Some South Africans clearly remember the increasing difficulties of life in their country as the World focused, in the seventies and eighties, on bringing the Apartheid regime to its knees by, among other methods, increasingly throttling sanctions.
Both the sanctions and the resistance thereto impacted on both the Haves and the Have-nots. Besides the tightening of belts, heightened security and stringent racial controls, there was innovation and invention.
A view through white eyes during that time expressed now is of course blatantly non-PC. However, it is historic. There is also no doubt that a certain feeling of guilt for their privilege was at the time, if not blossoming, beginning to bud.
Communism was the bogeyman of the day, and a tool of good use by the burgeoning Black Resistance. My novel, written in the ’70s but finally seeing light of day in 2008, THE BARROS PAWNS, reflects this unease at the imbalance of justice, as well as the feeling of threat and the security methods used to counter the Communist advances. Only a thriller novel of adventure and the efforts by various ruthless interested parties to manoeuvre the struggle of Frelimo in Mozambique to shed the yoke of Portuguese colonial control, the background, nevertheless, is a reasonable reflection of the times.
French historian, Dr René Pélissier, had this to say about THE BARROS PAWNS:
…We have in hand a late testimony on the Wagnerian twilight of Portuguese colonization in Mozambique in 1974, little before and after the 25th of April. We are under the impression the author of “The Barros Pawns” is not only inspired by Jorge Jardim, but he has visited him or has been close to him, at least at the end of his golden age.
In any case, the author probably lived in Central Mozambique at that time (early 1970’s), as he reveals himself to be an expert on the Rhodesian and South African Secret Services, as well as on the shady world of mercenaries which some rich (or super-rich) colonists of the Extreme Right want or wanted to recruit in order to save their interests against the MFA and the FRELIMO. One does not improvise to be a specialist of the aviation club of Beira, not without having known the place and Jorge Jardims’ parachute girls, at the time they were illustrated in magazines.
The incredibly complicated story of a band of mercenaries, who are killing one another due to lacking leadership, the invented episodes by the author etc, are all less essential in comparison to the realistic description given of the “end-of-era” sentiment, which reigns in the Portuguese army in 1974.There is no consideration for its army’s martial qualities (except when in the commandos), any more than it admires the settlers’ indecision, divided between its generations. No matter what it is, it is a book which subscribes itself under a series of relatively old fictions in English on Central Mozambique and even on Zambezie. The unforeseen heritage of Livingstone? Perhaps not, but certainly that of the Company of Mozambique, without any doubt.
Translated from the French by Ximena Maartense. (Bold emphasis by me.)
For the record, I had heard of Jorge Jardim, and indeed, as a skydiver, of his adventurous and beautiful daughters, who sparked my imagination, but my characters actions bear no resemblance to those of that family.
The Softcover edition of The Barros Pawns is currently out of print, but the eBook is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5RYRBC/