to return home. It is another decision that many close to him can’t comprehend. The early periods go well. The new South Africa is exciting and scary, but soon the talk is not meeting the walk. Corruption replaces bureaucrats, racism for nepotism. Violence takes on the death of its own. Toby is disappointed for always seeing the bright side, of being let down by his own expectations. Of hopes dashed by human shortcomings, politics and financial greed.

Xenophobia is rife. Madiba has gone. Rory’s family is struggling. The breakdown of law and order curtails his personal freedom. Rory re-unites with his long-lost friend, Themba, who shares the story of his nephew Lucky Ndlovu in the squatter camps of Johannesburg. Rory needs to find a haven for his family. He takes a speculative flight to Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand of which he knows little. On a ferry, he sees the Auckland skyline when a sense of wellbeing from deep within envelopes him. The narrative concludes (not ends) with his household joining him.  He lives with his memories and regrets of what he could or should have done.

A story of the struggle of Africa told from three unique perspectives determining whether she and her people can grow. To have access to the basics and perhaps even dream of peace and stability.

cartoon

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.