Black Mongoose
147 pages
English

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147 pages
English

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Description

USuzwe is an African country rotten with corruption. Its rulers systematically pillage the economy, rob the charities and drain the aid budgets of gullible Western countries. However, a group of citizens rebel against the poverty, food shortages, bankrupt social services, disease and early deaths and plan to topple the regime within a week - and their unsuspecting instrument is ex-Royal Marine Commando Johnny Strowger.Johnny arrives in the Kingdom of USuzwe like any other tourist, intent on enjoying its palm-fringed beaches, game parks and beautiful girls. But when his brother mysteriously disappears, he finds himself the object of a huge police manhunt. Guided by Ephraim and the beautiful Lindiwe Dhlimani, Johnny begins to destroy the political snakes of Kisingo’s regime, but at a terrible price.

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Publié par
Date de parution 25 avril 2009
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781907461002
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

Paperbooks Ltd, 3rd Floor, Unicorn House London E1 6PJ info legend-paperbooks.co.uk www.paperbooks.co.uk
Contents Jon Haylett 2009
The right of Jon Haylett to be identified as the author of this work has be asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
ISBN 978-1-907461-00-2
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
Set in Times Printed by J. H. Haynes and Co. Ltd., Sparkford.
Cover designed by: EA Digital www.eadigital.co.uk
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
For Lizzie and Tom
Acknowledgements
I am deeply grateful for the technical help offered so generously by Cpl Duncan Stewart RM, Graeme Clarke of Sporting Services - www.sportingservices.co.uk - and Tim Steele.
I am also indebted to Lorna Read, my editor, who added pace to the book, to those who read various drafts and made so many helpful suggestions, to Tom Chalmers and the staff at PaperBooks, and, as always, to my wife, Gill, for her unfailing patience and support.
Black Mongoose Website
Much of this novel is based on fact.
For readers wishing to learn more of the background to events in the novel, there is an extensive website
www.black-mongoose.co.uk
which offers further information, photographs and links, as well as a regular blog, all of which we hope will enhance your enjoyment of this book.
One possible use of the website, which is organised chapter by chapter, is to refer to it after reading each chapter.
The Elephant Dance
They came in their thousands. They came from the coast people, their skin as pale as caramel because they were descended from the Arab slavers and the Somali who had drifted south over the centuries, or from the mysterious Austronesian seafarers borne across the ocean by the trade wind some two millennia ago. Darker-skinned dancers came from the highland forests in the west of the country, shorter, stockily built girls with black eyes, big breasts and lips like pin-cushions; and more came from the open savanna lands, tall girls with loose limbs, finely sculpted, Nilotic faces and fancy decorations that weighed down their earlobes. They came because they were commanded, because it was the tradition, because their mothers and grandmothers and sisters had come before them, women stretching back over long generations. They came in friendship groups, in circumcision groups, in age groups; they came by village and by town and by city district, smaller and larger groups depending on the region and population. Each year they came and, when they were summoned, they danced before their king.
For this dance, the Dunguntemba, the great Elephant Dance, they went naked but for a short, soft leather skirt dyed ox-blood red, and ankle straps that had taken months to prepare. The coast girls wore rare cowries from the deep-water channels through the reef, tiny shells that rattled as they danced; and the girls from the Lowabengwa river province had threaded semi precious stones, agates and obsidians and onyx polished to a shine; while the girls from the grassland plains wore garishly painted seed pods which hissed like angry snakes as they stamped their feet to the thunder of a hundred drums.
Leila and her friends, slender girls with high cheek-bones and almond-shaped eyes, wore beads, thousands of trade beads, each little bigger than a pinhead, which had been intricately worked into patterns that were the custom of her people: chevrons and diamonds, zig-zags and swirls, representations of the tribe s traditions and gods and the wild animals that wandered the bush lands of their home. And in Leila s year something quite new happened: two white girls danced, daughters of the contract managers in the diamond mines, but their ankle straps, set with precious stones, had been handcrafted at Chanel.
