A retelling of the journey undertaken by C.M. Doke and his father, the Reverend Joseph J. Doke, from South Africa to the area known as Lambaland in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1913 and of Doke's subsequent residence among the Lamba people during a seven-year period as a missionary. The text can be read on a number of levels. It offers first an accounting of the shaping influences on the life of C.M. Doke, ranging from William Carey (a distinguished ancestor) to the Reverend Frederick Arnot to M.K. Gandhi. Second, the book recounts the trials and successes of seven years of missionary life, providing glimpses into everyday life at Kafulafuta Mission in the second decade of this century. Finally, the book provides the reader with a window on the natural history of Lambaland, seen through the eyes of Clemet Doke. The story of Doke's trek is interesting in its own right, but the later prominance of C.M. Doke as the most distinguished language scholar on the African continent should make it of even greater interest. Doke went from Kafulafuta Mission to establish and head the Department of African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
During his tenure there, he developed and promoted a method of linguistic analysis and description of the African languages themselves rather than a forced fitting into European models. The "Dokean model" continues to be the dominant model of linguistic description in Southern and Central Africa today. The preparation of "Trekking in South-central Africa", based upon the travel diaries of Doke and his father, was the last major project undertaken by Doke in his retirement. It was privately printed and distributed by the South African Baptist Historical Society in 1975. It is published now to mark the centenary of Clement Doke's birth and to make it available to a wider audience: to the academic community familiar with Doke only as a distinguished linguist and ethnographer. The text is preceded by an introduction, written by R.K. Herbert, that contextualizes the missionary experience in Central Africa and seeks to disentangle missionary and colonial orders.
The introduction also provides further insight into how Doke's first encounter with the Lamba people shaped his advocacy for the rights of African students and staff during his period at the University of the Witwatersrand and his outspoken criticism of apartheid policy during his tenure as president of the South African Baptist Union in 1949-1950.