Four children alone in the Amazon Rain forest

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Children's Stories, Climate change, Dust and Rain, Journey, Zambia3 Comments

There was good news. Four children had survived a plane crash and 40 days wandering in the Amazon jungle.They were children who had knowledge and experience of nature but they were weak and hungry when they were found. This is a profound lesson for all humans. We are human animals. We are part of nature and our survival depends on understanding and working with nature. We can learn from these children. They are Lesly ,13, Soleiny, 9, Tien, 4, and Cristin, 1

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A bad Mother and an African village

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Creative Writing, Memoir, Short Stories2 Comments


The media are currently running stories about victims of poor parenting. Everyone has had mothers and fathers and was parented somehow by somebody. We know ourselves through understanding our families and parents. Unquestionably there are children who are victims and who have suffered, but there are also those who survive enormous difficulties and who still manage to forgive and love and built valuable relationships with people who failed as parents.

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A migrant story

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, DisplacementLeave a Comment

Back door work entrance

This is a story about doors and wages and a migrant. It ends with a death. A migrant is a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions. Who has never or not done that?

Long ago at the start of things

It was 1973. Mike and I had been one year in Siavonga, Zambia, and a bit of a year in Lusaka. Zambia was just entering its 9th. year as a new Republic. We went there to improve our financial situation. Everything was changing – everything was going to be different, but we had no idea how that would manifest itself. I had been 6 years in London ,but had grown up in apartheid South Africa and rural Rhodesia. I knew very little about Zambia and my radical political idealism was only theory– not yet put it into practice. I had much to discover and learn and what would Zambia teach me?

Another back door?
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The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Ruth HartleyColonialism, Displacement, Family, Migration, Politics, Race, Racism, Southern Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe2 Comments

New Year in another country

A young Zimbabwean woman tilts her head and smiles at the camera

Petina Gappah – photograph from the Guardian interview

On New Year’s Day we fled from France across the snow-covered Pyrenees pursued by stormy winds and heavy rain. There we wandered along empty twisting roads among ruined and isolated stone villages and ancient monasteries in the  brutal mountains of Spanish Aragon. In our hotel room the television showed no news and told no stories so we were free to lie down in silence and read the books we unpacked from our suitcases. John was reading Lost History, a book about the culture and science of Islam. I was reading Petina Gappah‘s The Book of Memory, published by Faber and Faber and long-listed for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction. I was soon so absorbed into the story that I couldn’t put the book down and we were almost too late to get supper. In Spain supper goes on so late that missing it is nearly impossible. It’s an indication of how much I was enjoying The Book of Memory Read More and Comment …

Chinongwa Reviewed

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Book Launch, Colonialism, History, Reading, Writing Process, ZimbabweLeave a Comment

Chinongwa by Lucy Mushita is a timeless story. It is beautifully written and an easy fluent read.

An extraordinary book

This is quite a statement to make about the story of a skinny, snotty nine-year-old girl child called Chinongwa who lives in a remote village in Zimbabwe as her family become subject to colonialism in the early 1900s. Fundamentally, however, all of us experience significant relationships in the same way as each other no matter who we are or where we live. What Lucy Mushita’s Chinongwa does is add a whole new world and dimension in which we can understand both Chinongwa, her situation and ourselves much better.

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