The British Empire Library

Barefoot over the Serengeti

Beating About the Bush

Waters of the Sanjan

by David Read

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by Geoff Cotterell (Tanganyika 1952-61)
David Read, who was born and brought up in Tanganyika and still resides there, has written two books covering his life in East Africa from his early life on Tanganyika’s Serengeti Plains, where his only playmates were Maasai youngsters, and on the Lupa Goldfield in the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika. He describes his early education at an Arusha School and his first taste of employment with Tanganyika’s Geological Survey at Dodoma. This early period of his life is fully described in: Barefoot over the Serengeti.

His second book, Beating About the Bush, relates to his wartime experiences with the 6th and 4th Battalions of The King’s African Rifles. He fully describes his progress through the ranks and his experiences in Rhodesia, Kenya, Abyssinia, Madagascar and Burma. Whilst serving as a platoon commander he had the unique experience of commanding Samburu soldiers in an almost complete Ugandan battalion.

His wartime experiences are fully described together with the names of fellow K.A.R. Officers, Warrant Officers and NCOs that may be familiar to those who served with East Africans, and had similar experiences and perhaps came across the author. David Read’s final fling prior to demobilisation was to command the Uganda Contingent that marched in the Victory Parade through London, which was a first time experience for both himself and these African soldiers.

On demobilisation, David joined the Tanganyika Veterinary Department as a Livestock Marketing Officer. Concluding his biography he describes his life arranging cattle markets, which he combined with an appointment as an Honorary Game Warden. Both these pleasant forms of employment gave him wonderful opportunities for hunting safaris and a chance to enjoy life to the full in a life style that is now unique. In the early 1950s David went into business for himself, firstly as a cattle buyer and then as a farmer on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, where he still maintains agricultural interests.

He also records his great interest in the Maasai and Wanderobo, about whom he is considered one of the few European authorities, through his close contact with them, his fluency in their own languages and his practical knowledge of their way of life, customs and traditions.

Those who were lucky enough to have lived in East Africa will find much of mutual interest that David, with his zest for life, has shared with them and all who have an interest in everything East African. These books contain experiences and a life that can never be repeated again.

David Read has also written an historical novel Waters of the Sanjan, based on the life of a known Maasai warrior, who lived at the turn of the last century, which he gathered at first hand from Maasai elders. David writes a great deal about the lifestyle and customs that the Maasai pursued at the height of their ascendancy. The events and customs are accurate accounts of events that took place in real places that can still be identified today. Seldom has a European given such first accounts of the Maasai’s bygone ways of life, which are told through the eyes of a young Maasai’s progress through the rituals of manhood.

British Empire Book
David Read
Crime in Books


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