Durban-based authoress Linda Smith has written a book which is not only autobiographical charting her youth in the tumultuous content of Africa in the 60s, but provides food for thought for the way in which we as a continent should move forward as a rainbow nation.

“I believe that if ignorance can be banished from this world, if people can communicate with each other fully, frankly, and in depth, then all wars will cease because the cause of war is fear and hatred, and hatred is the ugly daughter of the evil witch of ignorance” – Zulu Shaman Dr Credo Mutwa

Little is known of the true history of Africa, and for Linda Smith who spent much of her formative years in Mufulira (formerly Northern Rhodesia which is now known as Zambia) it has been imperative that she tells the tale.

That she has a gift for writing is beyond question for with the word pictures she creates one is taken on a journey of adventure, excitement and abject fear as refugees flee from the atrocities of the Congo War and more.

Supplementing her tale with pictures and footnotes she shows how life changed in Africa – where politics became the name of the game and not necessarily for the betterment of its peoples.

The book can actually be divided into two distinct sections with the former charting her childhood and the way in which the outlook of the people around her changed. It tells of the forced removal of the Ba Tonka tribe so that the Kariba dam could be constructed; the break-up of the Federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland; and in a delightful way the hopes of youngsters (immaterial of colour) who saw the potential of adventure in lush forests, fording streams and absorbing all that Africa had to offer including its magnificent sunrises and sunsets,

The ‘second’ section shows how far she had drifted from her original dreams and away from the person that she really was (but now is). It’s an awakening and the reason for the title ‘Returning to Myself’. And this is applicable to everyone (male and female).

She also looks at how religion and politics (two subjects which are supposedly taboo in conversation) affect our everyday lives and how often we tend to brush away conflicts rather than face them head on.

“There’s more to life than just having a job,” she states. “We need not exhaust ourselves chasing money, but should rather take the time to develop our consciousness and our love for self, our love for others, the Earth and all her inhabitants.

“In this new day and age, the way to an enriched life and to attain true wealth, and enjoy prosperity is to work honestly and with integrity.” And this brings me back to the opening quote by Sangoma Dr Credo Mutwa – who inspired Linda to tell her tale. If we take the time to understand each other and take ‘I’ out of the equation the world (to quote Michael Jackson) ‘will be a better place for you and me and the entire human race’.

I hope that when you read ‘Returning to Myself’ you are impacted by Linda’s words as much as I was and in the latter section come to realise whether you are on the right path to making YOUR world a better place.
Ailsa Windsor

Returning to Myself by Linda Smith
Fish Eagle Books

After having a renowned Zulu Sangoma throw the bones for her, Linda Smith heeds his advice and that of her inner voice, which prompts her to write about her upbringing in the then Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and to shed light on the political and social hardships which Africa has undergone since the 60s.
Here the author covers mutiny in the Congo, the forced removal of the Ba Tonka tribe so that the Kariba dam could be constructed and the break-up of the Federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Smith shows how, with rushed independence, discord and corruptibility have been the order of the day and led to poor governance, abuses of power, human rights violations, incompetence, nepotism and other ‘evil atrocities’.

Smith reminds us how admirable it is that she is willing to speak out about Africa’s problems, since many, including the former colonial powers, are guilty of turning a blind eye.

The author does not condone Africa’s begging bowl attitude, but denigrates the feigning of innocence by countries such as Britain who have been critical of policies which they themselves set into place throughout Africa.

In the final third of the book, she counters these negative scenarios by describing in esoteric terms the “art of being a good human being”.

This book can hardly be described as politically correct in yesteryear talk of “African outnumbering the Europeans in Copperbelt town”, and “innocent garden boys” who water gardens even when it rained. But it aptly captures the happy sunny days and heavy rainstorms of Smith’s relatively privileged childhood which was spent in the mining town of Mufulira, when not holidaying in South Africa, Nyasaland (Malawi), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Beira (Maputo, Mozambique).

This reminiscing clearly resonates with others who were raised here, as her website records the endorsement of a number of Mufulirans who share similar memories.
The Daily News, Durban

Author, Linda Smith, gives her version of events and her experiences in Central and Southern Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. She gives a graphic description of horrors in the Congo, the changes experienced in the Rhodesias (Zambia and current day Zimbabwe), and finally tells about her move to, and life in South Africa. In the final chapters of the book Linda offers wisdom on how to deal with life and relationships – pertinent when considered in light of what Africa has suffered.

Mum’s Mail – August 2012