The British Empire Library

Heart of Africa

by Joan I. Smith

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by A Bertrand
These tales covering eleven years of Joan Smith’s everyday life in Tanganyika with her husband and family, often fraught with danger, both from wildlife and climate. Despite her statement to the contrary, the author obviously coped better than most with many close encounters with animals and large reptiles that make the reader shudder, even though some are, in hindsight, quite amusing.

For those of us who have never been to Africa, a very vivid picture is painted of the area in which Mrs. Smith lived and travelled - especially in the chapter deseribing the safari on which she and their children accompanied her husband when he visited the bee keeping areas of the northern part of Tanganyika, part of his work being the quality control of honey and beeswax. We are made very aware of the type of terrain, scenery and elimate and the hazards encountered on the trip, and share in the thrill of seeing the snow-eapped Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time.

We are also given little titbits of information, such as how the ‘honey guide’ bird exacts his awful revenge on honey seekers when his services go unrewarded, and are made aware of the warm relationship that existed between the Colonials and their workers.

This book is written so descriptively and with such a delightful throw-away sense of humour that it will be enjoyed by all readers, especially those of our lady members who have had to cope with young families in similar circumstances. There is the hint of another book being written about the life of the Smith family after their move from Africa to Australia, which I hope is a promise.

British Empire Book
Joan I. Smith
The Author


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