Synopses & Reviews
Blue mountains, golden fields, gin and tonics on the terrace--once it had seemed the most idyllic place on earth. But by August 2002, Marondera, in eastern Zimbabwe, had been turned into a bloody battleground, the center of a violent campaign. One bright morning, Nigel Hough, one of the few remaining white farmers, received the news he had been dreading. A crowd of war veterans was at his gates, demanding he hand over his homestead. The mob started a fire and dragged him to an outhouse. To his shock, the leader of the invaders was his familys much-loved nanny Aqui. Get out or well kill you,” she said. There is no place for whites in this country.”
Christina Lamb uncovered the astonishing saga she tells in House of Stone while traveling back and forth to report clandestinely on Zimbabwe. Her powerful narrative traces the history of the brutal civil war, independence, and the Mugabe years, all through the lives of two people on opposing sides. Although born within a few miles of each other, their experience growing up could not have been more different. While Nigel played cricket and piloted his own plane, Aqui grew up in a mud hut, sleeping on the floor with her brothers and sisters. They had cars and went shopping in South Africa. We didnt have food and had to walk an hour each way to fetch water,” she remembers.
House of Stone (dzimba dza mabwe” or Zimbabwe” in Shona) is based on a remarkable series of interviews with this white farmer and black nanny, set against the backdrop of the last British colony to become independent, and the descent into madness of Robert Mugabe, one of Africas most respected nationalist leaders.
"A balanced portrait of emotions, ideologies, and awakenings on both sides of the racial divide." Kirkus Reviews
"House of Stone succeedsin some ways better than any other recent book about Zimbabwein describing the trauma of a land claimed by two peoples and the bitter, lingering legacy of colonialism." Christian Science Monitor
"Interesting." Review Essays
Once considered an idyllic place to live, the beautiful land of Eastern Zimbabwe turned into a bloody battleground and the center of a violent campaign in August 2002. One morning, white farmer Nigel Hough came face-to-face with a crowd of black war veterans at his gates, who demanded that he hand over his homestead or he would be killed. To his shock, he saw that the leader of this mob was his family’s much-loved nanny, Aqui, who told him, “There is no place for whites in this country.” The intertwined voices of Nigel and Aqui bring immediacy and emotion to the history of the brutal civil war and independence. In riveting interviews, readers learn about two people on opposing sides who were born within a few miles of each other—Nigel, who played cricket and piloted his own plane, and Aqui, who grew up in a mud hut and was often hungry. The personal accounts document the terrible trajectory of the last British colony to become independent, as well as the descent into madness of Robert Mugabe, once one of Africa’s most respected nationalist leaders.
About the Author
Christina Lamb is a foreign affairs correspondent for the Sunday Times and the author of The Africa House, The Sewing Circles of Herat, and Waiting for Allah.