By Nicholas Drayson
For three years, widower Mr Malik secretly loves Rose Mbikwa, chief of weekly chicken walks. Quiet Malik is extraordinary just for his cautious combover. Malik is decided to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt membership Ball (premier Kenyan social event), until eventually his university nemesis, flashy jokester Harry Khan, competes for Rose. A bet is determined.
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61 Gabonese women had also arrived at the Pool by the turn of the century. They lived with European and African men in a variety of arrangements, although they were generally lumped together under the rubric of 'prostitutes' in European reports, when they were not married under civil law or in the church. Gabonese women particularly sought out white men who could give them more support and status than African workers. Having been in touch with Europeans at Libreville and coastal factories, some had adopted European dress, had learned French cuisine and could organize the household of a white man.
The settlements on the north bank were famous, for they were a place where fortunes could made quite beyond the dreams of ordinary villagers. 23 The arrival of Europeans seemed to put all this in jeopardy. The traders of Mfoa were the first to lose out as the French made it their principal landing on the river; and by the turn of the century, concessionary companies had expelled others from prime spots along the river. Finally, the Tio were left with their settlement at Mpila on the edge of the colonial town, but many withdrew upriver or to their heartland on the Mbe plateau.
Former tirailleurs, who worked for the administration, like those from the Loango coast, had their own village on the edge of the Plateau. 93 Nor were the European houses much better constructed than those of African workers, especially those of administrators who, lacking the means to do otherwise, had to accommodate their life-style to local conditions. Administrator Bonchamps in a long report to his superiors in Libreville reluctantly agreed with Monseigneur Augouard, who had reported that Brazzaville administrators lived in 'hovels'.