Call Me Chameleon

The selective memory of a kaleidoscopic-eyed globetrotter, from age 3 to this day

1920's

Papatchi (father) at 16, sailing to the Congo.

1922

Mamica (left) and sister Lucia.

1930’s

Mamica (mother), last sitting, with family & friends in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

1930's

Mamica, 17 years old, in Beira, Mozambique.

1930's

Two adventurers motorcycling through the Congo.

1930's

Mamica’s family in Salisbury – she stands first on the left.

late 1930's

Mamica in Beira (Mozambique) when she was 17: Hello everyone, I’m in fabulous Beira again.

1937

Mamica in Beira, Mozambique.

1942

Mamica and Papatchi in Kamina, Congo.

1942

Mamica and Papatchi in the Congo bush with friend’s children.

1942

Elisabethville / Lubumbashi (Congo), my parent’s wedding.

1944

My parents with me in Cape Town, South Africa.

1944

Albert in the Congo at 1 year old on a leopard spread.

1944

with Mamica in Salisbury (Harare, Zimbabwe).

1944

Mamica in 1944.

1946

Albert, baby Rachel and their parents in Jadotville / Likasi (Congo).

1949

my parents and my sisters in Elisabethville (Lubumbashi, Congo).

Paris 1950

Papatchi first left, Mamica, third left & couple friends.

1950

with my violin teacher in Elisabethville, Congo.

1950

At the zoo in Elisabethville with my classmates.

Early 1950's

with Mamica in Durban, South Africa.

Early 1950's

Mamica’s extended family with Grandpa (center) at Salisbury airport.

Mid 1950’s

Mamica with my sister Rachel in Durban, South Africa.

1951

Mamica with my sisters in Salisbury.

1953

Mamica and her 3 children in Durban, South Africa.

1953

Mamica in Durban, South Africa.

1956

Muranvya, Ruanda-Urundi, at the Kingʼs feast.

1957

Two Congolese models hired by my father.

1957

Village in Kivu (DR Congo).

1958

Usumbura, my sister Shelly running in front of our house

1957

Mamica in Usumbura.

1957

Mamica in Usumbura.

1957

Mamica in Nairobi, Kenya.

1957

Congolese and Burundian staff, Usumbura

1957

Terrace of our house, Usumbura.

1957

Mamica and Papatchi in Bukavu, on the shores of lake Kivu, Congo.

1957

With our family car, Usumbura.

1958

My parents (center), with friends, in Usumbura (Burundi).

1958

Mamica taking the plane.

1958

Usumbura, interracial sport at All Burp’s school, from his African novel Princes and Gods.

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ELISABETHVILLE, early 1950’s

ELISABETHVILLE, early 1950’s   His mother was ill and resting at home, so one of his father’s sisters came to fetch him at school.  He must have been seven.  They walked through the park and he answered his aunt’s questions concerning his teacher, his grades and his...

17 FIFE AVENUE

      Salisbury, in the 1950‘s   17 FIFE AVENUE    this address could be found anywhere in the vast English-speaking world or in any of Britain's erstwhile colonies but the place I'm referring to belongs to my childhood it is a house of red bricks with a wraparound...

WHO’S WRITING THIS MEMOIR?

Yeah yeah yeah, enough with all the hullabaloo, Albert, All Burp!  Yeah, folks, this is Zapinette speaking.  That here author of mine is offering you ... bothering you with ... his vely vely skewed memoir.  You don’t know who I am?  Shame on you.  So, for you, nerds,...

THE ROSE TREE

THE ROSE TREE Shelly and Minica brought me a gift oh, not a beautifully wrapped present as they are wont to gratify me with tokens of their sisterly love   No, this time, they gave me something that can only be defined as otherworldly, magical, straight out of a fairy...

WHEN THE SEA TURNS INTO A DESERT

WHEN THE SEA TURNS INTO A DESERT Mamica mia, this new year without you is like a magnificent sea suddenly emptied. Vanished are its limpid and iridescent blues its splendid turquoise, its reflective greens, that are the changing colors of your eyes gone too are the...

SALISBURY, EARLY 1950‘s

SALISBURY, EARLY 1950‘s you’re sitting with Shelly and Minica at the photographer’s studio the picture is in black and white you have never been more beautiful, Mamica people say you resemble Deborah Kerr but I find you even lovelier, of course, I’m your doting son,...

THAT PICTURE OF YOU

THAT PICTURE OF YOU Mamica, I look at you and you stare back at me no words exchanged yes I’m repeating myself because I want to prod you to ... to what?  Do I have to explain? just your smile, that magnificent smile which is the envy of every woman that broad smile...

REMEMBRANCE OF A CORRECTED PAST

  Mamica had read the following poem years ago and came back to it occasionally   REMEMBRANCE OF A CORRECTED PAST    When poring over the yellowed photograph of a radiant and beautiful woman, bringing it to your lips, you play the alchemists, changing its musty odor...

MAMICA MIA, MOTHER BELOVED

  This poem was written a few days before Mamica’s last journey, on 24 March 2013, but I felt too sad to send it to her, so that she never knew about it ... but now she does. MAMICA MIA, MOTHER BELOVED Mamica mia, don’t go away i know this to be a vain prayer i’m...

CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA, MID-1940‘s

I must be two and a half or maybe three years old we’ve just returned from the beach in Muizemberg we’re climbing the stairs to our guesthouse I feel terribly hot, the sun was blazing this afternoon you’re just behind me, then suddenly I see you fall and slip down the...

KAMINA, Belgian Congo (now DR Congo), 26 February 1943.

Any day now, in this Katangese backwater, Mamica Sarah will give birth to her first baby. She is alone in a small hospital room, attended to by kind Catholic Sisters.  Her husband is traveling in the Interior for his company and won’t be back home for another five...

Papacci

('Papacci' pronounced ‘papatchee, an endearing term for ‘father’) My father was a genuine adventurer, the opposite of a bourgeois. I describe him in my novel Eur-African Exiles, pointing out his great human qualities, his sense of justice and his generosity, for he...

M as in Mother

Mamica mia being the endearing term that comes from the Italian ‘Mamma mia cara’ (my darling mother), which my two sisters and I always called her ever since we were kids, in spite of the fact that she spoke to us in English mainly, for she was herself raised in that...

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