Between the furrows
Where are they now?
John McCleary Beattie - John aka ‘Jock’ says “I Left Gwebi in 1964 and I was in Course 14, runner up to Dux Student John Trouncer. I purchased Newmarch Farm in Chegutu District in 1966 with a loan from the Land Bank. In 1972 I married Sandy and we adopted Shelly who we tragically lost in her 21st year. We had two children together, Natalie and James who both now reside in the U.K. The main crops that I grew were Cotton, Maize, Soyas and Sunflowers in rotation. Also later Tobacco and Paprika on Hallingbury Farm. “I Purchased Hallingbury and Sillery Farms also in the Chegutu District when people were leaving in the 1980's. Had a 200 cow breeding herd with followers, mostly Afrikander/Sussex crosses, also a 50 sow pig complex producing mainly porkers, and 200 Dorper ewe herd. My son helped me running Hallingbury until he was evicted in 2004 and I eventually left Newmarch in 2010 after fighting court cases for six years. “I played rugby for Chegutu then later on golf, served as Chairman and Treasurer for both rugby and golf sections and also for the Main Club over many years. I served as a member of C.F.U. as Chairman for the Farmers Association and also as the Cotton Representative. I was Managing Director of the family company J.H. Beattie & Sons P/L for thirty years, which comprised an abattoir and numerous Butcheries in Kadoma, Chegutu, Harare. We then spent 6 years in Harare when we left the farm and have now settled in the U.K near our children and grandchildren”
R.C. Beswick - Rob. “I lived in the lower Vumba and went to Umtali Boys High. In 1962 I did my pre-Gwebi farm experience in the Odzani area hand milking Jersey dairy cows for cream, the skim milk going to a piggery of Landrace and Large White pigs. Potatoes were also produced for the table market, the sorted rejects going to the pigs. Irrigated pasture of Oats and Vetch, with a small maize crop for the dairy herd was grown. October saw the start of the GAC experience with the usual start in the middle of the night of being tipped out of bed and then told to run to Gwebi South “that way”. Mostly that first week was taken in good spirit. Graduation day saw a day off from military training. Most were “Brown Jobs”, with a few of us being “Blue Jobs”. After military training started the real farming. I and four others, Terry Kabot, Ken Levings, Dave Meikle and Mike Roscoe went to Hippo Valley Estates in the Lowveld where four ex Course 13 were already there. After a year as an assistant I was given a new section (18) to open up to produce a crop of 500 acres of seed maize as it was feared the Highveld would not have sufficient seed maize for the following season due to poor rainfall that summer. This was all under surface or flood irrigation. The next few seasons mainly cotton was grown with a bit of soya and sorghum until sugar came back into its own. 1969 I moved to the Rhodesia Sugar Association Experiment Station as farm manager and in 1971 moved onto a settler farm at Mkwasine, and double cropped cotton and wheat under overhead irrigation until sugar started up there and the lands were converted to flood irrigation. 1982 emigrated to Australia, built up a ground spray rig (thanks to Rod Rix C15) for broadacre herbicide spraying. As I did not get on with the constant exposure to these chemicals, although very small, I gave this up and moved to Cairns and a Service Station lease which came to an end after a few years due to the landlord selling to a redeveloper which was for Channel 7 TV. This meant a move South of the border to a cotton property on black soils (stick to it in the dry, it’ll stick to you in the wet) near Moree in 1987. Then on to a very large cotton property, Colly Farms Cotton, (Thanks to Bucky Rowlands C15) as a Field Supervisor, near Collarenebri. A great experience in very large scale farming with large equipment in 1989. 1992 saw a move back to Zimbabwe in the Norton area near Chibero Agricultural College. I finally got to grow tobacco (I said I never would!!) for an African doctor. I stayed there a year but moved two farms away to Marsden for tobacco, maize , cattle, Rhodes grass seed, paprika and a little market gardening thrown in for good measure. Dave Wrench was my next door neighbour. Export roses were also grown and my wife, Tinkie, looked after them in conjunction with Shelly Mino, my boss’ wife, and a consultant. We saved up enough money to get on to the ZTA tenant farming scheme and in 1997 moved on to Dooringspruit at Pounsley, leasing from an African businessman. We did OK, irrigated a smallish area next to the main road from a small dam. At the same time, after two years, negotiated for a farm, Beestkraal, about two farms away which was being used for cattle only, with by now the old tobacco lands being overrun with Dichrostachys cinerea (Mpangala) and the contours in a fair state of disrepair! This had also been utilized as the Mozambique RENAMO training ground. Much thorny stumping and contour re-building later and a good fairly well drained sandy tobacco farm allowing about 30 hectares cropping every year. Then in 2002 Uncle Bob’s men, women and children decided they wanted more land and pegged out the whole farm for their own. At first we did not move out but then the police armed with FN’s and AK’s told us to move out. This we did a while later and moved back to Australia. A crop spray pilot, Dave Sperling from Lowveld days, offered us a 50-50 share to go in with him and his wife Rose on a hotel with pub in the Atherton Table Lands. We borrowed a BIG amount of money from one the banks, on his surety, and bought the place. Much hard work and building up the clientele and three years later, a bit before the global financial crisis, and with the money we had saved and a good profit, we sold the place which allowed us to retire in Batemans Bay, NSW. We have a married daughter in Queensland who is a Pharmacist and a Lt. Col. in the Australian Army, and also two married sons who are Engineers just two hours away in Canberra.”
