The remarkable story of the Langbourne brothers is picked up in 1893.
Morris, just 17, makes the bold and risky decision to head north, deeper into Africa. Morris and his younger brother David thus embark on a new adventure - to set up business as traders. After walking through the African bush for three months with six wagons laden with goods, and hardly a track to guide them, Morris and David stop in the settlement of KoBulawayo and build their first warehouse out of wooden poles and mud.
Realising a radical change in plan is needed, Morris devises a new business strategy that propels them towards success. A political impasse rapidly develops between the European Administration, and the ruthless King Lobengula's massive Ndebele army. A brief and savage war erupts between the two powers; the brother's business is unavoidably affected, and David is hunted by the Ndebele army when he tries to rescue a friend.
Undaunted, but wiser to the perils of Africa, Morris sets his mind to recover their pride, their reputation, and business.
Based on a true story and actual events.
The Sample Room
In Chapter Four, I went into some detail of how Morris and David built their Sample Room. I was able to do this because of an old photo I have in my possession. On the back of the photo, written in pencil, is the date ‘1893’.
It has been photoshopped to enhance the quality.
Map Featured in 'Langbourne's Rebellion
About 30 years ago I got in my faithful old light-blue Datsun 120Y and went on a road trip with my best friend, Martin, exploring Zimbabwe. At one stage we ended up driving out to the Matopos Hills, just outside Bulawayo.
The Matopos Hills is a vast area of massive granite boulders, and as we wove our way through this amazing part of the country, we pulled over to eat a sandwich and knock back a warm, but very welcome, Coke-a-Cola.
I had done some of my Police training in this area, and Martin and I were discussing some of the history about the Matopos that we had learnt at school, (and some of the highs and lows of my training – more lows than highs I might add!) and for some reason, and I remember it well, Martin said he would love to find a place in the Matopos that had never ever been touched by a human before. We both stared at the massive granite outcrop in front of us in silence, and then as if reading each other’s minds, Martin simply said, “let’s go”.
We climbed to the very top of the outcrop and looked at the magnificent view; eagles were soaring below us! As a token of our respect for the magnificent Matopos Hills, and for its incredible historical past, we placed some coins under a rock, and silently left, vowing one day to return.
That day is yet to happen.
That place is our Nomandudwane.
Lobengula Khumalo was the king of the Matabele (or Ndebele) nation. He was born in 1845, and came to power in 1865, succeeding his father, Mzlikazi, a brutal and very feared warrior. In early 1894 Lobengula died, but much controversy reigned about the whereabouts of his remains.
King Lobengula was a very large man, appearing somewhat overweight and softly spoken, but woe betide any of his subjects who crossed him or showed cowardice, disobedience or disrespect – the punishment of death was swiftly executed and often involving very large numbers.
The king signed a concession in 1888 with Mr Charles Rudd (known as The Rudd Concession) despite his fear that he was being used by Mr Cecil John Rhodes, on behalf of England, who he feared had designs on his country. This is recorded by a famous statement by King Lobengula thus:
* "Did you ever see a chameleon catch a fly? The chameleon gets behind the fly and remains motionless for some time, then he advances very slowly and gently, first putting forward one leg and then the other. At last, when well within reach, he darts his tongue and the fly disappears. England is the chameleon and I am that fly."
Lobengula gave his word that he would not harm any European settler, and although his army rebelled and engaged the BSAC forces just before Lobengula fled his royal village, he let it be known that he stood by his honour and never ordered an attack on the Europeans.
(More information can be found on Wikipedia and other historical sources.)
Picture of King Lobengula of the Matabele; by Ralph Peacock, based on a sketch by E. A. Maund. Published by Rhodesian National Archives c1950.
*Quote from King Lobengula Atributed to Neil Parsons: A New History of Southern Africa. Second Edition. Macmillan Press, London, 1993
Bulawayo - Then and Now
For those readers who are interested in a little history of the town of Bulawayo, where the majority of 'Langbourne's Rebellion' is set, I recommend a visit to 'Bulawayo Memories', a website put together by a gentleman called Adrian, who is gathering old photos and memorabilia of Bulawayo, as it was in the late 1800s, and as it is today.
The site is well worth the visit.
Our thanks to Adrian for developing this valuable site.
Acknowlegements for 'Langbourne's Rebellion'
Once again I acknowledge and thank Scarlett Rugers for her design and layout of this, my second book – a wonderful lady to deal with. I would be lost without her.
I also acknowledge the relatives and friends of the Langbourne family, whose memories of the brothers, and their history, allowed me to write both ‘Langbourne’ and ‘Rebellion’.
My best friend, Martin Robinson, who I grew up with in Africa, I give many thanks for his valuable advice and feedback as the book progressed. For this I am extremely grateful. I thank another good friend, Phil Ineson, for his technical advice on the weapons used in the story.
My sincere thanks to Cindy Kramer for her editing, suggestions and guidance, always reassuring and constantly there for me. I’d also like to thank Wendy Meyer for casting a vital ‘old school’ eye over my work, and to John Landau and William and Cherie Cadwallender for their comments on the manuscript.
A very special thanks to my partner, Sharon De Bruyn, for her undying encouragement, enthusiasm, feedback and suggestions, and for following me around Southern and Central Africa whilst I researched some of the history behind the story.
Finally, and most importantly, my thanks to my readers. I truly hope you enjoyed the story.