"In a remote corner of Africa stands a magnificent three storey pink bricked mansion, with a tower in the centre, a red tiled roof and a line of elegant arches supporting a first floor terrace from which a Union Jack flutters... Part Tuscan Manor, part English ancestral home, something one might find in Surrey or Berkshire belonging to a Duke or a Lord." - Christina Lamb, The Africa House.
This is truly a refreshing story of a man whose vision to transform an area of African wilderness into a working community actually happens.
The Shiwa Ng'andu Estate, an English Stately Home in remote Zambia
Stewart Gore-Browne, an eccentric English aristocrat, gave up a given career in the British Army to pursue his African dream. He selects his unique site in Northern Rhodesia (now modern day Zambia), befriends the local indigenous population and literally teaches them to build a small community under his direction, with its centre point being The Africa House. He builds Shiwa Ng'andu, the equivalent of an English stately home, set in its own landscaped grounds.
The immense struggle to clear the land, acquire materials (in many cases involving journeys of hundreds of miles) and then to teach fundamental construction skills to the local workers, including creating services such as water and electricity, were just a small part of the endless trials and tribulations Gore-Browne faced.
He relentlessly overcame all obstacles, year after year, as slowly Shiwa Ng'andu and many other buildings with all the necessary supporting infrastructure, grew up in this pristine wilderness land located many miles from the nearest functioning civilisation.
"Gore-Browne strives tirelessly to gain recognition for the black African in a time no African could sit side by side with a white man."
Such was the extent of the ingenuity shown by Gore-Browne that he even created his own brick factory using locally sourced clays. At one point he employed almost 1,000 workers to tackle this gargantuan task.
A complicated individual, Gore-Browne had an unusual relationship with several members of his family and became a kind of saint amongst many of the Africans whom he employed and lived with so harmoniously.
Gore-Browne worked tirelessly to gain recognition for the black African at a time when no African could sit side by side with a white man. This desire for equality saw Gore-Browne drawn into the political battle to see large parts of Africa returned to self-government and in so doing he became a great friend of Kenneth Kaunda, the first Prime Minister of the Zambia, when it gained independence.
Brilliantly researched and tastefully compiled, this biography is a credit to Christina Lamb.
Although a modest man, it is most likely Gore-Browne would have been proud to see this amazing life so well-documented in this aptly entitled book The Africa House where one man’s dream is made real by relentless guts and drive.
You can order your copy of The Africa House by Christina Lamb at www.amazon.com.
Do you want to visit Zambia's Shiwa Ng'andu?
Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions offer bespoke journeys to Zambia which can incorporate a stay at Gore-Browne's Shiwa Ng’andu Estate.
A 'Fly Zambia' itinerary could take in two nights at Gore-Browne's magnificent and truly unique Shiwa Ng'andu Estate. Built in 1921, this incredible English country estate is very much part of Zambia's history. Today the property has a number of running community initiatives and guests are treated to a wide variety of activities on offer.
Explore the house and gardens, or interact with the locals and see the community projects. Enjoy nature drives and game viewing on horseback or spend some quiet time fishing on the dam with your own fishing guide. Near to the property is David Livingstone's memorial (worth visiting if you have visited the mighty Victoria Falls earlier in your trip), as well as the Kapishya Hot Springs, perfect for a dip.
If you would like to arrange a trip to Zambia or for more information, please send your enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Sandgrouse office on: +44 1764 664 236.
Photos courtesy of the Shiwa Ng'andu Estate, Zambia.