C.J. Brebner - Chris aka ‘Frog’. Deceased. Chris was another true blue son of Matabeleland and was a fifth generation born in Bulawayo. He attended Plumtree School and soon after leaving in 1961 made his way to Gwebi with Course 14. His ranch, Dornoch Estate, was situated in the Figtree farming area and he was married to Audrey with whom he had two children, Wayne and Fiona. Chris’ ranch carried about 6000 head of cattle and he also did some irrigation. Sadly Chris passed away from Cancer in 1998.
I.A.T. Carnegie - Ian Arthur Thomas aka ‘Knaggs’. Deceased. Ian was born in Bulawayo on the 12th August, 1941. His father was transferred to Lusaka, where Ian went to Primary School. He was a Founder pupil of Falcon College where he played 1st Team Cricket. He was persuaded, much against his wishes, to go to University in Natal to read Agriculture and he left after one year and went to Gwebi College which was more practical and in line with his future plans to go farming. Before going to Gwebi he went to work for Tommy Deere in Doma and then after College he worked for Francis Manning, also in Doma, and then to John Manning. He married Ann Tasker on 2nd December 1967, and in 1969 they had their elder son Keith, and moved on to Chipiri Farm which was next door to Frances Manning and which they bought from Pip Rogers. In 1970 their second son, Bruce was born. The Boys went to Highlands Junior School in Harare and then, following in Dad's footsteps, went to Falcon College. Ian grew tobacco, maize, cotton and ran 400 head of cattle. Much later, after building a dam which gave him the irrigation, he grew wheat and planted coffee. During the Bush war he started off in the Army with the Engineers, and then on being released from the Army, he joined PATU in Doma. Ian also served on the District Council and was vice-chairman of Doma Club, where he played tennis and was an enthusiastic participant in his cousin, Paddy Manning's amateur dramatics. Ian, sadly, was killed in a car accident in December 1983 and Ann now lives in the UK.
P. Charles - Peter. Whereabouts unknown.
G.N.S. Coleman - Steve aka ‘Hood’. “I was born at home in North Avenue, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia on 2nd January 1943, and was baptised Geoffrey Neville Stephen Coleman. I was one of four siblings. As my father was Geoffrey I was known as Neville by all my family and school friends, both at St. Michael’s Prep School and St. George’s. On arriving at Gwebi College in September 1962, on my first day, the notice on my room door was for S. Coleman. When asked by my fellow students what the S stood for I said Stephen. So from that day on I was known as Steve as well as ‘Hood’ on occasion. To this day I know exactly what part of my life I know people from. Neville or Nev is for family and school friends; Steve from Gwebi onwards. However, now that I am living in the UK for the purposes of the NHS medical system I am known as Geoffrey – must be the Irish ancestry! Before attending Gwebi I completed my pre-Gwebi farming experience with Ferdie Fisher at Headlands Farm, Headlands. After leaving Gwebi in 1964, Keith Mills and I did our four and a half months National Service together in the Royal Rhodesian Air Force. I passed out with the rank of Senior Aircraftsman. I then worked in the Government survey department and saved enough to pay for an air ticket to the UK. Keith Mills and I then went to the UK for a couple of years playing, and working when necessity called. I worked in various short term jobs from an anti-submarine locator factory, a jewellery shop, a petrol pump attendant and finally ended up on a hop farm in Kent. Picking hops is hard work and one day I got lucky, the farmer asked if anyone knew how to drive a tractor as the driver had quit. I got in quickly and after that had a cushy number driving the tractor while the other guys and girls cut the hops. In 1967 at the end of my two year visa and with little money to return, I applied for the job of deck hand on the HMS Harold Cartwright, a thirty metre ex- fishing trawler leaving Lowestoft in Norfolk and sailed to Cape Town. This journey took six weeks with a week refuelling and replenishing stop in Las Palmas. A week out of Cape Town we ran out of all food and drink apart from some tea and so learnt what hunger was all about. I then hitch hiked up to Salisbury from Cape Town, sometimes sleeping in ditches on the side of the road in the Karoo while the jackals lulled me to sleep. Back home in Rhodesia I got a job with the Department of Conservation and Extension and after some basic training was posted to Mount Darwin. My work area extended from the farming areas around Mt Darwin and included some of the TTL’s and Purchase areas as far down the escarpment as Mukambura on the PEA border. I met up again with Oliver Newton who had also just returned from a trip to the UK, he travelled together with my future wife, Celia whom he had met on the ship coming home. Celia and I were married on 1st June 1968 in Salisbury and I then took the poor girl to Mount Darwin. Our first child Natasha was born in the Lady Chancellor Maternity Home on 17th December 1970 after a headlong rush into Salisbury on heavily corrugated, dirt roads and swollen rivers during a very wet rainy season in the early hours of the morning. I had continued with my periodic call-ups in the Air Force travelling to Thornhill in Gwelo and then flying back to my part of the valley to patrol the border and guard the fence erectors and mine layers. In the early hours of the morning on 21st December 1972 there was a terrorist attack on Altena Farm in Centenary District followed by a further attack on Whistlefield farm on 23rd December. On the 8th January 