THE HORNS: Book One of the Zambezi Trilogy

Jill Baker

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION ADVENTURE BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA POLITICAL

    Core Theme

    PERSEVERANCE

    TIME PERIOD

    19th Century,Earlier 20th Century,1940s & '50s,1960s & '70s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THINGS FALL APART, PETALS OF BLOOD

    CHARACTER LIST

    JABU: TEENS-20S. LEAD. AMBITIOUS.

    CAROL: TEENS-20S. WHITE FRIEND OF JABU.

    PRUNE: TEENS-20S. BASTARD FRIEND OF JABU.

    THEMBA: TEENS-20S. FRIEND AND LATER FOE OF JABU.

    LALAN: 60S. PRUNE'S ADOPTED MOTHER.

    ANGUS: 50S. CAROL'S FATHER.

    Logline

    4 childhood friends - 1 European, 3 African - rediscover the colourful history of their land. Actual events overlaid with fiction develop of each character ... as they leave school, 1 is off Russia for military training, 1works with Prime Minister Ian Smith, 1 goes into business, and 1 into farming.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal,Other

    Setting

    Matebeleland to Rhodesia

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Vivid Publishing: Fontaine Publishing Group

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    Prologue establishes a mystery girl who dies in childbirth; chapters knit together the four friends as young children, then develop lives of each until they meet as school leavers to write final exams on the history of their country. Each shaped by circumstance, each seeing it differently.

    Ending Description

    One returns in the first group of fighters to cross the Rhodesian border determined to get rid of colonialism; the second is working with the Rhodesian government; ... the first is seen by two others running a rural trading store as they come in to buy food; the book ends as they phone the police.

    Group Specific

    Southern Africa; politics

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978 1 92584 637 9

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Rebellion Against 'The One',Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Jabu

    Age: 18

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Charming,Confident,Heroic,Leader,Visionary,Patriotic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Themba

    Age: 17

    Gender: Male

    Role: Logical

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Masculine,Modest,Charming,Confident,Patriotic,Selfless,Outspoken,Educated,Honorable,Leader

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Prune

    Age: 19

    Gender: Male

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Masculine,Adventurous,Charming,Engaging,Outspoken,Honorable,Underdog,Funny,Patriotic,Educated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Carol

    Age: 16

    Gender: Female

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Complex,Patriotic,Religious,Empathetic,Faithful,Educated,Honorable,Naive

    Development Pitch

    The Horns, is the first book in the Zambezi Trilogy. It tells a tale of the romance, adventure, aspirations and devastation of Rhodesia - a country sited between two large rivers - the Limpopo and Zambezi - with bountiful rain, a panoply of wildlife, rich chocolate-red soils - and rare natural resources. It is a story of the Matebele Kings as they establish their Kingdom across the Limpopo to escape the advancing Boers; of the much-debated Cecil Rhodes - a man of Empire certainly, builder and visionary, or manipulative grabber of wealth; of the settlement of Britain's last colony - and the short 75 years it was allowed, to move its indigenous people from a tribal society to a sophisticated western democracy; finally it is the story of a country - the second only to America - to declare its independence from Britain in exasperation The Horns is told through the eyes of four friends as, from many vested interest writings, they extricate the truths of their robust and colourful history. Their perspectives become more and more disparate until one leaves for military training to undo colonialism, one works with the colonial government, and the fates of the other two look bleak and uncertain. Book Two takes the characters and story from 1965 to Zimbabwe's independence in 1980; Book Three to whenever it is deemed right to end. Book Three will be co-written with a Zimbabwean African still living in the country.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, DRAMA, POLITICS

    Brief

    Four childhood friends, three Africans and one European, grow up amidst the growing political and racial turmoil of Rhodesia. Each of them has different origins, interests and chooses a separate path, but they manage to remain friends. As they become close and apart with the passing of time, some constitute families and develop successful careers. However, the political environment that surrounds them ends up putting one of them in a collision course with the others.

    Overall Rating

    EXCELLENT

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: EXCELLENT

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: EXCELLENT

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: EXCELLENT

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, it does, and also points out to the themes of future books in the trilogy.

    Draw of Story

    To be able to enter a history-based narrative I know nothing about, as well as the lives of four childhood friends entangled in the historical events that shook an African nation decades ago.

    Possible Drawbacks

    It didn't actually make me want to put the book down, because it is very interesting, but I felt some of the middle chapters that concentrate on historical facts could be better diluted in the general narrative.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The central decades-lasting friendship between the four central characters, and the fact that it develops amidst very real historical events, which is a great opportunity to get to know more about it.

    Fanbase Potential

    Yes, it could be very successful with the public, due to the great, well-developed characters and their complex relations, as well as the historical background that surrounds them.

    Awards Potential

    Yes, I do. If well developed, it could become an epic with great amounts of drama and historical importance.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    IT REMINDED ME OF THE ENGLISH PATIENT, AN EPIC MOVIE THAT ALSO INTERTWINES PERSONAL DRAMAS AND A LARGER HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN AN AFRICAN COUNTRY. IT ALSO BROUGHT TO MIND THE MOVIE TSOTSI, MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE ENVIRONMENT, SINCE THE FILM IS ENTIRELY DEVELOPED IN SOUTH AFRICA, WITH AN ENTIRE CAST OF SOUTH AFRICAN ACTORS, AND DISPLAYS THEMES SUCH AS PREJUDICE AND SOCIAL INSTABILITY.

