Rhotacism – mispronunciation of ‘r’

I was intrigued to discover that there is a condition called rhotacism – I assumed, having come across so many communities in East Africa where ‘r’ is pronounced as ‘l’ that it was more of a cultural issue than a speech challenge.

A quick search led me to this posting which clearly refutes my cultural take and gives an idea of how widespread (look at the list of related posts) the disorder/challenge is.

It’s not too much of an issue for people (silent) reading but it would be a challenge for someone trying to read their work at a writers’ group or other such gathering. I called a place by the wrong name for years as my first introduction to it had been by a group of people all suffering from rhotacism, or at least one person having suffered from it and teaching the others how to pronounce the word. This is particularly relevant to areas where education is not as developed or available as it is in the UK, the US and most of EUrope.

The outcome of this: I’ve learnt a new word and it’s good to know there are ways to overcome the affliction. Now to find a fiction book which mentions the word (search on Google books and you’ll be amazed at the number of books featuring rhotacism).

While I can’t think of any TSL author using rhotacisms, as it’s a common feature in Africa I thought I’d share some TSL Africa related books.

first published 4 February 2018, updated 2024


Somo ML Seimu appreciation

Somo ML Seimu

Seimu joined TSL as an author following his submission to There Came A Time 2 of two articles on the legacy of the First World War in Tanzania in relation to coffee and cotton production.

Having studied in the UK, Seimu is based in Moshi, Tanzania, where he is now a professor at the local agriculture college/university.

His monograph published by TSL on the history of co-operatives in Tanzania gives an insight into the trade of coffee and cotton in East Africa from the time of the German occupation of what is mainland Tanzania (Tanganyika) in the late 1890s through to 2013. Having spent many a week in Tanzania over a nine year period, and having a very fond spot for Moshi and Kilimanjaro in particular, as well as being a coffee drinker, the topic of this book really appealed to me. Reading the text was treading familiar ground with many of the places mentioned.

With a great interest in the Great War in Africa I also enjoyed discovering what men who had been involved in the First World War in East Africa did after the conflict – such as Charles Dundas; and to see how the local chiefs worked with and against the colonial and, later, the national government infrastructures.

This book should appeal to mainly readers interested in African economics and politics, although social historians should also find something of interest in it. And for coffee lovers – well, discovering what happens behind the scenes might make you appreciate that cuppa a little more… although we shouldn’t forget the role of cotton in the manufacture of clothing and other commodities.

Seimu has also co-authored with Marco Zoppi: “The Influence of Settlers’ Community in Shaping the Colonial Agricultural Marketing Policies in Tanzania”. African Economic History.


#Review – A Home on Vorster Street: A Memoir by Razina Theba

A Home on Vorster Street: A Memoir by Razina Theba caught my eye for some reason – I can’t remember how I discovered it but with mention of memoir, Fordsburg and Oriental Plaza, it became a ‘must read’.

It took a flight from Johannesburg to London via Nairobi and Amsterdam to read – although it was finished before touchdown in Amsterdam. So, a fairly quick read.

A collection of recollections of growing up in South Africa under apartheid and the impact on family and community life for someone of Indian heritage. This had been inspired by Razina’s son asking ‘who will remember me?’ Coming from a different South African population group, and of a similar age to Razina, it was a journey of discovery into another side of familiar places and experiences. A significant chunk of my early working career occurred in and near Fordsburg and one of my favourite sensory experiences was visiting the Oriental Plaza – not the crowds and noise, but the smells, tastes (of the very samoosas Razina disparages), colours and vibrancy – it was a world removed from the clinical towns and cities we moved around: The equivalent of Razina’s family visiting Johannesburg central business district.

This is a book written from the heart. While school experiences, juggling wider family expectations and religious diversity resonate across the cultural divide, it’s the detail that separates us. And at the end of the day, we all have the desire to be remembered.

As for the title, it’s the central home where grandparents resided keeping the family together – the space many of our oldest memories turn to, when we were young. 7a 6th Street and ‘the Plot’ being my equivalents: refuges and places of encounter and discovery. Home is where identity is formed and where we return to for comfort – at least those of us who were priviledged enough to grow up in loving and caring families. This comes through in Razina’s recollections.

For other experiences of home, the following TSL books might be of interest:


The influence of Africa …

Leslie Tate is to be thanked for this post as his interview with Kate Innes caught my eye…
It was the mention of Zimbabwe that drew me in, only to discover that Kate has South African links too. Although not explicitly discussed in connection with Kate’s books, she does mention the influence her experiences in Africa have had on her. It is a continent that draws one in and teaches much – if you care to listen.
Africa has had a huge influence on TSL too, with a number of our authors either living on the continent, or from there – writing a mix of local and global stories: novels, short stories and poetry, non-fiction…all come ‘out of Africa’.
Take a peak and see what grabs your interest… (and please, try and buy from the author direct or a little shop).


Bhupendra Brahmabhatt #author #fiction #Africa

About Bhupendra Brahmabhatt

Bhupendra (1952-2019) grew up in Kenya, East Africa, moving to the United Kingdom during the 1970s. He lived in Pinner, Middlesex and was a member of Harrow Writers’ Circle until it closedin 2019.

Bhupendra wrote for pleasure and pastime, sense of achievement, noting that doing something creative such as writing fiction takes one to another world which can be quite enjoyable.
His advice to aspiring authors is to maybe start with a short story – it can be difficult – but one could refer to personal experiences. Books are important for researching non-fiction and an inspiration for fiction.

Favourite authors include: PG Wodehouse for the humour, AJ Cronin for the poignant storytelling (though often tragic endings), Indian author RK NARAYAN who wrote one of his favourites made into a successful Indian film The Guide, Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim.
His best other reads are Uncle Dynamite by PG Wodehouse, Crusaders Tomb and the Citadel by Cronin.

Of Kenya Days, Moonlit Nights Bhupendra says his favourite bits include the jungle safari chapter, the real Africa, and some of the poetry and song which hopefully will be appreciated by readers.

Books by Bhupendra