Call Me Chameleon
The selective memory of a kaleidoscopic-eyed globetrotter, from age 3 to this day
Papatchi (father) at 16, sailing to the Congo.
Mamica (left) and sister Lucia.
Two adventurers motorcycling through the Congo.
Mamica’s family in Salisbury – she stands first on the left.
Mamica in Beira (Mozambique) when she was 17: Hello everyone, I’m in fabulous Beira again.
Mamica in Beira, Mozambique.
Mamica and Papatchi in Kamina, Congo.
Mamica and Papatchi in the Congo bush with friend’s children.
Elisabethville / Lubumbashi (Congo), my parent’s wedding.
My parents with me in Cape Town, South Africa.
Albert in the Congo at 1 year old on a leopard spread.
with Mamica in Salisbury (Harare, Zimbabwe).
Mamica in 1944.
At the zoo in Elisabethville with my classmates.
Mamica’s extended family with Grandpa (center) at Salisbury airport.
Mamica with my sister Rachel in Durban, South Africa.
Mamica with my sisters in Salisbury.
Mamica and her 3 children in Durban, South Africa.
Mamica in Durban, South Africa.
Muranvya, Ruanda-Urundi, at the Kingʼs feast.
Two Congolese models hired by my father.
Village in Kivu (DR Congo).
Usumbura, my sister Shelly running in front of our house
Mamica in Usumbura.
Mamica in Usumbura.
Mamica in Nairobi, Kenya.
Congolese and Burundian staff, Usumbura
Terrace of our house, Usumbura.
Mamica and Papatchi in Bukavu, on the shores of lake Kivu, Congo.
With our family car, Usumbura.
My parents (center), with friends, in Usumbura (Burundi).
Mamica taking the plane.
Usumbura, interracial sport at All Burp’s school, from his African novel Princes and Gods.
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...
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...
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 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 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 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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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' 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...
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...