When Reb was still a young boy two former Peace Corps volunteers came to visit the school he attended. Right there he made the decision that one day he too would be a Peace Corp volunteer and go to Africa.
Sixteen years on, as a newly qualified vet he was sent to Malawi, to the township of Thyolo, to begin his first tour as a Vet, in a country where the ancient and modern lived side by side and on any given day something unusual, frustrating, amazing and totally African could and often did happen!
His first introduction to the many aspects of the African culture came when a messenger from a small village some distance away arrived at the office to seek his help to save a litter of puppies. This was his first meeting with the amazing Dr Mzimba, a mystic and wise ‘witchdoctor’, who welcomed him to Africa saying he had been waiting for Dr Reb to come for sixteen years.
And so Dr Reb’s many adventures and experiences began with the saving of sadly only two of the six puppies, both of whom where to one day go on to save his life.
Each of the stories present another charming, often funny, occasionally frustrating but always enjoyable aspect of life in a country which is as colourful as it is shrouded in superstition, magic and mayhem, all told with obvious affection for the people and the culture he grew to love and of which he became a respected member.
His respect for Dr Mzimba, his love and understanding for the local bar girls who became like sisters to him, his confronting and accepting the strange and dysfunctional relationship Doctors Dr Dave and Dr Dan Inabadawe , one who used all the aspects of ‘magic’ and the other who did not, his efforts to help educate as AIDS was becoming a killer virus throughout the country and the immensely quirky, completely African manner of setting out to build the new cattle dipping tanks and housing at the Ngola site, jostle amongst the many tales ripe for the telling.
No matter which chapter you read there is a deep respect apparent for the people, the hard struggle of life on a daily basis, the compelling blend of all the aspects that make up a culture and lifestyle that is to be respected.
Dr Reb, has a wonderful turn of phrase as he brings to life the many, many people he met, learned from, shared their lives, whom together helped him ‘come of age’ in a country where nothing is as it seems with the old and new way of life rubbing shoulders every day.
Touching, funny, enjoyable and often poignant this is a heart-warming look at life where a kindness can make a huge difference and very little is expected from life.
A book which will remain long in your memory and each time remembered, bring a smile to your face.