    What’s New About the Story

    The story's originality comes from the relations between its central characters, and their relations with their country and its history. It is already very unique, and could gain even more depth if there were more parallels between the characters' personal dramas and the rich history of Rhodesia.

    Lead Characters

    The fact that they have very defined and rich personalities, that are at the same time very different one from another and very complementary.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It is indeed a rare gem, because of the details already presented here.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    Because the story is great, historically rich, and could constitute a solid, very entertaining and instructive audiovisual trilogy. Furthermore, stories about places relatively unknown to us tend to attract our attention, mainly because they seem exotic, and we feel like we're learning more about our world. The book is also very well written and makes clear that there is a competent work of deep historical research contained in its pages. On that matter, one of the few things that could be improved are the central chapters, that completely concentrate in historical facts and leave aside for a long while the narrative thread we had been following until then. While the history itself is very instigating and necessary for the book, the narrative could benefit from the addition of more drama and interpersonal development among the historical lectures presented. In a possible future adaptation, these historical facts could be told in a more visual manner, maybe even mixing bits of it with the story of the main characters along the general narrative.

    Brief

    Four childhood friends born in Africa at the beginning of the second world war discover the colorful history of their continent as well as their own bloodlines. Jabu, a grandchild of a powerful tribal chief, seeks to justify his own place in the family line against the background of Rhodesia’s move towards independence.

    What We Liked

    This is an interesting take on colonial African literature that is based on a true story and has a real life historical timeline of monumental world events in the background of close looks at the daily lives of four individuals.

    Film: As a film, this would be a beautiful biopic focusing on Jabu, his family's past legacy, and the trouble he finds himself in.

    TV: As a television show, this could be an interesting docuseries about the lives of these individuals as they face an increasingly changing world.

    Key points: Based on a true story; Historical fiction; Unique setting; Ensemble main cast; Political drama

    Synopsis

    A young pregnant African woman wanders into a clinic in Southern Rhodesia in 1939 and dies while giving birth. The woman who runs the clinic, Lalan, a white Scottish nurse, adopts the baby boy and affectionately nicknames him Prune. She chooses to share custody over the boy with a young native man and his wife so that Prune will be able to learn his own culture and heritage as well. Through his adoptive parents, Prune becomes childhood best friends with Carol, Themba, and Jabu.

    Carol is the young white daughter of Angus, who works with Jabu's father in governmental affairs representing Africans in their negotiations with Great Britain. Carol enjoys hanging out with Jabu and Prune, and even teaches the things she learns at school to Prune, until she is sent off to boarding school. At the boarding school, because of her friendship with Africans, Carol is bullied mercilessly by the other girls, and spends every day waiting until the holidays when she will finally be able to go back to see her family and friends.

    Jabu is the grandson of a great warlord chief and looks to follow in his family's footsteps. He goes through a traditional initiation into his tribe when he is twelve years old, taking a few days to wander through the African bush to prove his worth. He attempts to hunt a leopard while on his journey, but is prevented from doing so when a white man with a gun shoots the leopard instead. Jabu learns more about his family's legacy and begins to resent Prune for his illegitimate birth. At first, Jabu rarely tries at school, but after his father's urging he puts more effort into it and soon is able to take a higher education test. When Jabu sees Prune at the test, Jabu is embarrassed that someone as lower in stature as Prune is also taking the test and averts his eyes. Jabu takes a job working at a prison and befriends his white coworker, Aidan. Jabu does much more work than Aidan but is paid much less. This doesn't bother Jabu, but Aidan quits in an outrage at the inequality, and this causes Jabu to notice the different ways whites are treated in Rhodesia. He is confused by the contrasting goodwill between white and black at his grandfather’s first ever indigenous cattle sale.

    Prune gets a job working at a storefront, and while the owner of the store is kind to him, the son of the store owner resents Prune. Prune is a quick learner and gets promoted until he is in charge of bookkeeping for the store. Prune throws a party for Lalan, and the storekeeper even supplies some free drinks to help out. However, soon after, the storekeeper notices an error in the books, and fires Prune--the storekeeper's son had set Prune up to make it look as if Prune was stealing money, and Prune is unable to convince the shopkeeper otherwise. Prune is angry, but gets closer and closer to his adopted sister, Maura, and asks her for her hand in marriage. She agrees.

    Prune, Themba, Carol, and Jabu all join Carol's father, Angus, on a trip through Matabeleland. On this trip, Carol's father brings their history to life, while telling them all about the political changes happening on the continent. Angus accidentally lets it slip that Themba is the distant grandson of an enemy of Jabu's grandfather, and Jabu leaves, enraged. Prune opens his own store and marries Maura. Carol marries Simon, a crush of hers from back in her school days. Prune builds a store for Carol to run. Zimbabwe's Unilateral Declaration of Independence affects all of the character's lives in different ways--especially Jabu, who enlists as a soldier to support President Joshua Nkomo. The prison warden at the prison where Jabu worked suspected his nationalism and had spies placed on Jabu. Jabu leaves the country.

    One day, a group of soldiers from the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, a militant nationalist group seeking to eliminate minority white rule in Zimbabwe, arrive at Carol's store. Jabu is among them. Carol and Prune debate over what to do before Prune calls the police.

    About The Author

    Jill Baker spent her childhood in Matebeleland as the daughter of a man dedicated to early African education and Principal of three leading African schools. Her adult life on a farm was brought to an abrupt end with the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965 and she worked for the next 18 years as a journalist, news and documentary presenter and producer in television and radio.