Simon Kleinberg, a Zimbabwean rancher in Gwanda and his lifelong Matabele friend and ranch manager Jabulani Dlhiwayo, accidentally discover an ancient burial site containing a seven feet tall, gold-laden body on a hilltop. Some miles away lies an ancient gold mine and the Za-Hia Temple, a small exquisite replica of the Great Zimbabwe. Simon calls in two old friends, anthropologists David and Lily Norton, who discover the burial site is littered with well disguised graves. They realise that the unique finds answer in part, one of Africa’s most enduring mysteries – where and how the ancient nobility of the Great Zimbabwe Temple were buried. What remains is to determine the identities of the nobles and if the millions of acres of mountain terraces and thousands of ancient gold mines were their work too? To secretly undertake professional excavations on the Zaia Ranch they enlist the help of an anthropologist from Reading University Mallory Handscome and his two archaeologist sons. While Simon Kleinberg arranges for his two sons to assist with the investigation by returning from Britain, where they work for the family meat packing business, he learns from Mallory a fascinating secret concerning linkage between the Great Zimbabwe, Rhodes the empire builder and a modern building in the heart of London. A chance meeting at the Great Zimbabwe Temple with three Israeli students of Semitism, all soldiers, one a female tank instructor, results in more expert volunteers.
Whilst the team excavate the eleven royal burials, which yield pouches of raw gold, exquisitely worked bangles, necklaces, rods of office - and more questions than answers, Jabulani Dlhiwayo, a direct descendant of Shaka Zulu, spends his time trying to overcome the loss of his wife and family in the infamous Gukurahundi massacres. Childless Lily Norton is increasingly captivated by Simon while Nikolai Kleinberg, Simon’s son, is entranced by Tama Mizrahi an Israeli tank instructor, but frequently incensed by one of Mallory’s sons, an adopted lad who has designs of his own. The solid team becomes distracted by rivalry, jealousy and conflict.
Simon discovers that out of frustration towards the deliberately ignored history of his South African mother’s Lemba people, Mallory Handscome, son of an English missionary and African mother is writing a fictional account of the deliberate cover-up of their history. To his delight Mallory discovers Simon has also written a history of the Zaia ranch. The two men entertain the team in the evenings with excerpts from their manuscripts. Mallory’s epic saga begins with a fleet of Phoenician galleys wrecked by a cyclone in the Sabi river mouth and ends three thousand years later among descendants of the ancient temple builders, a modern Lemba family in the Nzhelele Hills of South Africa. Simon describes his Jewish father’s flight from Bulgaria and a history of his endeavours which culminated in a vast cattle ranch with its loyal workers and related business enterprises.
As they uncover the buried remains, the Zimbabwean Government turns on its own white commercial farmers who, twenty years earlier, after independence from Britain, were encouraged to remain there. As the farms and ranches fall like ninepins to the Government sponsored rampage, they get wind that corrupt government agents have learned of the finds from a jealous English academic and intend to target the ranch. Determined to protect the priceless proof of ancient Semitic North-African and Yemeni connections and the true history of the ancients who once ruled, the excavation team races to conceal the sarcophagi, remains, treasures and artefacts in an intriguing location on the ranch. Simon together with his sons, Jabulani and the Ndebele ranch staff (also cattle owners) are determined not to allow the Government led seizures to jeopardize their cattle. As the workers race to sell off the Kleinberg herds and spirit their own cattle home to their native reserves, Simon and his sons secretly fly some artefacts and family heirlooms out of the country in the ranch airplane. When the foreigners attempt to leave the country they are abducted. Romance, intrigue, military skills and a helping hand from the Mossad father of one of the Israeli girls saves part of the team from certain death. After committing a final shocking act of retribution Simon and his party flee the country leaving the solutions to the history of the Great Zimbabwe mystery hidden. As Mallory opens up and attempts to impart understanding to the team of the fascinating symbology and linkages between the Zimbabwe Temple cover-up and 30 St. Mary Axe, London’s most famous, modern, but secretive building in the heart of the financial district, better known as the Gherkin. Jabulani finally snaps over the Gukurahundi atrocities committed against his family and the loss of the ranch.
A final startling twist in the last chapter leaves the reader with what some will consider bizarre ideas – which offer an explanation of why the truth of Great Zimbabwe has been carefully concealed, and what true history may have been.