LIVINGSTONE’S TRIBE

A Journey from Zanzibar to the Cape

HarperCollins, London, 1999
 

Livingstone’s Tribe is my most personal book. Having grown up in apartheid South Africa and been drawn back to the continent that I left as a young man, I set out to find the whites who had stayed on in post-independence Africa. In 1997 I journeyed in search of this diminishing tribe, old colonials who held out in the last enclaves of an increasingly dishevelled entitlement or who had assimilated and, in the language of empire, “gone native”. The means of transport – bus, train and matatu (local minibuses driven by young men drunk on speed) – brought its own encounters with Africa.

From the cover: “Stephen Taylor travels from east to southern Africa, starting with a whirlwind tour on the back of the vicar of Zanzibar’s motorbike. Through, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Taylor talks to blacks and whites (the mzungu) on dirt tracks, in buses, at bars and on great latticed verandahs. He meets the last white landowner in Uganda and drinks beer with a man named Delicious; at the Great Lakes he walks in the footsteps of the early colonial explorers, Burton and Speke, and meets Victoria, a formidable female entrepreneur named after the imperial queen. In his journey, Taylor examines the identity of Livingstone’s tribe (the whites who have stayed on), his own ambivalence towards the great continent in which he grew up and the future of Africa’s southern countries. Livingstone’s Tribe combines evocative and philosophical travel-writing with a remarkable history of some of the most dramatic lands in the world.”
 

Reviews 

“An extraordinary, passionate and personal journey into Africa’s past. Stephen Taylor finds a melancholy collection of white misfits and failures as well as a heroic, dwindling clutch of missionaries still holding the line. The catalogue of theft, corruption, murder and superstition that Taylor chronicles makes appalling, fascinating reading. Yet Taylor is no Blimp, rather an anti-apartheid liberal who fled the old South Africa and welcomed independence for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe ... The most enthralling account out of Africa for years.”

The Daily Mail

 

“Taylor’s astute political analyses blend with a palpable love of the African landscape and an incisive curiosity about its people. His quick-sketch talents get to the heart of their stories, revealing far-from-predictable attitudes … While sobering, Livingstone’s Tribe is never shrill. Instead, Taylor sounds a note of shrewd nostalgia for the countries where he once lived – and delivers some exceptionally fine travel reportage while he’s at it.”

The New York Times

 

“Taylor is an intelligent and stimulating companion ... Livingstone’s Tribe is excellent.”

Financial Times

 

“Taylor’s expedition into the interior of the continent’s colonial past has got everything that such a book should have.”

The Guardian

 

“At the book’s heart is a riveting examination of Livingstone’s tribe … the whites of post-independence Africa.”

– Independent on Sunday

 

“Sights and travel experiences are vividly described and people both from Livingstone’s and from the other tribes are handled particularly well.”

The Sunday Times 

 

In 1997 I journeyed in search of this diminishing tribe, old colonials who held out in the last enclaves of an increasingly dishevelled entitlement or who had assimilated and, in the language of empire, “gone native”. The means of transport – bus, train and matatu (local minibuses driven by young men drunk on speed) – brought its own encounters with Africa.

From the cover: “Stephen Taylor travels from east to southern Africa, starting with a whirlwind tour on the back of the vicar of Zanzibar’s motorbike. Through, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Taylor talks to blacks and whites (the mzungu) on dirt tracks, in buses, at bars and on great latticed verandahs. He meets the last white landowner in Uganda and drinks beer with a man named Delicious; at the Great Lakes he walks in the footsteps of the early colonial explorers, Burton and Speke, and meets Victoria, a formidable female entrepreneur named after the imperial queen. In his journey, Taylor examines the identity of Livingstone’s tribe (the whites who have stayed on), his own ambivalence towards the great continent in which he grew up and the future of Africa’s southern countries. Livingstone’s Tribe combines evocative and philosophical travel-writing with a remarkable history of some of the most dramatic lands in the world.”
 

Reviews 

“An extraordinary, passionate and personal journey into Africa’s past. Stephen Taylor finds a melancholy collection of white misfits and failures as well as a heroic, dwindling clutch of missionaries still holding the line. The catalogue of theft, corruption, murder and superstition that Taylor chronicles makes appalling, fascinating reading. Yet Taylor is no Blimp, rather an anti-apartheid liberal who fled the old South Africa and welcomed independence for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe ... The most enthralling account out of Africa for years.”

The Daily Mail

 

“Taylor’s astute political analyses blend with a palpable love of the African landscape and an incisive curiosity about its people. His quick-sketch talents get to the heart of their stories, revealing far-from-predictable attitudes … While sobering, Livingstone’s Tribe is never shrill. Instead, Taylor sounds a note of shrewd nostalgia for the countries where he once lived – and delivers some exceptionally fine travel reportage while he’s at it.”

The New York Times

 

“Taylor is an intelligent and stimulating companion ... Livingstone’s Tribe is excellent.”

Financial Times

 

“Taylor’s expedition into the interior of the continent’s colonial past has got everything that such a book should have.”

The Guardian

 

“At the book’s heart is a riveting examination of Livingstone’s tribe … the whites of post-independence Africa.”

– Independent on Sunday

 

“Sights and travel experiences are vividly described and people both from Livingstone’s and from the other tribes are handled particularly well.”

The Sunday Times 

LIVINGSTONE’S TRIBE

A Journey from Zanzibar to the Cape

HarperCollins, London, 1999

Livingstone’s Tribe is my most personal book. Having grown up in apartheid South Africa and been drawn back to the continent that I left as a young man, I set out to find the whites who had stayed on in post-independence Africa.
 

Stephen Taylor