1973 a terrorist attack took place in the early hours of the morning on the Mt Darwin village. From our house on the hill we could see the tracer from the bullets as the Club, Police Station and District Commissioner’s office were attacked. Celia and Natasha, who was then just two years old, sheltered in our passage on the cot mattress, while I “patrolled” the inside of the house with my Great Uncle’s Martini-Henry pump action rifle, the only weapon I had at the time! With the local police reserve under much pressure things were very tense and it was at this time I decided to transfer from the Air Force into the Police Field Reserve so that I could have some input in protecting our village. Things hotted up from then on and due to the situation I was not able to do my job in the Tribal Trust Lands. Apart from call ups with the Field Reserve, I found myself supervising the clearing of grass, scrub, etc, in and around the village. Eventually towards the end of 1973, Internal Affairs head office transferred me to Shamva where apparently the war had not yet reached! Our second daughter Nicola was born after another early morning dash from Shamva through a TTL to the Lady Chancellor in Salisbury, this time on a tar road. So no land mine fears at least. While in Shamva I did a lot of work with Agricura in selecting suitable areas for the setting up of their depots. Work became more difficult as the terrorist threat spread. At the end of January 1974, with a one month old baby, I was offered a full time job with Agricura in Salisbury and for the safety of my family and I admit, the doubling of my salary, I took it. I worked for Agricura for eighteen months, but it was not a happy time. The ethics of our MD did not impress me and I started looking for other work and I resigned. I then went to work for Chibuku Breweries, a subsidiary of Delta Corporation and after initial training in Salisbury was sent as Brewery Manager to Gwanda in 1975 where we lived for five years. While in Gwanda we had a further three children, Deirdre in 1976 and twins Mark and Lisa in 1978, all born in Bulawayo. I continued in the Police Field Reserve and had some friends killed. I also joined Rotary which organisation I was to continue in for the next thirty years. At the end of 1979 I was promoted to Area Manager and transferred to Fort Victoria. We were living in Fort Vic at independence in 1980 when I was promoted again to Regional Manager and posted to Bulawayo in January 1981 with responsibilities for eight breweries. Following on Independence in 1980 I could once again travel freely and was able to revive our plants and the result was that our sales grew. In 1990 I was made up to Operations Director for the country and again we transferred to Harare. This was an interesting time and our business grew as we opened new breweries and acquired others from competitors. I introduced the contract growing of maize and sorghum for our use and so assured a constant supply. I also got the sailing bug and spent many an enjoyable time at both Lake Mac and Kariba sailing over the years on the two yachts that we owned. In 1996 I could not see any further prospects of promotion due to affirmative action and so took early retirement after 20 years in Chibuku. As we had been planning this departure for the previous eighteen months, we had already bought a very small tubular steel furniture company, which Celia ran, with the result was that I had a job to walk into on leaving Chibuku. Celia and I ran a successful business over the next nine years manufacturing and supplying steel furniture to both home and commercial interests. Being your own boss has its advantages but, as we also learnt, its disadvantages as well. Sourcing materials and cash was a constant and major problem but by wheeling and dealing we managed. By 2004, we had had enough however and decided to sell up and depart the country of my birth, a sad moment but realistic, in our opinion. Now the decision as to where to settle in our retirement? We did not really want to move to the UK, too cold, so together with a friend of mine who also wanted to leave we decided to check out Costa Rica, Central America while he went to Spain, our other choice. We visited Costa Rica for three months in 2004 and decided that we could settle there. Spain was full of tourists on the coast and barren inland so that was out for us. We were lucky to find a buyer and sold up, being paid up front. By then we had managed to sort out our children, all adults by then, with alternative citizenships and they had dispersed to the UK, Botswana and South Africa. In June 2005 we left Zimbabwe for the last time leaving nothing but our dead relatives and all our pasts behind. It was a relief to be out, but sad as well. We have never been back. We settled well in Costa Rica, fitted into the expat community and even spoke enough Spanish to get by, but we had one major problem, we were so far away from anywhere that seeing our children or them coming to see us was not practical at all. After three and a half years of enjoyable living in Costa Rica we decided to bite the bullet and move to the UK, cold or no cold. In November 2008 Celia left for the UK as she had a British passport while I stayed to deal with the legalities and the packing of our household goods, many from Zimbabwe. In January 2009 I joined her and we settled into our new home in the same village that our daughter Natasha and her family now lived. We have since moved to a retirement village, not far from Natasha, and are well settled. Four of our five children are now also living and working in the UK with the other in the USA. There are now none of our direct Coleman family left in Zimbabwe.
