‘Salt and Kalindula’ by Brian Crewe

It’s 1976 and Dick Phiri is bassist in Zambian acid rock band Durty Frogg about to fly to Paris to play the biggest gig of his career, when he gets word that his mother is seriously ill. During the ten-hour bus journey up the Tuta Road to Samfya, Dick reflects on his childhood, on the joy and madness of the Zamrock scene, and on national, and personal, liberation, its consequences and limitations. Dick arrives at his hometown in time to see the sunrise over Lake Bangweulu. I hate epiphanies, in fiction and in life, but the story ends simply and beautifully with Dick alone watching sky and water merge into one. I fetched up as a waitress and bouncer at an Irish pub in Lusaka the year after the Richmond incident and would serve Brian bottled stout between solo sets where he would entertain the late night crowd with stories and renditions of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut, Amanaz’s Khala, My Friend and, of course, The Parting Glass. It was refreshingly easy to keep the audience appreciative with only the very occasional use of a machete or a small sidearm: an innovation I imported from bingo nights in Batley.

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