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   "SONGHOR - An African Saga"  by  Alexis Mantheakis


"SONGHOR - An African Saga"

by Alexis Mantheakis
(attended the Prince of Wales School - Rhodes House 1958-1963)
Image of Queen of the MaraSonghor 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 Songhor.

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 revolt. 

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 the deals. 

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.


Alexis Mantheakis 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 scipio@otenet.gr