“ … only the poets of the First World War have captured so compellingly the many moods of the young soldiers”
—Prof Marcia Leveson (President English Academy of Southern Africa)
The soldier poet of southern Africa matches his haunting poetry with authentic photos, paintings and sketches to tell the story of the Rhodesian bush war. Echoes of an African War follows the story of the teenaged army recruit who exchanged his home and his family for the world of barrack life. It sketches the years, until 1973, when a low intensity war allowed a young man to explore the African bush. The story then bursts into the late 1970s when the conflict escalated into a vicious civil war.
It covers the war’s end, in 1980, and the subsequent readjustment to civilian life before finishing, in 1999, when, as a mature man, he looks back and remembers events that are now history. Most important of all, this work imparts to his children what it looked like to have been been a soldier in Rhodesia’s war. Chas Lotter has perfected the magic art of combining pathos and eeriness. His observations are canny and surgically precise as
he gradually unfolds his story.
Chas Lotter, the soldier poet of the Rhodesian war, had an unusual apprenticeship in the craft of poetry. Life began for him in Germiston, South Africa in 1949. His family moved to Rhodesia in 1953 and it was there that he grew up on farms in the Bindura and Gatooma (Kadoma) areas. He moved to Salisbury (Harare) in 1974 where he met his wife, Avril. As a field medic, Sergeant Lotter served for nine years with frontline units of the Rhodesian Army. It was these years of action, emotion and savage experience that fuelled the poet’s fire in him.
He started writing poetry “on the backs of cigarette boxes” in an attempt to deal with the realities of the war. From such humble beginnings emerged a series of vivid pictures of an African nation at war. Lotter’s work was first published in Peter Badcock’s volume, Shadows of War. Subsequently, he collaborated with Badcock on another successful work, Faces of War. In 1984, he published his highly acclaimed Rhodesian Soldier that blends photographs and verse to form a wide-ranging monograph of the Rhodesian war. His work has earned him membership of the English Academy of Southern Africa and his poetry has been published around the world. He lives in Pretoria, South Africa.