Dear Heather, I finished your book yesterday. I was initially keen on reading the book because my Mum had told us hundreds of stories about Kenya and the family, and always we would refer to her many photograph albums so we had a vague idea of what it was all about in her young days. I have, since reading your book, learnt so much more about the actual settlers, about when and where they came from and went to, which has been wonderful, and also nearly made some sense of the large, intricate family ties.
I was utterly appalled at the way you were treated by the British Government, and then again at the occurrences in Angola. I remember Mum’s brother, Uncle Boyce (or Jim, as Mum called him) sending her horrifying books re the Mau Mau. I had nightmares that continued right into my mid thirties. I can only admire with absolute awe Ian’s and your resilience at the constant setbacks and tragedies you faced. I truly enjoyed sharing some of your journey with you. It also makes me sad that I know only Di and Marion (Aunt Iva and Uncle Boyce’s daughter) out of all my cousins. I did know and meet Marge “Harold” several times. Mum was especially fond of her, and I remember going to movies with her to see “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. I also have two black & white paintings by Marjorie Jenkins which I think Mum said were engagement or wedding gifts.
I hope my letter finds you happy and in good health, and thank you again for this very special gift from you, Dianne, and Lindsay. Much love, take care, Freddie (Dawn) Lahner, South Africa, 23rd May 2017
Dear Heather and Lindsay,
Last night I finished ‘Daisy’s Daughter, Our Lives for Africa’.
It is difficult for me to explain how much I enjoyed it. I cried when Stuart, Beryl and Ian died. I cried every time you lost one of your precious creatures. My heart ached every time you had to leave the establishments you worked so hard for. Yet I loved the honesty reflected in the relationships. The style of writing was so flexible and refreshing, as if the topic had just come to mind and you wanted to share the experience. Daisy was an amazing woman, and Heather, you more than make her what an amazing person you yourself have become. Her influence moulded you, and you never let her down. I so love the old values that you and Ian taught your families.
I also want to commend you for your research. Your interest in detail of names, types, dates, history etc., was awesome, and the way you explained the colloquialism for readers unfamiliar with the terms used. The geographical descriptions of the towns, veld, homes and even the trauma of the dust that enveloped you when in the convoy placed me right into the situations. I have never been to Angola or spent much time in Kenya, but I am familiar with most of the other places you mention. As your Reviewers have said, this is a most remarkable book and anyone who reads it, cannot but be richer for having done so.
There is so much in it, the people, animals, places, experiences that I can say in all honesty, that few people would have stuck with it for as long as you did. Your treatment of the people who came to work for you was exemplary. Living proof that blacks and whites can live beneficially together, if it weren’t for the power mongers of both sides.
I want to finish by saying this: Heather, I so admire how you researched the facts to exonerate your father. It appears that all the people who knew him confirmed that he was a man of complete integrity. I believe this is what matters. The honour you paid your mother, Daisy, is beautiful. The love and respect you had for Ian and your children, your friends and your staff, is exemplary. As for all the animals… and the countries you made your home, you are a beautiful Soul and if I could ever meet with you one day, I would be most honoured.
With love and admiration, Heather Anne Buret, South Africa, 5th June 2017
Dear Heather, I just wanted to say that I have read about 3/4 of the book and I cannot say when last I have read such an incredible true, fascinating and gripping story. The way you described everything in detail is amazing. You and your family have certainly lived a charmed life. Your tenacity and courage taking on all the challenges and disappointments that came your way, is quite unbelievable. Not to mention all the hard work you put into all your undertakings. You certainly did not let adversity get you down and you never gave up .I cannot emphasise how much I admire both you and Ian and your family - what was special about your book is that we have been to the White Highlands of Kenya, and also climbed Kilimanjaro in 1961, so I was able to follow you step by step!
Congrats again on your amazing and most interesting and informative book. I am so pleased we were able to meet you. The Rooken-Smiths certainly have the pioneering spirit in their veins! A brilliant African story well told! "Daisy's Daughter" is quite an exceptional story, and I am glad to know that my family plays a part in it as well!
With lots of love from, Chappie and Margaret Evens, South Africa, 12th June 2017
My dear Heather,
Hooray! Your book arrived, isn't that great!
The first thing I did was open the pages to the photographs, which made me shed a tear or two or several, for the past times and lost friends. Thank you so much Heather for writing it all.
I really enjoyed Daisy's Daughter, remembering things that you told me about the family (has Keith swallowed any little rhinos lately), I didn’t know that story, and learning many new ones. Such a rich childhood you had with such a large loving family. I remember the part about road construction, and having to avoid damaging certain sacred trees.
One of my first reactions was the wish that I had known William for his deep love of the country, obvious in his poem of the Aberdares. I marvelled at the way you had to cope with everyday life during the time of Mau Mau. I was then in Uganda and heard some of the awful tales of the atrocities.