B.R.R. Dawe - Brian aka ‘Horrie Dorrie’. Deceased. Brian was born in Bulawayo and graduated from Gwebi in October, 1964 with Course 14. It is not known where he worked immediately after Gwebi but by the mid-seventies he was employed by the Cold Storage Commission as a Field Inspector and based in Salisbury. It is reasonable to assume that his position at the CSC, which was a government parastatal, was untenable at Zimbabwe’s independence and so he took up a Manager’s position with a privately owned ranch called Mvaami in the Sinoia farming area. By this stage in his life Brian had married Pat and had two small children. At the time of Brian’s murder, the war had been over for two years, so in theory there should have been no further attacks on farmers and their homesteads. In fact, many of those young killers never went into those assembly points, preferring to forgo Margaret Thatcher’s $150 a month, to remain at large, spending their time mostly poaching on ranches, and robbing farm stores or rural buses and occasionally murdering white farmers. It is now generally accepted that most white farmers and their families who were murdered after independence were done so on the orders of the CIO. After dark, on the evening of the 26th April 1982, the terrorists came to the back door of Brian’s house, led by the cook, who was obviously working in league with them by giving them access to the yard and then into the house. They were three in number, all armed with AK’s. Brian was lying on the sofa, watching TV. The terrorists came up behind him and their spokesman said, “We want money!” Brian replied he didn’t have any, whereupon the spokesman opened fire with a burst that killed Brian instantly. This response clearly showed that the primary objective was to kill the farmer rather than stealing cash or goods. The Bull Terrier that was lying next to Brian realised that this was a life and death situation, and launched itself at the murderer with all its might. Details are hazy at this point, but the three terrorists eventually shot the dog, but not before Brian’s wife Pat had used this momentary distraction to scoop up the two children, and dash down the passage to the bedroom block. She got there just in time to close and lock the door before her attackers crashed against it, bawling threats. As luck would have it, there was a loaded rifle in the bedroom, which she fired through the door causing great consternation amongst the terrorists. Whether she wounded one is unknown. Pat then tried to reload the gun, but jammed it by using the wrong ammunition but fortunately the intruders didn’t know this and fled from the farmhouse. The next morning several white farmers gathered at the scene of the murder to see whether they could help in any way, when a large black policeman swaggered out of the house carrying the dead Bull Terrier. There was the usual splatter of native bystanders and the policeman addressed them, in the vernacular, but plainly enough for the whites to follow. “Comrades, here we have a Boer dog. It was well shot, whilst trying to bite our people. I think we should shoot all the Boer dogs. And all the Boers too for that matter! Ha, ha, ha ... ” With this sort of attitude from the Police Force the culprits in Brian’s case were never caught or prosecuted. Several other farmers or their wives, were subsequently murdered, and in some instances, the culprits were apprehended and handed over to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, but nothing was ever done, and a few weeks later, the murderers were released with no charges. Only a month before Brian’s demise, Myles Standish-White on the 12th March, was attacked by poachers on his ranch, and beaten unconscious with demos and left for dead. Thanks to a Police Unit called Prompt Force, commanded by Pete Chantler, they were arrested next day in the compound of one of his neighbours, but never punished. Brian Dawe was, at the time of his death, managing Mvaami Farm for Barry Redelinghuys and Hannes Meintjies who apparently both left soon after this incident to return to South Africa. Mvaami Farm, by all accounts, was one of those farms that seemed to attract tragedy. Tony Marillier had been told by his father, Phillip, that the first occupant of Mvaami, his name long since forgotten in the mists of time, died on his own from blackwater fever. The next occupant was a character called Moore who had to leave when he shot his seedbed boy through the shoulder when he caught him stealing. The AFC, now holding title to this farm, temporarily installed a manager until they managed to either sell or lease it to Ernst Kloppers who unfortunately was killed in 1968 or ‘69 when welding a herbicide drum that exploded. The farm was then leased for a couple of years but was eventually bought by Meintjies and Redlinghuis and it was this partnership that employed Brian Dawe. It wasn’t long after the murder of Brian that a disreputable character called Charles Mukuwe installed himself as the new owner, bringing with him much stolen farm equipment from other farm invasions in the Sinoia area which included five of Tony’s Modro Bulk Curers which he’d uplifted from Magog Farm. At that time Denis Norman, the then Minister of Agriculture in the Zimbabwean Government, went to great lengths to emphasise that all these murders were criminal and not political which later on proved to be wishful thinking when the government inspired land invasions started in earnest and those illegal activities were undoubtedly politically motivated.
