"Brian Dermott whistled softly as he drove. From time to time he sang scraps of songs in a tuneless voice and now it was 'Get Me To The Church On Time'. He could see the sweet green island of District Commissioner's boma up ahead, to the left, and in a moment now he would be approaching the sentry box. He could see the hot morning sun heliographing bright meaningless messages off the roofs of the Somali shanty town, off the crazy-leaning houses built of fist-pounded tin jerry cans, and he had passed few Somals along the dusty road, the men striding haughtily ahead of their women, who walked fluidly beneath the heavy loads they bore on their heads."
Another book I first read thanks to the local library – I’d originally picked up his ‘Use Enough Gun’ hunting account, and reading the flyleaf at the back found he was a novelist.
I picked up the above hardback at a charity shop. Teeny tiny print (it's a Book Club edition), but it's a great account of Kenya as it teeters on the brink of independence, and of the changes (not all of them for the better) that are to come.
I read this in a weekend, and then went on to read 'Something Of Value', which is similarly set in Kenya, but at the time of the Mau-Mau Uprising. It was filmed, with Rock Hudson as the chisel-jawed hero, and Sidney Poitier as his childhood friend. It deserves better than this pedestrian adaptation, but neither book is likely to fare well in today's oh-so-politically correct world.
As an account of a way of life about to disappear forever, it can't be bettered...