Shelby Tucker first went to East Africa in 1967 to visit his university friend Marios Ghikas who then farmed on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Marios’ grandfather had been one of the first of many Greeks to settle there. Anticipating nationalization, Marios invited Tucker to visit again to help him spend ‘the last banana’ of his ‘unremittable fortune’, and Tucker made 16 trips over the next 43 years.
Nyerere’s policy of returning land to the watu (people) destroyed the Greek community. Three stayed on: Marios was one.
In this absorbing and elegantly written book, Tucker recalls conditions in equatorial Africa before the European scramble for colonies. Tucker contrasts the moral force and fruits of the pioneer missionaries and explorers who brought Christianity to Africa with the triviality of modern travel and the surrealism of democracy and freedom expounded in Africa today.
Marios Ghikas died recently on 10 June 2012.