The Leopard ‘Sleeps’ in Darkness

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After losing one of its best-known African sons of the soil to the Grim Reaper, Africa will never be the same again. Nkosi Wilbur Smith passed away after a long stint on the African tableland and shattered the hearts of millions who had seen, loved and cherished the African peninsula so lovingly described by him. Each Africa based book of his showcased a love for the land which was pure, wanted the best for the continent and always proved all consuming. The beauty of his writing united the different tribes, countries and thoughts of a continent, which had predominantly been dismissed as Dark. His writing dispelled that very darkness by etching visions of grandeur, and mesmerizing beauty while removing the covers of an undiscovered continent.

The Kalahari Desert, the Tableland, the Zambezi Valley, the jungles of Botswana, the Matabeleland, the Mashona, the wildlife and the wild flowers of the continent were brought centre stage by his pen in the most telling manner. The descriptions of a traditional elephant hunt, the coming of age of a young Zulu boy (by hunting a lion), the colonial swag, the wonderful waterfalls, the caring shown by leaders of animal packs (like the elephants, zebras, buffalos and deer) and the impact of humans was brought out in lyrical prose as sweet as the African folk songs sung around the campfire. His books on Africa also brought out the dark side of the continent by addressing issues like wild life poaching, apartheid, political imbroglios, tribal infighting and corruption. Singlehandedly, Wilbur Smith put Africa on the world map as a coy bride waiting to have her veil raised. And in his demise, Africa has lost one of her most loved sons.

 

Sleep well, Lobengula, “the one who drives like the wind,” keep your fire-stones beside you. We see you, but dimly, for our eyes are filled with tears of sorrow.

Shala gashle, stay in peace!

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