I always enjoy well-written books about Africa, such as Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, by Alexandra Fuller. It’s a story about colonial life in Kenya, Rhodesia, Malawi and finally Zambia. Although there’s a fair amount of tragedy, as there seems to be with most books of this kind, it ends on a bright note, which is quite uplifting.
I thought I’d already read Fuller’s other book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, but I hadn’t, so I’ve now started on that one.
Fuller left Malawi in 1983 – we arrived there in December 1983. She mentions Dick Matenje, whose daughter took over our house in Chirunga when we left, and who I worked with briefly later, in Botswana.
She mentions Zomba Mental Hospital, where Lindsey worked as an OT. “There is little to recommend the town of Zomba, or to set it apart from many other African cities of its nature, except the mental hospital on the main street. To the casual observer, the town of Zomba is primarily populated by mentally ill Malawians, escapees from the hospital, who tear around the modest city in sawn-off pink-, blue, and white-striped pyjamas.”
She must have been in Zomba on a Friday, the day that the patients tended to abscond from their wards in order to visit the Muslim shopkeepers, who often gave them a sixpence/5 tambala.