Ian Hassall's Book Hamba Gashle Describes Life in a Rough Mining Town in Africa; a Dynamic, Hilarious, Satirical Read from Start to Finish

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Ian Hassall’s new book ‘Hamba Gashle’ reveals the inside story of white society in colonial Southern Africa.

A celebration of youth which transcends time or location.

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Ian Hassall’s edgy memoir describes his childhood in the Rhodesias, and then University in South Africa, between 1951 and 1970. It provides a vivid and disturbing depiction of childhood and family life set against racial exploitation, political change and the disintegration of his white community.

The 1950s and 1960s were a turbulent time in central and southern Africa. Ian Hassall’s troubled childhood is set against the implosion of white rule. Hamba Gashle paints a rich and informative picture of this period, honest, critical and unflattering, attacking its racism. Key historical events are interwoven with the youthful narrator’s preoccupations, adventures, sexual encounters and daydreams, sometimes hilariously.

Ian Hassall’s novel is written as a diary from childhood through to early adulthood. The deceptively simple style provides a sense of immediacy, building a vivid picture through apparently unconnected events. The child narrator arrives in Northern Rhodesia from England aged four. Soon after, his parents divorce and he is fostered for several years. His mother marries an anti-British Afrikaaner who is a strong influence on the boy. As a teenager he becomes delinquent and fails at school. He moves with his father’s family to Rhodesia as it is approaching UDI. The narrator has developed anti-racist views and joins the protest movement at university in South Africa. Finally he returns to London in 1970, alone, a stranger.

The story is based on the author’s own childhood, although essentially it is a work of fiction. Ian Hassall says, “This is a story that never really been told. White miners on the Northern Rhodesian Copperbelt were ordinary working people, many unskilled, who became the highest paid miners in the world. The British colonial system encouraged them to settle and lord it over the local Africans for a few decades, then expressed horror and allowed these societies to collapse. This was my community, with parallels in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, and I want to show it as it was, bring it alive, its vibrancy, warmth, cruelty, hypocrisy, and the pathos and necessity of its passing.”

Ian Hassall’s memoir explores racism and colonialism. However the emphasis is always on the story rather than the themes - the adventures of the narrator, in the moment, self mocking, exuberant, vulnerable, humorous and positive. This is also a study of childhood, and a celebration of youth which transcends time or location.

‘Hamba Gashle’ means both chameleon and take it easy, because of the animal’s leisurely pace. The book’s title reflects the author’s admiration for this wonderful creature and its attributes, some of which he required to survive his upbringing.

Hamba Gashle is available as an e-book from, Amazon.com, BN (Nook), Ibooks, Kobo, eBookit.com and other outlets. It is also in hard copy.

Ian Hassall is available for interviews.

Ian Hassall
Tel: 00 44 191 266 4990

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