Paul Hubbards’ next installment takes us to Shiwa N’gandu in northern Zambia.
Our prime goal in the area was Shiwa N’gandu, also known as Africa House. This is an approximation of an English Manor House built by Stewart Gore-Browne. Inspired by the beauty of the area, Gore-Brown was determined to establish a utopian state in the midst of Africa and in his hands, Shiwa grew into a vast enterprise, employing 1800 local people. He ruled with a benevolent paternalism and engaged in many agricultural experiments. His house was his passion and it is solidly built, with handmade roof tiles and bricks. The floor plan is rather eccentric and produces occasional feelings of claustrophobia. Many of the artefacts on display in the house range from West African (Benin) bronzes to Oriental China and English pewter ware watched over by African hunting trophies.
Gore-Browne was a key figure in the lead to Zambia’s Independence and mentored Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia. He was made a Grand Officer of the Companion of the Order of Freedom, the first such honour awarded in the country. Dying in 1967, Gore-Brown is perhaps the only white man in Africa to be given a state funeral. Kaunda said at his funeral that Gore-Brown “was born an Englishman and died a Zambian” (McIntyre 2008).
After 1967, the house and estate fell into a period of benign neglect although Gore-Brown’s descendants continue to own the property. Today the manor house and surrounding farm has been revived by the Harveys, grandchildren to Gore-Browne. As enticing as the whole story is, I feel much remains to be done to convert the property into a successful mixed tourism and agricultural concern, especially if you charge $350 a night. There is a lot of wildlife on the estate, including eland, zebra, impala and puku; the birdwatching is sublime.
Paul Hubbard : email@example.com