Daryl Sahli

Daryl Sahli was born in Bulawayo Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and attended Hillside Junior School and Gifford High School (‘Tech’). After completing A-levels, he, like all other young men at the time, was called up for national service. The bush war was raging as 163 intake arrived at Cranborne Barracks in Salisbury (Harare). Daryl, together with a hundred other hopefuls travelled to Llewellyn Barracks outside Bulawayo for the Officer Selection Board (OSBs) and was duly sent to the School of Infantry in Gwelo (Gweru) for training (Inf26/163(D)). After completing training he was posted to 4 Independent Company (RAR) based at Victoria Falls where he completed his national service.

Daryl completed a B.Comm LLB degree at the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and worked at both Ernst & Whinney (Young) and Arthur Anderson in Johannesburg. After immigrating to Australia, Daryl completed an LLM degree at the University of Queensland. Today Daryl works as a management consultant in his own practice in Brisbane. Daryl is married to Karen (nee Young, born in Ndola, Zambia) with two children Megan and Jason.

The Motivation for writing ‘A Skirmish in Africa’

As is to be expected, readers are interested to know the motivation for writing a book.  In my case it was a combination of things.  The most important driver was the need to try to educate my children on what it was like in Rhodesia during the war.  As with most immigrant children they aren’t necessarily interested in the history of their parents and the majority are unlikely to pick up a history book to find out more.  I decided that framing the ‘history’ in the form of a story might work better.  I can say that it has.  My daughter, in particular, who is now 19, has made some interesting observations.  The most telling for me was ‘you have lost your country and your roots!’  She enjoyed the book very much and, I guess, because of her age, she could identify with the young man in my story.

The sense of loss that I have felt since leaving Zimbabwe has haunted me for many years. Writing this book has helped me deal with this.

Another motivation is in fact that literature is the only way of preserving history and providing some perspective.  Both fiction and non-fiction have their place.  A number of historical accounts and biographies have been written on Rhodesia and Zimbabwe but relatively few novels.  There are so many interesting aspects of the war and the circumstances surrounding it that lend themselves to stories.  In my first book, I have focused more on the Soviet influence on Joshua Nkomo and ZIPRA.  It is generally understood that the Soviet involvement with ZIPRA was extensive but the depth of their interest was much greater that certainly I knew.  I have researched the subject extensively and have embodied this into one of my lead characters, Vladimir Benkov.  I have tried to balance the story so as to describe the thoughts and motivations for both sides of the conflict.  I have used a character, Tongerai Chabanga as a ZIPRA field commander, as a way of explaining the hardship and the pressure the freedom fighters endured.

We need to preserve our collective history, the good and the bad, for future generations. Literature is the key.  I hope to make a small contribution and I truly hope that others will be motivated to tell their stories too.