Reflection on “Tembo’s Roar”

Iain Gow: Tembo’s Roar – A Spiritual Journey of Discovery

Reflection & Book Review by Beate Matthies

When I first saw the book, I felt immediately drawn to it. The compact size, the hard cover, the beautiful calming earth colours on the cover made me touch it almost with reverence. This is more than a book you read and put away. This is a book to last.

The cover picture as well as all the illustrations in the small book are done by Mark Rouse, and you can tell that the author and the illustrator are long-time friends.
The book cover depicts a lion: Tembo. This lion seems to be stopping on his journey and looking at us. He doesn’t look back nor does he look forward, he looks at us.
This lion is a grown-up lion, strong and with a big mane. This mane is blown to the side which shows that he is standing in a strong wind – but he is determined. He doesn’t seem to be bothered about the wind. His tail gives the signal to follow him.
Most capturing for me are the lion’s eyes: they look straight at us and seem to be sentimental, longing and sad. He doesn’t seem happy nor does he seem to be aggressive….

I think that this painting expresses all the book is about: being on a journey and having to face the vicissitudes of life – and yet being confident and not losing faith.

When I read Tembo’s story, I learned that this must be the moment of decision for him. He had finally found a safe haven and was asked to leave his comfort zone to stand up and fight for the sake of others.

We are social beings just like this lion. Even if we live in a safe bubble for a while, we are called to stand up for our friends, neighbours and maybe even the whole human family.

Each one of us has talents. We are asked to use them. There is the talent of being a friendly daughter, son or friend who reaches out to an older person or someone who is sick. There is the talent of a singer who sings songs to lift people’s spirit. There is the talent to call someone in the right moment and say the right words that give comfort and hope.

Tembo is a strong lion, and he has a mission in his life. A mission that he didn’t choose.
His father sacrificed his own life to prepare the path for Tembo.

Tembo’s life seems to be like many of us experience it: a very rocky life, full of challenges and sometimes hopeless – but then a sudden change happens. Happiness returns. Tembo’s life turns into a paradise. He forgets about his past and his mission but is happy to finally enjoy his life.
However, this paradise is to be challenged again. His mission calls him to be there for others.

Leaving his comfort zone, risking the beauty of this life that he had finally found and certainly deserved… Tembo has to take a hard decision. This is part of his spiritual journey.

A journey is not a straight trip from a certain starting point to a finishing line. The word “journey” embraces the French word “jour”, the day and all that comes with it: the sun rises, reaches its peak, might be covered by clouds and then goes down again. During the day there might be rain, hail, storms or sunshine.
A journey is linked to change: morning, day, evening…
In the creation story in the Book of Genesis (Gen 1:5) it says: God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Tembo’s journey starts even before he is born, and his life will touch generations of lions to come.

Sometimes our life seems to be a constant challenge. When it seems like it couldn’t get worse, we need to think of Tembo – and think of how we can touch other people’s lives.

Tembo’s story can be read as a fairy tale but as all fairy tales, this story has a deeper meaning that invites to be discovered.

The book “Tembo’s Roar” is one of those books that can accompany you through your own journey in life. You can read it at different stages of your life, and you will always discover something new and valuable for yourself.

A beautiful book: inspiring, easy to read and hard to forget.


The “Tembo’s Roar” can be purchased at $12.50 (NZD) plus postage. Please contact Iain Gow (

See also the pictures of a Botswana Lion in the Photo Gallery of this website: