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Pole to Pole

Day 110: Shiwa

Shiwa, Zambia 
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Zambia - present and past: English country life endures at Shiwa Ngandu.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOn Sir Stewart's grave, set on a hill a mile away from the house and looking out over the forest-fringed lake of Shiwa Ngandu, is engraved the name Chipembele. I ask Lorna its meaning.

'It means rhinoceros, which was his African name . . . a rhino charges and then actually stops, and he was just like that. He would get very angry with you and then five minutes later he would be asking for a loan . . . '

John Harvey saw this as a positive advantage.

'As a politician he was a tremendous chap. He was a sort of Churchill, and he just rode over everybody and got his own way.'

He ran the estate feudally, as Lorna put it, 'as you would in Europe; the gardeners and people came through the back door, not the front door', but he had no time for the apartheid that existed in Northern Rhodesia. 'We were brought up that you respected a person for their age, not their colour.'

John thinks Sir Stewart's influence helped avoid either a bush war of the kind that destroyed Southern Rhodesia or terrorism on the scale of the Mau-Mau in Kenya, though eventually he lost the political support of the Africans by championing a paternalist solution which fell short of the self-rule they wanted. He died in 1967 but Shiwa is full of his presence - not just in books and pictures and portraits and rhino motifs on beams and brickwork, but in spirit. The flag is still raised and lowered every day on the balcony outside the library, and the estate workers are still summoned by drum to a muster parade at seven o'clock every morning.
Shiwa, Zambia 
click to enlarge 
file size
Zambia - present and past: English country life endures at Shiwa Ngandu.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 110
  • Country/sea: Zambia
  • Place: Shiwa
  • Book page no: 251

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