"SONGHOR - An African Saga"by Alexis Mantheakis
(attended the Prince of Wales School -
Rhodes House 1958-1963)
is an African story of steamy love affairs, encounters with big game, great
fortunes made and lost, deep friendships between people on opposite sides, of
the unravelling of the dramas and triumphs of the Makris family against a
backdrop of wars, revolutions and social change in three continents.
Manoli Makris, a 14 year-old stowaway from a
mountain village in Crete arrives in turn-of-the-century colonial German East
Africa after a clash with a domineering wealthy Greek merchant uncle in
Mogadishu. Working on the new railway to the interior and accompanying foot
safaris for a few years he finds himself in his mid-twenties with a large
fortune that will make him the most eligible bachelor in the colony.
In the small, seemingly sleepy, tropical town of
Tanga European social life revolves around the Africa Hotel, located among
coconut trees on a bluff overlooking Tanga Bay. The hotel front terrace is the
gathering place of the local German aristocracy, their families, English and
Boer professional hunters, rubber and sisal planters, gold prospectors, Imperial
civil servants and a few villains. An illegal backroom gambling den is to play a
decisive role after Manoli meets blonde Andrea von K, the stunning daughter of
an impoverished German count and countess running a small hotel in the Usambara
mountains. Andrea, though, has a dark and hidden passion.
The First World War sees changes in Tanga and
the colony. Manoli finds himself in the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna in Asia
Minor, seeking business opportunities and a place to settle. Unknowingly, he has
stepped into the lionís den.
In Tanganyika, now a British colony, Manoliís
life is again about to change when he hires a new plantation manager, a distant
relative, who arrives from the agricultural town of Modesto in California with
his wife and their beautiful and mature 17 year-old daughter Tina.
Tina is to play a pivotal role in the saga of
In Kenya, near Lake Victoria, Manoli establishes
a vast plantation at Songhor, which becomes the centre of his expanding business
empire. When Tinaís wealthy widowed sister Marina arrives in Nairobi from Los
Angeles she meets a dashing Italian nobleman, Romano, a notorious fortune
hunter. A shocking turn of events at a family dinner turns Marinaís world on its
head and puts the colonyís sexually-liberated English ex-pat upper-class Happy
Valley Set once more at the centre of a world scandal.
Manoli misses a warning sign as African
discontent with British rule breaks out with the initiation of the Mau Mau
Manoliís son, Alexander, who attends the Prince
of Wales School in Nairobi, is in London four years after the events at Songhor
when there is a knock at his front door in Chelsea. A mystery African visitor
from Nandi Hills makes him a proposal that promises to change the history of
Kenya and Uganda, where political instability has started to set in. The story
follows him into the shady world of arms dealers, secretive bankers, offshore
tax havens and the premises of weapons manufacturers in Britain, France and
Moscow who supply warring factions in Africa, and the politicians who facilitate
A new saga chapter for the third generation of
the Makris dynasty opens up when Manoliís son confronts an assassin sent by a
European rival, Wilkinson.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
was born in Tanga in Tanzania and grew up in Kenya. He was in Rhodes House at
the Prince of Wales School and studied English Literature and Creative Writing
at Stanford and worked in films and television in London and in Greece. He has
written articles for numerous publications, including Vanity Fair (Italia) and
Esquire, and has been interviewed by CNN, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the
BBC, NBC, Playboy, the History Channel, Point de Vue, USA Today, People
magazine, Al Jazeera and others.
SONGHOR: An African Saga
is his third book.
His other books are CRETANS Stories of
a Beach, a humorous and biting memoir of a native son returning to the
island of his ancestors (2012), and ATHINA ONASSIS In the Eye of the Storm,
the inside story of the reclusive last surviving member of the Onassis shipping
dynasty (2003). Both books became bestsellers.
Alexis Mantheakis lives outside Athens with his
wife, a successful Greek writer of historical novels published in Greece and
Germany, and his journalist daughter.
He can be contacted at