W.D. Densham - Drummond. On leaving Gwebi in July 1964 Drummond immediately volunteered, along with fellow students Des Flett, Colin Gordon and Ian Carnegie, to do his four and a half months National Service with the Royal Rhodesian Corps of Engineers after which he started work with Bennie Knot on Nottingham Estates which is upstream from Beit Bridge on the Limpopo River. The main crops grown were irrigated cotton and citrus with some cattle and his job was to keep the six huge centrifugal pumps extracting water 24 hours a day. He then worked as a cattle ranch manager for Len Roberts in the Kezi District until the ranch was sold at the end of 1965 after which he became involved in game ranching and culling game animals on a quota basis issued by Rhodesian National Parks and Wildlife. Drummond then had a complete change of scenery when he worked at Cashel Valley on a mixed farming enterprise with cattle on the Chimanimani Mountains until January 1966. Thereafter he did odd caretaker jobs looking after farms until end of April until he returned to hunting, this time with Brian Marsh’s Eland Game Ranchers. He hunted on Nuanetsi Ranches in the Lowveld, Central Estates near Umvuma, and Matetsi in the Victoria Falls area where all the different species, including buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, kudu, impala, sable, reedbuck, waterbuck, were again on a quota system issued by National Parks. This lasted until end of September 1967. He then worked on small flower farm outside Marandellas producing cut flowers for the florist trade and during this time, December 1967, married Gloria and they made the decision to move to South Africa where he joined the Natal Parks Board as a Learner Ranger stationed at Ndumo Game Reserve followed by five years with the Game Capture Unit at Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Drummond then climbed the promotional ladder becoming Warden-in-Charge at Mkhuze Game Reserve in 1974, promoted to Conservator North at Natal Parks Board Headquarters in 1979, followed by Chief Conservator Zululand in 1983. Drummond proceeded into becoming Deputy Director in 1994 and Regional Director Zululand in 1998, a post he held until he retired in 2001. Obviously after a career with this much experience in wildlife and its management Drummond was involved with Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development in the University of KwaZulu-Natal in co-ordinating the Course-work Masters Degree in Protected Area Management, and now he is mentoring community field rangers in conservation management with the Mabandla Traditional Authority, the Game Rangers Association of Africa, wilderness conservation and management training, and an Honorary Officer with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (formerly Natal Parks Board). Drummond and Gloria have retired to Howick and their three adult children have so far given them one grandson. Drummond is a committed Christian and is a Leader in the Howick Methodist Church.
D.E. Flett - Des moved from Mozambique where he was farming, to take up a managerial position with a large farming corporation near Namitete, Malawi, but present whereabouts uncertain but believed to be in South Africa.
A.G. Giddy aka ‘Dizzy’ also disappeared off the radar.
C.H.D. Gordon. Colin Hubert Dukoff. Deceased.
J.D.S. Gray - John. “I was born on the 24th May, 1942 in Salisbury and I was educated firstly at Selborne Routledge Junior School (with John Petheram, later a lecturer at Gwebi), and then as one of the founder pupils at Belvedere Junior School, Salisbury. Secondary schooling, need I say, had to be at the best, being Prince Edward School, Salisbury. Then on to the cream of colleges I believe anywhere. That’s right, Gwebi College of Agriculture, but more of that later. I grew up in Salisbury where my father, Jimmy, a pharmacist owned Gray’s Chemist on the corner of First Street and Speke Avenue opposite the old Grand Hotel. A very different profession in those days as he had to make and dispense many of the medicines. He also made pills. Even made the dosing ingredients for the bolshie C15 students, it certainly quietened them down, including Mick Fletcher and Bucky Rowlands. Don Stotter was small enough to get through the railings and made a dash for it!!!! My mother Joan helped in the pharmacy and having been born on a farm in Potchefstroom RSA the family decided to move to a farming area and hence my first and lasting experience of farming. I must have been about 12 years old. We moved into the well known Huddy families’ area in Salisbury South. We lived next door to Don, the eldest Huddy brother of three, on Glanville farm, not far from the later established Tobacco Training Institute. These were happy days and I would get up early and walk or cycle across to the dairy about 5 miles to be at the early morning milking sessions. After washing up, it was onto the horses for a refreshing ride before having to be at the breakfast table with Enid, Don’s wife and the three girls, Maureen the eldest, Rosalie next, and they both married Riley brothers from Norton. Unfortunately the youngest Judy died from polio. After breakfast I’d be off to whatever was taking place on the farm. My best was reaping and tying of the tobacco onto m’tepis and get up in the tiers in the barns to load the sticks. I ate lunch with the workers being sadza (cooked maize meal) the traditional food with either n’derere (stewed pumpkin leaves and their flowers flavoured with home ground peanut butter) or meat stewed or grilled off the bone. Oh what fun and memories. Even ate field mice when on the menu and mopane worms. A favourite was potahayi, a biscuit/cake type of meal made from maize meal and cooked between two sheets of metal with coals from the furnaces and