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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Tea, Scones, and Malaria: A Memoir of Growing up in Africa by Katlynn Brooke is a delightful look at life in Rhodesia as a white child growing up both before and after the UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). Seen through the eyes of an innocent child, the world of the African wild unfolds with beauty and splendor. This book takes us on the journey of a young girl from a relatively poor family, albeit a poor white family. She spent much of her young life traveling from small town to small town, spending large quantities of it in the Rhodesian bush, following her father’s job as an engineer building mainly bridges for the Rhodesian government. She details the harrowing as well as the enjoyable experiences that she and her siblings experienced in their “playground” of the wild Rhodesian bushlands. As a white child, she comes to understand the inherent differences and the injustice between the white minority rulers and the vast majority of the black population, when even as a poor white family they are viewed to be socially, economically, culturally, and educationally superior.
Tea, Scones, and Malaria is almost totally created from the author’s own memories, which gives it an inherent air of reality and truth. Author Katlynn Brooke perfectly describes a delightful, charming, and beautiful land that was wracked not only by the injustice of the minority rule of white over black but by the tribal divisions of the two principal tribes that made up the population of Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe as it was later known. I appreciated the reflection on the end of white rule and the injustices served on the majority population by the minority, which was then reversed, and the retribution on the new minority was swift and brutal. What I particularly enjoyed was her child-like and wondrous view of the natural world in which she was raised. Reading her recollections, one could truly begin to believe, as she clearly did, that there was magic in this land, a power greater than themselves. The author’s descriptions of the rugged beauty and the perils of this tough land are the highlights of the story. Even allowing for the “rose-colored glasses” effect of memory, readers will be swept up in the childish excitement for her environment and the encounters she experiences. Tea, Scones, and Malaria is a fantastic read that explains much about the tragedy that would eventually unfold in modern-day Zimbabwe and, to top it off, it is a wonderfully written story that is incredibly easy to read and enjoy.