Each girl also carried a fly-whisk. These consisted of a short handle wonderfully carved by their father, or by their nearest male next of kin, made from a precious wood like ebony or, in the case of the coast girls, a rare dark wood that has sat buried for millennia in the mud of the deltas where it has turned as hard as stone. This handle, sometimes set with semi-precious stones, was a symbol that her guardian had given permission for his daughter to dance the elephant dance. Usually the whisk itself was made of the tail-hairs of a bull, often the father s finest bull, but, again, choice reflected the girl s regional tradition. Thus the girls from the savanna lands flicked the mane-hairs of a lion, perhaps a splendid black-maned beast a brother had killed with his spear, and the girls of the forest-lands whirled whisks of black and white tail-hairs plucked from a colobus monkey; and some of the more modern girls from the capital carried human hair dyed into a thousand colours, imported from Taiwan.
Black and brown and white together danced bare-breasted and proud, as custom and the King demanded, and their massed ranks, parading around the stock compound enclosed within the king s traditional palace at Gonwangombe, kicked up a dust that rose in mighty clouds thicker than the smoke from dry-season bushfires and, as they passed, the people who watched from grandstands specially built for the day raised a great roaring, like the rumble of distant thunder just before the rains break.
They came because it was the tradition, but also because one of their thousands, the one who found favour in the king s eyes and in the eyes of the Umkamkali, his senior mother, the one they call the Elephant Queen, would win a prize beyond all imagining. The mothers and grandmothers and sisters who had danced in years before had all seen a girl win this prize, had seen the King take her whisk and flick it in her face, had seen her seized by his courtiers and carried away shoulder-high to be dressed in cloth so soft and rich it flowed like water around the curves of her body. And they heard later how the King had lavished on her gifts beyond belief, jewellery in platinum and gold, a ring of Sandawana emeralds, a tiara designed by Asprey in London, an internet bank account with Credit Suisse, a 6 series BMWcoup , and a palace of her own with servants and a chauffeur and a fridge stocked with delicacies imported directly from Fortnum and Mason. In due time, they had watched her wed the King on television, on big plasma screens in the city bars and caf s; or on the older sets which flickered in those small town squares that had electricity; or they listened to the great ceremony on the radio, sitting round village fires that glowed like eyes amid the dark silences of forest and bush; or they heard it by the traditional manner, by whispered word of mouth, the story and the splendour exaggerated a hundred times in the telling. So they learned how the bride had been dressed in white silk, had worn a veil of finest tulle and shoes from Jimmy Choo, and how she had been conveyed to the King in a great, silent white car called a Silver Phantom.
Of course, not all could win this prize, but other fine prizes were promised, greater and smaller ones, many sponsored by local businesses. Some were as delicate and beautiful as a bracelet of Indian Ocean pearls, some as practical as a Timex watch, or as impractical - as far as most of the village girls were concerned - as a Bosch electronic washing machine. Leila won a prize, but her prize, a very precious prize, was to work for the King, so she did not return to her village after the festivities but moved to the capital. That s where she met my brother Mark.
Other girls won prizes of a different type of work and they didn t return to their villages because they found themselves in the service industries of Berlin, London or Rome.
And others still won prizes but didn t make it to any such exotic destination because their skulls were smashed with a knobkerrie and their brains beaten out across a white-tiled floor before any promise could be fulfilled.
Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
Acknowledgements
Black Mongoose Website
The Elephant Dance
Chapter 1 USuzwe
Chapter 2 The Shuffle of Tiny Genes
Chapter 3 Zanela
Chapter 4 Greed and Corruption
Chapter 5 Running
Chapter 6 Trapped
Chapter 7 The Ultimate Sanction
Chapter 8 Snipers
Chapter 9 Lindi
Chapter 10 On Ganot
Chapter 11 Cobra
Chapter 12 Puff Adder
Chapter 13 Ephraim s Office
Chapter 14 The Shooting Gallery
Chapter 15 The Elephant Dance
Chapter 16 Black Mamba
Chapter 1
USuzwe
I, too, came to the Elephant Dance. I came all the way from Caister, a sad little village on the Norfolk coast which the sea s been eating for years. I didn t come with the intention of dancing - you have to be female - nor could I attend as one of the King s guests - as only very exclusive, upper-crust, native-born USuzwans are invited. In part, I was allowed to witness it as a reward for a rather nasty, if quite straightforward, job I was doing; in part because my presence at the dance allowed me to finish the business. Either way, I believe I am the only Englishman ever to witness this historic event.
My activities in the country had rather upset some s

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