Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

termite moundWhen Robyn Scott was six years old her parents abruptly exchanged the tranquil pastures of New Zealand for a converted cowshed in the wilds of Botswana, where their three small children grew up collecting snakes, canoeing with crocodiles and breaking in horses in the veld.

Falling in love with the country where Robyn’s eccentric grandfather had served as pilot to Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first beloved president, her parents at once set off in his pioneering and unconventional footsteps. This is the story of the family’s fifteen years in Botswana, during which Linda Scott haphazardly and single-handedly homeschooled her three children – each eccentric characters in their own right – while her husband, Keith, ran a flying doctor practice and attempted, with erratic success, to adapt his experience to the unique demands of a rural practice and the growing burden of AIDS.

A funny and unsentimental account of a childhood where dissecting a snake was the closest Robyn, Damien and Lulu came to a biology lesson, and children from the cattle posts were their only classmates, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is also a unique insight into modern Botswana. Set against the backdrop of one of Africa’s rare democratic success stories battling with one of the continent’s worst AIDS crises, the book remains throughout an uplifting, engaging and deeply affectionate portrayal of an extraordinary place and family.