sweetened with sugar. At silage cutting in the silo, wearing pith helmets was the order of the day and laughing when big bits of maize cob bounced off one’s head. Moved back to Salisbury and off to senior school Prince Edward and into Boy Scouts again with John Petheram in both cases. These were very happy days and in those days we as 13 and 14 year olds would go off hiking on our own. We had maps and learnt how to use a prismatic compass and spend 2 to 3 nights out, carrying all our own food. No one knew where we were, not even ourselves at times, and just had to depend on our own instincts. We all got home safely without the aid of cell phones. What freedom we enjoyed. Swimming bare arsed (quoting Sir Roy Welensky) in the rivers. Not a care in the world. Scouting. During Scouting days there were organized trips to the Chimanimani Mountains (now Dave Meikle’s domain) and two trips to Nyasaland, now Malawi, to climb Mount Mulanje. That was in 1957 and 58. The roads were terrible, all dirt and one trip with 15 Scouts was in an old 5 tonner that we had fitted with a sort of bus body. Three full days on the road. We were up Chambe Point, one of the peaks of Mount Mulanje, and on coming down ‘Peth’ came past me, doing unintended cart wheels, only to be wedged into a small tree on the just about treeless granite rock. He ended up with a broken arm and bare patches on his head from where he made contact with the rock. This probably accounts for his present condition of being absent minded!!!!! I ended up being a Queen’s Scout, as did ‘Peth’, and receiving our certificates from Lord Rowallan, the World Chief Scout. There were other adventures like cycling from Salisbury to Inyanga and back via Mtoroshanga and scuba diving in the Sinoia Caves, and mapping the caves as best we could for the Salisbury Information Centre. My father arranged a job with Siemssen and Maunder, a tobacco buying company, part owned by the late Charles Taberer Snr. Many youngsters got work in this manner in those days. I did not enjoy the work and was not a good buyer. After the failure of buying I went for my four and a half months compulsory military training at Llewellin Barracks. I was made a corporal in charge of our platoon. I managed to get my white stripes and was offered an officer’s course which I declined. The desire to go farming was still very strong so I organized a job with Henry Waller on Bella Vista Farm, Concession where I had spent many happy days during school holidays. This was due to Scouting. The idea was we would go out to the farm and do work but most of us were side lined from work by the attraction of Henry and Athalie’s three lovely daughters, Leslie, Jenny-Rose and Leonie. There were wonderful dances all around the farming area and tennis competitions. It was here that I met Wilf Smithyman, soon to be at Gwebi with me, a charmer of note and his nickname ‘Spiv’ suited him perfectly. Henry taught me a great deal as the farm was mixed, so it was tobacco, pigs, cattle, dairy. I spent a very happy year there and was treated like his son. However this was where the decision to go to Gwebi was made. I am still in contact with Leslie and Jennifer, but sadly the youngest sister Leonie has passed away. I had done my compulsory army call-up between leaving Siemssen and Maunder and Bella Vista so I was a man of the world at the ripe old age of 17. A year in Concession with blokes much older than myself in the area, what parties, wine women and song. Wild and looking for fun. Gwebi gave it to all of us in great doses. What wonderful men and to this day many of us are still in contact and when we meet, our very understanding wives allow us to reminisce with the odd glass of red wine, we’re all too old for large quantities of beer except Trouncer who brews his own and we revert in age. “Don’t you guys ever grow up?” the answer is definitely NO! Gwebi to me was a great character builder and an institute that not only taught agriculture but fellowship and incredible team building. The staff were great people with incredible concern for the students and would go out of their way to assist in many ways, not just on the learning front, but on the social side and the sports field. To all, I owe many humble thanks for what I learnt. My first year roommate was James Holderness, a very solid citizen. He swears to this day that I was responsible for leading him astray. His father was Reverend Richard Holderness of the Anglican Diocese so possibly there is an inkling of truth in his assessment, but maybe the devil came out of James at times. The Rev. Richard had failed!! It is thanks to James that I met my wonderful wife. They had grown up together in Highlands Salisbury and James invited Barbs to a College ball. The rest is history. We completed our week of initiation, having done the Broadbalk run in the dark successfully ripping ourselves on the barbed wire fence, moved the water in the swimming pool from the shallow end to the deep end with our mugs so the seniors could swim, kept our grasshoppers alive in match boxes and had to quote on demand from a senior “to show my appreciation for the land and those who live on it”. The grasshopper had to be alive and the grass in the box fresh or a funeral was to be performed, coffin, pall bearers and all. Ask “Animal” Kabot he attended quite a few funerals. We had to perform the working parts of a six cylinder piston engine with first years going up and down in the correct firing order much to the amusement of the seniors. When the initiation was all over both courses retired to the pub to celebrate the end of this fine tradition. Back home that night seniors were wandering around our rooms still stirring it and there was one near James’s and my room making quite a bit of noise getting everyone to be quiet. Thinking he was Second Year I rugby tackled him and shouted to James to grab him so that we could sort him out and that was how I met Stan the - - - Hodierne our Warden! Needless to say I was dressed down the next day. This was the first of many meetings with a wonderful man and only wished I could have got to know him better. He was a very young RSM in the British army immediately after WW2 and knew just how to handle wild young men without killing their spirit. Between Stan and Rod Mundy the Acting Principal, we could not have asked for more understanding leaders. College life now continued into routine duties, livestock, lectures and field work. These were interspersed with plenty of humour and normal young male antics. We inherited the key to the kitchen and pantry stores so we could fill up on food. Meals were good, but we always needed extra. We made frequent trips to Salisbury for sport and chicks and visited the George and the Quorn hotels on a regular basis, getting banned from both, and then being asked to come back as profits had dropped. Water polo against 1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry was good as it always fell on the sixpence night. That meant all drinks were sixpence, from coke to spirits. I was elected to the Students’ Committee as the First Years’ representative with Dave Meikle and John Trouncer. Nigel Norvall was the Chairman. I reckon Nigel had a breeze in comparison to what awaited me in our Second Year. During the break between the two years I was lucky to get a job with John Dendy-Young ex Gwebi, in Mkushi, Zambia thanks to Stan. Interesting times, the UNIP party was very strong under the presidency of Kenneth Kaunda. There was work to rule and all sorts of other labour restraints to which I did not agree and often spent Sundays and other days watering the tobacco seed beds myself. Then back to College for the final year. My roommate was Guy Jellicoe an excellent citizen and we are still very good mates to this day. Better known as “Alley Cat” as he used to get back to College from courting his wonderful wife Pat just before milking time, come in through the window and apologize if he had woken me up. I had the honour of being asked to be his Bestman at their wedding. I was elected Chairman of the Students’ Committee with the late Ian Carnegie, who was my best man, and I think Dave Meikle, and I was to learn a great deal about man management and trying to control testosterone charged young men. We gave the First Years the normal welcome week. Revenge was sweet. That all over with, Varsity Rag Week was upon us. Yes, we had to have a float and in fact we put in two floats with the help of Bob Dimond and Ted Bircher, staff members in the Engineering faculty. Second Years had an elephant with Dave “Mozzie” Wrench as the Kaput. The elephant was quite a magnificent beast. His legs walked attached to the trailer wheels the head moved side to side and in the trunk was a water pipe which was attached to a very strong stirrup pump. It was Dave’s duty to direct the head to drum majorettes and any other unsuspecting chick, then to give a shout to pump. One of the rear legs could be cocked and this was duly done next to a policeman on duty and a bucket of water tossed over him. We were not invited to the Rag Ball that evening, but this did not stop a Gwebi presence and action. The Rag Queen was abducted by the First Years and kept safely in a flat in town. It was all good fun and Stan and Rod (the Boss) took it very well and allowed us to bring the Queen to lectures and practicals for a few days. This was the start of very serious Gwebi inter University of Rhodesia clashes. Nigel Rowlands, Bucky’s elder brother, was the student chairman of Varsity. These clashes became very serious and I was called to see D.C. ‘Boss’ Lilford, the Gwebi Board Chairman on his farm Lilfordia. He gave me the strong impression that he thought that it was just young men’s pranks but it had better stop. This was after some guys had attended out patients and one had a broken leg, requiring hospitalization. Truce was declared. I had been caught by the Varsity with a couple of other chaps, disrobed in front of the women’s residence, tied to a lamp post for all and sundry to assess. I had also had my head shaved. That was fine, but I was due to represent the future farmers of Rhodesia at the annual Intensive Conservation Areas convention in Umtali and to present a paper. Of course our little sortie with varsity had reached the Rhodesia Herald. Embarrassing to say the least. I had to be introduced to Lord Graham, the then Minister of Agriculture, on the stage and got a real ripping from the audience. Sitting right behind me and Ian was my future boss Barry G. Johnson (BG) whom also gave me a hard time. Back to mundane college. No chance, YWCA was now the challenge!! The girls boasted that they lived in an impenetrable fortress. A wager was made and evidence had to be underwear and shower tap handles. It didn’t take us long - mission accomplished. But yet another visit to Stan’s office and to ask Boss Lilford for help yet again. The guilty were in jail for breaking and entering and theft. Boss really had sway because he got them out by the next afternoon and the criminal records lost even though they had been fingerprinted. What cracked the scene was that Vic Reece, who owned the getaway vehicle, a Land Rover adorned with agapanthus flowers collected from the approach to the building. The YWCA matron saw the vehicle and put Land Rover and farmers together - equals Gwebi. Police arrived at College I was woken up having been briefed there may be cops. Everybody was in bed and the police were leaving, but the African constable was carrying out his duties as directed and found the flowers in the Land Rover. The other