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Authors: Jeremy Mallinson

Someone Wishes to Speak to You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

After leaving the regular army of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Jeremy Mallinson joined the staff of Gerald Durrell’s newly formed zoological park in Jersey. During his forty-two year career in zoos and conservation he has studied animals in Africa, Asia and South America. He served as Gerald Durrell’s Deputy and Zoological Director and, after his mentor’s death in 1995, he was appointed Director of the renamed Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. He has written more than two hundred papers and articles, addressed conferences in over twenty different countries, and is the author of ten books. He has received many awards for his service to animal conservation worldwide, including a DSc (Hon) from The University of Kent and the OBE in 1997. Jeremy Mallinson lives in Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the same author

Okavango Adventure – In Search of Animals in Southern Africa
(David & Charles, 1973)

Earning Your Living with Animals
(David & Charles, 1975)

Modern Classic Animal Stories
, Editor (David & Charles, 1977)

The Shadow of Extinction – Europe’s Threatened Wild Mammals
(Macmillan, 1978)

The Facts about a Zoo
(G. Whizzard, 1980)

Travels in Search of Endangered Species
(David & Charles, 1989)

‘Durrelliania’ – An Illustrated Checklist
(Bigwoods, 1999)

The Count’s Cats
(Llumina Press, 2004)

The Touch of Durrell – A Passion for Animals
(Book Guild, 2009)

Les Minquiers – Jersey’s Southern Outpost
(Seaflower Books, 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

SOMEONE WISHES TO
SPEAK TO YOU

Jeremy Mallinson

Book Guild Publishing

Sussex, England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First published in Great Britain in 2014 by

The Book Guild Ltd

The Werks

45 Church Road

Hove, BN3 2BE

Copyright © Jeremy Mallinson 2014

The right of Jeremy Mallinson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

While this book is set amid real events, it is a work of fiction.

Typesetting in Sabon by

Keyboard Services, Luton, Bedfordshire

Printed in Great Britain by

CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

A catalogue record for this book is available from

The British Library.

ISBN 978 1 909984 39 4
ePub ISBN 978 1 910508 04 6
Mobi ISBN 978 1 910508 05 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In memory of two of the greatest of friends,
Colin C. Jones and Jay M. Duncan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

Acknowledgements

Part One In Pursuance of a Doctorate; 1965–1973

1

Adventurous Ambitions

2

Mount Kahuzi’s Kingdom of Gorillas

3

Conflicting Sentiments

4

A Moral Dilemma

Part Two A Return to Africa; 1974–1979

5

Leopard’s Rock

6

Chief Chidzikwee

7

Spirit of Rhodesia

8

Change of Direction

9

An Imire Rendezvous

10

A Diversity of Decisions

11

The Reluctant Informer

12

A Paradox of Valour

Postscript; ‘A Sadness to Behold’

A Selected Chronology of African Events

Glossary

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

The book, which merges fact with fiction, has greatly benefited from advice and conversations with the following persons:

A director general of MI5; a British ambassador; a British honorary consul; a lieutenant general (Rhodesian); a major general (British); an assistant commissioner (Colonial Police); a major (Household Brigade); an RAF pilot officer (Aden, 1965); an officer of the Psychological Warfare Action Group (Rhodesian); an international airline captain and flight lieutenant Rhodesian Air Force (Territorial); an equestrian expert; two American college and university graduates (Dickinson and Duke); the director/founder of Marwell Zoological Park; a director of Edinburgh Zoo; and an international primatologist.

Finally, the author is greatly indebted to Imogen Palmer (editor on behalf of Book Guild Publishing), who greatly developed the book’s dialogue, fixed inconsistencies, and helped to more directly involve the reader with its main characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part One

In Pursuance of a Doctorate; 1965–1973

 

 

 

 

 

1

Adventurous Ambitions

‘Captain Lumumba and his crew welcome you aboard – and we hope you enjoy your flight with us!’ said the tall, attractive flight stewardess as she showed Mathew Duncan to his window seat. He was one of the first passengers to board the Boeing 737 on its flight from Lubumbashi to Bukavu. The stewardess wore a long, green
pagne
with the head of President Mobutu Sésé Seko emblazoned prominently on the front of it, her hair combed with immense care and ingenuity into a series of neat rows, each with tightly plaited spike-like tufts erupting from the top. Soon the plane was seemingly at bursting point and the paraphernalia associated with such African travel appeared to block all access to emergency exits and even, in some places, to the aisle itself.

Just after noon the plane landed at Kalémi, about half way up the west coast of the long sausage-like form of Lake Tanganyika. A couple of poorly camouflaged armoured cars were parked near the eastern edge of the airfield, close to a disorderly collection of khaki tents. A group of dishevelled-looking military personnel were lounging or standing about like a small flock of perplexed sheep. During the plane’s two-hour refuelling stop at Kalémi, the passengers had been allowed to disembark under the watchful eyes of a couple of soldiers in full battle dress, casually brandishing their lethal-looking AK-47s. In order to escape from the intense heat of the midday sun, the passengers were guided to an airless,
corrugated-roofed reception area where an Air Congo ground staff member served lukewarm Coca Cola, packets of stale crisps and overripe bananas.

