CHAPTER ONE: ZIMBABWE 1983
Go ahead, shoot, I thought, because I was thirteen and desperate and anything, absolutely anything, was better than the fate to which my parents were leading me.
The policeman sat astride his growling motorbike, one hand on his holster, anonymous behind shades. He was one of the outriders for the new prime minister’s motorcade, signaling for cars to get off the road. If drivers didn’t stop quickly enough he was entitled to shoot. If they didn’t move right off the tarmac, he could shoot. If they did stop but the policeman thought the passengers inside looked shifty or saw them messing around, he’d shoot. He was nothing like the policemen back home.
Home, I thought. An old ache swelled in my stomach. England. Britain. So far away. For me, this Africa was another world, and as we sat there watching the rider watch us, Britain felt farther away than ever.
I sighed. My father completely misinterpreted it and tutted as he showed me his watch against a sunburned wrist.
“We’ve plenty of time; I made sure you wouldn’t be late on your first day,” he said. And instantly the fear came charging back. It was here: The day I’d prayed would never come. Any hope that my father might have a change of heart and take us back to our own country flickered and finally died.
The policeman didn’t move. With sweat glistening on his black-brown skin, he just glared at my mother and father and me as we sat rigidly in silence. It was getting hotter and hotter now that the air wasn’t rushing through the open windows. Beyond the car, insects clicked and buzzed in the dry grass. We were miles from anywhere. Anywhere but here.
A moment later the motorcade rushed by at a million miles an hour, the cars all secretive and dark. I didn’t know which one was the prime minister’s because you couldn’t see behind the tinted glass, though I guessed it was the biggest and sleekest Mercedes in the middle with the flags. “You see that?” My father spoke with the look of a child gazing through a toy-shop window. “There goes a great, great man. He’s given the people freedom—what could be a greater achievement than that?”
He caught my confused look in the rearview mirror.
“Didn’t you read that book I gave you?”
I nodded, lying, but he knew perfectly well I hated history.
“For generations, Europeans have treated Africa like a playground. We’ve carved it up among ourselves, stolen its riches, and not given a damn about the poor people who live here.”
My mother sighed, but my father was in full swing now.
“Britain claimed this land and called it Rhodesia, but the black Africans have fought back at last and tipped the balance of power, son. White minority rule is over, thank goodness. Rhodesia no longer exists. This is Zimbabwe. And, now that the fighting has finally finished, that man there’s going to do tremendous things for this country, you mark my words. He’s a hero.”
Copyright © Jason Wallace, 2010
Zimbabwe, 1980s—The war is over, independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. It is the end of the Old Way and the start of a promising new era. For Robert Jacklin, it’s all new: new continent, new country, new school. And very quickly he learns that for some of his classmates, including clever, cunning Ivan, the sound of guns is still loud, and their battles rage on—white boys who want their old country back, not this new black African government. For Ivan, there is still one battle to fight, and he’s taking it right to the very top.
Jason Wallace’s own experiences form the foundation of Out of Shadows, his award-winning debut novel. Mature content. (Ages 12 and up)
Hardcover Book : 288 pages
Publisher: Holiday House Inc. ( December 19, 2011 )
Item #: 13-562972
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 17.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)