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Born in Edinburgh, the second son of a Scottish soldier, Ian Mathie's contact with Africa began whilst still a baby, hearing the lions roar in nearby Corstorphine zoo during the early evening quiet before bedtime. Although the sound meant nothing at the time it was the foundation of a lifelong fascination with the dark continent which started in 1951.
Leaving his elder brother behind at school in Scotland, the family moved to Lusaka in Northern Rhodesia where his father was posted to serve with the Northern Rhodesia Regiment.
From the scrub beyond the barracks to the wilds of the Kafue Game Reserve, where the sound of roaring lions was instantly recognised, the African bush became his playground. Its peoples were a source of infinite fascination. His playmates were the sons and daughters of his father's askaris and children from nearby villages. Together they attended the same mission school a few miles outside the town. They all played African games and Ian grew to appreciate and understand Africa from within. The family made many excursions into the bush including one memorable visit to Shiwa N'gandu, the exotic home of Stewart 'Chipembele' Gore-Browne.
When the regiment was sent to Malaya to fight in the jungle, the family went too. Living in Penang, Ian attended a Chinese school in the mornings and spent afternoons playing Mah-Jongg with the Chinese women, hiding his winnings in a cracked teapot under the wall of the local Snake Temple for safe keeping.
On return from the Far East, Africa had to take something of a back seat for a few years as Ian was sent to a British boarding school, flying out to see his parents during the holidays. It was the era of independence and West Africa this time, with new languages, cultures and people for Ian to discover. But the bush was still a major attraction.
After school and a short service commission in the Royal Air Force as a pilot, defence cuts left Ian stuck on the ground with no prospect of further flying. He left the RAF and returned to Africa as a rural development officer, specialising in water resources and related projects which took him all over the continent. Later, he moved into the commercial field and spent two years running a high-tech irrigation company in the Middle East.
In 1982 he decided to change direction and returned to the UK to retrain. He spent the next twenty years as an industrial psychologist providing leading edge development programmes in the UK and Europe.
Ian now lives in south Warwickshire with his wife and dog.