Douglas Rogers, Zimbabwean writer and author of The Last Resort, was at Nguni Ngwenya’s coffee terrace in Chisipite yesterday, signing copies of the latest edition of his book and chatting to a large gathering of book lovers and would-be writers.
A personal memoir, this story of ‘mischief and mayhem’ set in Drifters Backpackers’ Lodge near Christmas Pass just outside Mutare, is hugely popular in South Africa, Britain and Australia. Rogers has even received fan mail from readers in Indonesia.
Born in 1968, the author grew up in the edgy border town of Mutare, where his parents farmed chickens and later cultivated a vineyard. On retirement, at a time when Zimbabwe was a top tourist destination, they invested in Drifters. Douglas, however, had graduated in journalism from Rhodes University, and was ready to fly the coop to fulfil his ambition to ‘travel the world and live the sexy life of a travel writer.’
While covering a story in Berlin in April 2000, he heard news of the land invasions in Zimbabwe, and of the death of a farmer from Macheke. Fearing for his parents’ safety, he booked a flight to Harare and hitchhiked to Mutare. Arriving at the family home, he discovered an air of prosperity. A new fence surrounded the property, the house was clean of cobwebs, family photographs adorned the walls and ‘the house looked beautiful’. The unthinkable had occurred – Drifters had become a ‘brothel in the bush’ and there was even a thriving marijuana patch in the vegetable garden. Lyn and Rosalind Rogers, highly respected members of their community, were proving resilient in adversity. Forging new relationships they had developed an ability to survive, keeping their heads while all around others were losing theirs.
Here was the inspiration for The Last Resort, a dark comedy of resilience, humour, and the ability to survive in a country in turmoil. Douglas Rogers has sold the film rights of his story to the BBC, so if you haven’t read the book, you will soon thrill to every episode on TV.