Fleeing persecution in Poland in 1879, a young Jewish family settle in England where two brothers begin work in a cigarette factory. After falling upon hard times they migrate to Ireland where the eldest brother is briefly accused of murder. Enduring poverty and scant support from their father after their mother dies, the brothers decide to take matters into their own hands and set sail for the mysterious continent of Africa. It was 1891 when Morris and David Langbourne, both young teenagers, arrived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. With neither family nor friends they decide to try their hand in the cigarette business, the only thing they new. They befriend Nguni, a large and well-muscled man of the Xhosa tribe, who leads them into the African bush to find a tobacco farming community and to offer protection from the dangers of wild animals that they never even knew existed. With the solid grounding their parents instilled in their upbringing, the boys learn to adapt and accept Africa's ways, her people and her cultures. With the help of a tobacco farmer they meet in the hinterland they discover more about the wonders of Africa's wildlife. But taking on a life filled with danger, mystery and strange customs is one thing; can they take on an international corporation and survive? Based on a true story.
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My late father and grandfather would relate stories to me about the two brothers in this book. They knew them personally, albeit my father being just a young boy at the time. Some of these stories were somewhat farfetched (as far as I was concerned) but I listened to them in awe all the same.
Some years after they had passed away I was relating one of these stories to my children, and they suggested I write a book about it, so I set about researching these events to see if they really did in fact happen – and the more I discovered, the more fascinated I became with Morris and David Langbourne’s life story.
Many of the events depicted in this book are true, and can be independently researched. There are some incidents that I obviously cannot verify, so I resorted to a little imagination to allow the story to flow in a way that I believe would have allowed certain known facts to eventuate. I hope my readers will forgive me for some of the inaccuracies.
I find it sad to think that a story of this magnitude could so easily have slipped into historical oblivion, and therefore it is my hope that this book will piece their stories together and bring their incredible life into the light of day for my readers to enjoy.