Oriane Lee Johnston

The Geography of Belonging: A Love Story of Horses and Africa

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An unexpected liaison with an African horseman builds a courageous and tender bridge across classic cultural divides. The backdrop is present-day Zimbabwe in all its political, economic and ecological complexities. Oriane Lee Johnston’s memoir takes the reader from her island home on the west coast of Canada into southern Africa as it is today, exploring ethical relations with land, with culture, the sacred and the human heart.The story follows an inner call to the Mavuradonha Mountains in the eastern edge of the Zambezi Escarpment. The quest to preserve this wild and unspoiled bioregion parallels the campaign to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, the author’s birthplace in coastal BC.

Horses are the wise guides, drawing Oriane Lee to Africa, giving her a purpose and a way of engaging deeply with people and wild places. A trusted ally throughout is a Buddhist meditation practice that rouses courage, compassion and openness to the unknown in her grandmotherly time of life.

The love story with Stephen Hambani is a luminous thread that weaves an inadvertent testament to Black Lives Matter.

The Geography of Belonging is about longing and loss, commitment and impermanence, about the ethics of generosity and raises questions of identity for a 6th generation Canadian as she maps an intimate journey through the terrain of the heart, the body and the earth.