Was it Daisy who liked to listen to David Dunlop on the V.O.K.? I remember his program "Safari with Shell" as well as his sundowner in the evening. He had a morning program too when his catchphrase would be - "Don't you DARE get back into bed again."
While I was reading I could be observed nodding and smiling and saying, "Yes, that IS how it was for me too."
I didn’t want your book to end!
With very much love from myself and from Freddie -
Your old friend, Maureen Moeton, Cyprus, 3rd July 2017
Dear Heather, I have finished reading your book and found it really fascinating. What a life you have had. It made me realise that Tom and I saw very little of Africa in the seven years we were there, even though we travelled as much as possible with 2 small children. We still talk a lot about Africa and our granddaughter loved her time at Cape Town University and she still goes there at least twice a year with her job. You and Ian went through some very difficult and sad times but also happy times and did it together. When you talk about the animals and your employees you show so much affection for them. You should be very proud of yourself for completing your book and providing so much information for future generations, so WELL DONE!
Marianne and Tom Evers, England XX, 14th August 2017
Heather and Lindsay, What a wonderful story. So full of heartbreak but also so much joy. Africa! One often wonders why one is here, but so often there is nowhere else like it. We really cannot get it out of our systems. I loved reading about your lives but so tragic about Stuart, Beryl and then Ian. I am sorry. Again thank you for sharing your lives with the world. We have been telling my parents to at least write notes about their memories, even if only for us and their grandchildren's benefit, though not all of us have it in us to write a memoir like you. My Dad, Norman, is 91. You might remember my Mum (Jeanine Verlaque) from the "Boma". She was born in 1932 so perhaps a year or two above you at school. Salaams, Jimmy (James) Brooks, Kenya, 18th August 2017
Dearest, Dearest Spirit and Soul of Heavens taken form as Heather here on earth!!! As you say… I speak from the heart. Goodness me… I reached the end of your book but clearly not the end of your adventures. Heather, I am lost for words, lost in the strength of your Spirit and resilience of your Soul and the imprint of Love that you leave on almost every living thing you encounter, and that now encompasses me and I am proud to be part of your life even if I have but read your story. It has left your imprint of Love upon me – truly. I want your energy to rub off on me too, please – can you send me some on the telepathic line? BUT I must add… you should issue a warning – must be read with box of tissues. Giggle! Ha! Ha! But seriously I did snivel my way through about half a box! I laughed with tears of joy and tears of sadness as your life lifted from the leaves of your book unfurling before me speaking to me. At some points I had to leave off for a few days to absorb and come to terms with the traumas and joys you, your forebears, all your family and friends past and present have experienced. It sings out too how your employees have also been blessed in the employment of you and your husband. I was making the Christmas cake the other day and kept thinking of the "hollow" eaten out. How tasty, who can resist mature "well fed" fruit cake? Not me!
It seems to me that there are people on this earth that are more in touch with their beginnings in the star dust of the universe than others and you are one, I know it, you know it too actually in your heart, I recognise it in you. You have touched my life in a most tender way. I would imagine it is the same with all who have read the book of your life. I have no living children as I never managed to carry full term but I remember each and every one of them. So I have always indulged my love by caring for creatures great and small. I sure would love a baby porcupine. One day perhaps... I can, in a small way, understand your exodus from one country to another as I was hostage in the first Gulf War as I was working in Kuwait at the time of the Iraqi invasion. Mmmmm I say now "fun times" as I only care to remember the camaraderie and the jokes we shared at the time as if I think of it seriously I crumple. Even after all these years. So I will end here by saying… WOW! Gal! What a life! It is my hope to meet you one day Heather even just to share a quiet sundowner on a veranda somewhere and just in the silence of knowing one another's soul. Have a great day today and give my love to one and all both human and animal. With much love Niki xxx Doyle, UK, 10th October 2017
"A wonderful human documentation of a white African family’s story of everyday life through the turbulent years of Independence in Africa. It has the makings of a very good film.”
Edward Webber, Thailand.
"Daisy’s Daughter is a poignant, personal story of a woman whose soul is embedded in Africa. Born and raised in Kenya, as a young bride she and her husband establish two farms, until political turmoil and unrest precipitate a move to the coast, where they establish a successful sport fishing business. The continually worsening political situation leads to a move from Kenya and after scouring Zimbabwe and South Africa for a suitable farm, they eventually purchase farming land in Angola. It is not long before their hopes and dreams are shattered, when civil war breaks out and forces thousands of people to flee the country. After dangerous travel via escorted convoy, the family arrives in Namibia and soon settle on a ranch, where over a number of years lives are rebuilt, although not without further personal loss and heartache along the way. This is a captivating, passionate story of an amazingly strong woman, who faces challenges head on, with courage and determination. Through her vivid descriptions of people, animals and environments, the sensuous, unpredictable and irregular heartbeat of Africa is palpable." Alison Liebenberg, Western Australia.
