Goodreads Review (Justine Gilbert)

There’s a touch of Kipling in this book. The real Kipling, not Disney. It is a fascinating but long tale told through the eyes of Rorke Wilde. I have known people born and brought up in Africa, who endured the brutality of colonial English boarding schools. In their early years, these first generation white Africans were cared for by local black help, learning local languages and customs. As the globe changed, their families were forced to move away, many to England, but the African born generation didn’t identify with Britishness: they identified with African lands and dreamt of African sunrises. When, as adults, they tried to return to countries changed from white to black rule, they found themselves outcasts – the offspring of an oppressive white rule.

This, then, is the tale of The Chameleon: a very real history for many white people born into a dying community who grew up to become refugees, with British passports. They didn’t hanker after colonialism. Far from it. As children, they saw the unfairness with which the local population was treated, and wanted to side with the local families who had shown them kindness. David Farrell mentions how Mandela tried to sort the problem with ‘a rainbow country’, but in the final analysis, human beings are tribal, and such hurdles are high.
A very interesting book, putting across a point of view that is rarely expressed.

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