We have published two out of three parts of a short memoir from Frank Baker about his time as a motorcycle-despatch rider based in Kilwa, German East Africa during World War I. The final instalment is scheduled to appear in the February-March 2009 issue of Old Africa magazine.

 For many people, taking the time to write down personal memories of their earlier life and compiling them into a memoir is a great way to make sense of the past. It helps to see where we’ve come from and the events that have shaped our lives. And it is a great gift to pass on to our children and grandchildren so they can understand what life was like in a previous era. Anthony Farnsworth did this when he wrote his book called Colonial Boy.

Here is a short excerpt remembering the family’s move to Dar-es-salaam in the 1948: “We were now settling down to a routine in the house. The camp seemed a long time ago now, although none of us would ever forget it. My mother had given all the grocery shops a good looking over before deciding to shop at one called ‘Economic Stores.’ You were served at a counter, of course, but the staff were polite and helpful and it was very well stocked…A lot of people had accounts with shops and paid one bill at the end of the month, but my mother decided to pay as she went. We were now into August and the weather was much cooler than when we arrived in February, probably the hottest month of the year…”  We will run the rest of this excerpt in our February-March 2009 magazine. But for those who want to read the rest of the book, Colonial Boy is available online from lulu.com  Cost is US$16.40 for a paperback book or $10.26 to download a copy to your computer.

 The technology for publishing Colonial Boy is called Print on Demand or P.O.D. Certain publishing companies will take your story and lay it out electronically and prepare it for publication. They charge the writer a fee for this service. But then they will print the book as people order it. Print on demand. It’s a decent way to get your story published in a nice format. If it doesn’t sell many copies, at least you have not wasted a lot of money and killed a lot of trees and ended up with a room piled high with unsold (and unread) books.  I used the P.O.D. format to publish my recent novel, Dust of Africa, about a boy who grows up in Africa, loves rugby and seeks to find his place in the world. In less than six months it has sold over 200 copies. That’s not very many, but I’ve earned back my investment and many of those who have read it are getting in touch and telling me how Dust of Africa has affected them and evoked powerful memories of their own years in Africa. Dust of Africa is not in bookshops. It’s only available online from dealers like amazon.com (See advert at the bottom of this page if you’d like to order a copy). 

As you enjoy reading other people’s memoirs, consider taking the time to record your own memories. Write them down and gather your old photos. Everyone’s story deserves to be heard – and read. If it doesn’t make it into the pages of Old Africa magazine, maybe you can have it published using print on demand technology.