On the Banks of the Zambezi

On the Banks of the Zambezi, a novel based on a true story, captures the factual experience of those who lived through a pioneering, daring, dangerous, and eventually futile effort to carve out a living in the undeveloped interior of Africa during the Portuguese colonial war, a turbulent period of history which led, in the mid 1970s, to the independence of five separate African nations.

The book portrays, through the eyes of a white child whose parents settle in the interior of Mozambique to run a general store catering to the local Chisena people, a family’s struggle to survive, only to have their lifestyle destroyed by forces beyond their control. The experience of growing up white in a remote black environment is portrayed vividly, as is the primitive life of the locals, the disparity of opportunities for the white settlers compared to the native blacks, and the build-up of war from a rumble to a tragic reality. 

Along the way, On the Banks of the Zambezi depicts the transition from a colonial war led by the distant Portuguese government to an equally senseless and vicious civil war within the newly independent Mozambique, and the toll on the lives of all residents of the new nation. The book is a story of life, death and survival in the midst of hatred and adversity by whites and blacks alike. On the Banks of the Zambezi is a tale that will appeal to anyone who has survived the adversity of war or has experienced life outside the main stream, and especially to anyone with a passion for Africa and its history.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Title: On the Banks of the Zambezi
Author: J. A. Lourenco
Category: Historical Fiction (almost a Memoir!)
Words: 78,000 (approx)

eBook available:

    - for Kindle:

    - for iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo and online reading:

Print Book (300 pages) available:

    - at

    - Book can also be ordered at most bookstores - please ask and place an order.


What Readers Are Saying....


“On the Banks of the Zambezi certainly delivers on its promise to convey the experience of Portuguese settlers in Mozambique at the time communist rebels were overthrowing Salazar's oppressive colonial regime.  In so doing, J.A. Lourenco offers a compelling narrative focused on an individual family from the point of view of their daughter.  It is thus at once a remarkably even-handed treatment of a highly-charged political subject and quite a credible coming-of-age narrative.   … The book's style is neither excessively ornamental nor tediously straightforward.  Among the novel's more "universal" themes are those dealing with personal and political anxieties over the uncertain future, racial tensions and social constraints imposed on immigrants, as well as living conditions for both whites and blacks in sub-Saharan Africa.  Lourenco's descriptions also successfully convey an immediate sense of the African landscape.” - Prof. Richard Larschan, English Department, Univ. Massachusetts, Dartmouth

"Very moving, very tragic... beautiful, horrifying tale... all sympathy for the courageous, hardworking family here... beautiful images of the frontier life… Excellent book!" - Sanjay Mathur, Amazon reader

"An excellent contrast to Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Both describe life in Africa from the viewpoint of white people, but On the Banks of the Zambezi does not project a condescending attitude towards the native blacks or a pretentious self-importance of the white narrator. It is a factual, wonderful narrative of struggle by all, goodness by all, savagery by all. This is a wonderful read, unsettling but gripping." - Chris Maciel, High School teacher