"It has been a privilege living alongside and growing up with the Griffin clan in Kenya." Henry Hauschild, Queensland, Australia
"I have cried and laughed and as I knew you all so well it has been wonderful to read, and so much like the life I led as a child and growing up and getting married here in Kenya. I just loved every minute of it. You are TOUGH, so many tragedies in your life, but what a great life you and your Mother had. Well done and congratulations. You must have had great pleasure putting it all down on paper." Anne Taylor, Kenya.
"I have really enjoyed reading 'Daisy's Daughter, Our Lives for Africa' - you are a very good writer, but you have also described your life and story very well and portrayed the life in Kenya and of Kenya farming people very well. I am still living that life and there are so many similarities even though it is now 2015. The daily life on the farm - going to town for supplies etc., the relationships with the farm / house staff and the pets and wild animals big and small. Your story is definitely the best version I’ve ever read of ordinary people in Kenya like us. 100 % spot on!" George Aggett, Kenya.
“I am truly impressed with Heather Rooken-Smith’s fascinating memoirs of her life in Africa which I find very interesting and highly evocative. Having spent my life in Africa where I knew, or knew of, most of the places and many of the people mentioned, the book comes like a window into the past, a past that is ever present in our minds. This book is sure to appeal to anyone who loves Africa. Well done Heather!" Joan Wedekind, Wales, UK.
"As I read 'Daisy's Daughter,' I was astounded at the intensity of your struggles, amazed at your resilience and heart-broken to read of your losses. You are so brave to re-live all of these by documenting them into a book. I read and re-read the chapters taking in different details which I may have missed. What an amazing story." Shirley Brown, New Zealand.
"Heather Rooken-Smith is a true child of Africa, her life well-spent from Kenya to Cape Town via Angola and Namibia, where she now, at 82, lives in the Caprivi Strip. This remarkable book, written over many years, is as much a personal history of her family as it is a true record of the upheavals, wars and change - much of it bloody, lots of it heart-rending - through which her mother, Daisy, and she lived and loved, farmed and travelled. As Heather did recently, in her little Toyota, from Cape Town to the Caprivi, which nestles between Botswana, Zambia and Namibia... after all, it's only 2500 kilometres. An amazing story written by an amazing woman.
Thank you for sending me the Angolan extracts from your book. What wonderful, image-filled, writing. Pathos, humour, bravery wrapped in text that I don't recall the news items of the time conveying. I look forward to seeing the printed version." Les Stephenson, Cape Town, South Africa
Many happy returns, I have just read the last chapter of your lovely book and realised that it was your birthday on Friday I hope you had a lovely day. Congratulations on your ebook which I finished reading today. I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter, it was an unusual experience reading an autobiography of someone I know relatively well. What a lovely gift for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren! Not only will your family appreciate reading your memories of your life in Africa, so will anyone who knows you or even those who have never met you but have lived in Africa.
I loved all your animal tales, you certainly have fostered an interesting, unusual and entertaining lot of African creatures! The chapters that had me stunned were the ones about your time in Angola and SWA. I had no idea you had such a torrid time! The way you all coped was incredible, especially Mary arriving in Angola with no prior experience of Africa, what a trooper! So sad that you lost two of your children so young. Sadly cigarettes shortened the lives of many of the dear men in our lives, Harold R-S, Dad and Dudley Kelbe all died within a few years of each other.
Mum and Dad were very fond of the Griffin and Rooken-Smith Clan, and credited Daisy "mum Griffin" with introducing them, I also have fond memories of "Granny Griffin" the nearest I had to a granny as a child. The best holiday memory I have as a child was the time you took Janet and me to Malindi (1960?) in your Chev panel van and we all stayed with Vi and Bertie Case, what a magical time that was, even here in Australia I buy Ouma's rusks and think of you and Ian every time I have one. I think you made your own rusks very successfully? Thank you for such a lovely adventure providing lifetime memories for me!
A special thank you for the privilege of reading your memories, you certainly have had an interesting life and have been remarkably adaptable and resilient. Your book helps me and others to recall our lives in Africa. Mingi love" Maureen Greathead Cremin, Australia
"My Dear Heather
Have just finished reading your book which I very much enjoyed and was really sorry to come to the end, what an interesting and varied life you have led but so sad a life as well. I am so pleased for you that you are now hopefully settled with your son and able to enjoy the well earned life in the peaceful surrounds of the Zambezi River with no more problems other than the monkeys who obviously do give you a bit of a hard time on occasions. The Vervet Monkeys at Amboseli were a perfect menace at the camping grounds and caused untold damage and even learnt how to unzip the tents to gain entry to the tents and the food. Although Australia doesn’t have Monkeys the Possums can be a bit of a nuisance and will pinch food right under your nose. This Letter will be a few days early, but comes to wish you a Very Happy Birthday on the 13th of November and Hope you will still have a lot more yet to come and they will be both Happy and peaceful. Salaams Mingi Sana" Ken Levet, Australia