On the plane’s onward flight to Bukavu, in order not to stray across an international border, it clung to Lake Tanganyika’s western shoreline casting its streamlined dolphin-like shadow on the water. Forming the central basin of the Rift Valley, the lake marks the boundary between Zaire and Tanzania and in the northern region, between Zaire and Rwanda Burundi. This was Mathew’s first visit to Africa, although he had read a great deal about the European scramble to colonise central Africa in the mid-nineteenth century.

‘Where to, Bwana?’ After a scramble at the airport, Mathew had managed to secure a battered diesel Mercedes 504 taxi, driven by a jovial middle-aged man called Alfonse who fortunately spoke fluent English as well as the local Bemba dialect. ‘The Hotel Metropole in Bukavu,’ Mathew replied. ‘Do you know it?’ After a brief haggle over the fare – Mathew was too tired to put up much of an argument – the taxi started to wind its way along the potholed tarmac road as the rays of the sun were just starting to melt behind the sombre forested slopes of Mount Kahuzi. First, some neat and lush-looking coffee estates could be seen on either side of the road, prior to such order of cultivation being disrupted by clusters of thatched-plumed mud-built dwellings, their female occupants starting the evening chore of preparing fires to cook upon. Other womenfolk walked in single file at the side of the road, returning to their huts with old oil cans filled with water balanced miraculously on top of their heads. Small groups of goats were nibbling at everything within their reach, while the ubiquitous poultry pecked incessantly at the ground, with some of their number narrowly missing being run over as the driver scattered them, speeding past with a degree of cavalier abandon.

‘So . . . what brings you to Bukavu?’ asked Alfonse, looking at his passenger in the rear-view mirror. ‘I’m here to visit the Kahuzi-Biega National Park,’ replied Mathew. ‘The gorillas . . .’ ‘This is it!’ interrupted Alfonse before Mathew had a chance to elaborate. The taxi had reached the attractive township, picking its way through a generous rash of market vendors and past the small port into the main street before drawing up in front of the Hotel Metropole. Mathew paid the fare and paused to take in the faded grandeur of the hotel’s exterior for a few moments before entering.

Mathew had been given a letter of introduction to the Chairman of the Metropole Hotel Group in Lubumbashi by the Managing Director of Amiza, a major Belgian company that had been trading in the Congo for many decades prior to the country’s independence in 1960. Such an introduction had come by way of the Belgian CEO of Amiza having been on a number of grouse shoots on Mathew’s father’s estate in the Yorkshire Dales. For after having heard that one of Sir Colin Duncan’s sons was about to undertake some field work in Zaire he had arranged, through his Amiza headquarters in Kinshasa, to sponsor Mathew’s accommodation in Bukavu. This generous gesture provided Mathew with a spacious room, complete with a dramatic view over Lake Kivu, nestling comfortably within the embrace of the surrounding mountains. The scene reminded Mathew of the Alpine environments around the Italian lakes of Maggiore and Como. However, although the hotel must have been quite luxurious in its pre-independence prime, he was soon to find that in keeping with the majority of manmade structures in this region, it had seen better days.

In contrast with the beauty of the view from the window, the room itself was stark. The walls were bare, the mattress was thin with some uncomfortable-looking springs protruding and the bedding itself was rather threadbare – but all appeared to be reasonably clean and provided a perfectly serviceable
base. He kicked off his shoes and lay down, grateful to have reached his destination.

Mathew was the second son of Sir Colin and Lady Sally Duncan. Sir Colin’s father, Reginald Duncan, had been a wealthy Bradford land and mill owner who had purchased his baronetcy in 1914 at the start of the First World War. Sir Colin (and later, his two sons) had been brought up on the family’s 1,800-acre estate at Hartington Hall. The majority of Mathew’s formative years had been occupied by attending a preparatory boarding school on a large estate in Northumberland; horse riding, fox hunting, beagling and grouse shooting – all experiences which had led him to develop a fascination with natural history.

Mathew was just over six feet in height, with a mop of blond hair, pale blue eyes, a Duke of Wellington nose (which no doubt highlighted his family’s Viking ancestry) and the overall bearing of an athlete. During his teenage years he was inclined to be rather shy with a self-effacing disposition, but possessed that detached, distinguished-looking presence which in certain company set him apart from the usual rank and file of society. In spite of his initial shyness, he had inherited an adventurous spirit and had always thrived on unexpected challenges in atmospheres of uncertainty. Also, whenever he had set his sights on achieving a particular objective, more often than not he would be successful in seeing it through. Although Mathew had been brought up in the traditional manner for an English gentleman, while studying for ‘A’ levels at Wellington College, a prestigious public school in Berkshire, he had decided that instead of going to either Oxford or Cambridge he wanted to go to a university in the USA to further his academic career. For he was very much of the opinion that such a course of action and change of social environment would provide him with a wider cultural
awareness, in turn further stimulating his ever-inquisitive mind and spirit of adventure.

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