evidence of underwear and tap tops came out from various rooms. The girls had their panties returned, but refused to accept them. So a collection was set up and everyone put in two shillings and sixpence to buy new garments. The money now had to be given to those girls who had lost items which, by the way, had been well stretched to fit over various parts of the Land Rover. Myself, Carnegie and Meikle now had to attend their assembly in the big hall at the YMCA to deliver the cash and a huge bunch of agapanthus for the matron. You talk about embarrassment as none the three of us were involved in the incident but as we walked down the centre aisle were we barracked, heckled, hissed at and verbally abused. After the presentation ceremony we were invited to tea and we were all good friends and the chaps were invited to the next YWCA dance. Then there was the chicken thrown over the balcony at the Palace Cinema Theatre at the very scary end of the film “Pschyo”, possibly Alfred Hitchcock’s best. The chicken landed on Heather Freeman’s head which I found out in Malawi when I had the pleasure of having Tony Freeman (St. George’s College), son of Ginger Freeman, as my accountant. Small world. Yet another visit to Stan’s office and I had to plead guilty as charged. Cannot remember what my punishment was but I had to see Rod Mundy and I was told in no uncertain terms to quieten things down yet again. It was getting close to finals and the men did settle down. The next we saw of each other was at graduation day. I received various awards, but the greatest was the medal for Leadership from Boss Lilford. He apologized that mine was silver as times were hard. Earlier Leadership awards were gold!!!! I was now working for B.G Johnson on Dulwich in Trelawney and thoroughly enjoying being employed by a very dynamic and accomplished tobacco farmer. However I went off on a fishing trip with Wilf Smithyman to the Zambezi and contracted some weird fever which put me in hospital on and off for over six months, and to this day, was never really diagnosed. ‘Sorry BG, I have to leave.’ I was employed by the Farmers Co-Op in the Stockfeeds Dept. When eventually cleared by the doctors I worked for Frank Hart on Mushangwa in the Banket area and did tobacco and Charolais. He started his herd about the same time as Pete Haddingham C13. I married Barbara Rich from Highlands, in Salisbury on 6th April 1968, (I remembered that date on my own, did not have to ask!!!!) We have three children. Scott the eldest married and living in Malawi working in the hospitality business. Educated at Graeme College in Grahamstown RSA. Degree, accountancy and economics from the University of Port Elizabeth RSA. Married to a lovely Japanese lady, Kaori, no children. Karen daughter married to Doug Macpherson from Namitete in Malawi. They have two boys and are living in Bundaberg Australia. She is a teacher. Educated Victoria Girls School in Grahamstown. Degree in education from University Port Elizabeth RSA. Andrew married Sue Carter from Sydney Australia where they are living. He was educated at Graeme College and St. Andrews College in Grahamstown RSA. Children 3 boys. Andrew an entrepreneur and has many portfolios. Started off playing professional rugby in England then in Australia, but found the Islanders just too big and damaging. Newly married and off to Chibi Tribal Trust Land in the Fort Victoria area to teach agriculture. A difficult job and I was very frustrated. I heard that managers for the newly developed irrigation scheme at Mkwasine were needed. I applied and was interviewed on the side of the Fort Vic road by Jack ?? (sorry memory) who was the brains behind the project. I had the job before he got back into his car to go to Salisbury. I was to be the manager of Section B. My immediate boss was Dave Gilmour. Many happy days. It was a great challenge. 500 acres cotton followed by the same of wheat. Ian and Annie Carnegie were leaving John Manning on Sikona in Mangula to go on their own. John took me on. He was like BG, a very motivated farmer. But Ted Jeffreys of Woodrow farm in Darwendale, approached me one day on the floors and we decided it would be better closer to town so I took the job. Ted was a hard man to work for. Scott was now about 4 and Karen 2. The Rhodesian political scene was now starting to hot up and call ups were becoming part of the day and we were not really happy on Woodrow. Bryan Rendell (Gwebi C7) had long left B.G. Johnson and Dulwich, and Brian Higgs (Gwebi C13) was also going off on his own. BG approached me and back to Dulwich it was. I got sort of involved in politics at this time doing canvassing for the Rhodesia Party under Strath Brown and my uncle Air Vice Marshal Harold Hawkins. An interesting time as everyone in the farming areas thought that there was nothing better than the Rhodesia Front, Ian Smith, Boss Lilford, David Smith, P.K. van der Byl and the rest. All that is now history and can be discussed till the beer runs out. I was now spending four weeks on the farm with Dave Johnson, Barry’s son, and six weeks in uniform and the situation was hotting up. I was in the Rhodesian Intelligence Corp as a Lieutenant and learnt a few things and decided to visit AVM Harold Hawkins, the Rhodesian Diplomat in RSA and have a discussion. Following this a decision was made, do not buy a farm, better to get out and come back when things had settled down. Unfortunately that never happened. Harold suggested that Malawi was the place to be at that time. Pack your bags Barbs, we are off with three children in tow. Malawi – We arrived at Chileka airport on the 17th January 1978. John Pendered (St. George’s College) had fixed me up with the job, the same company he was working for Tobacco Estates. It was owned by Jack Stevens who also owned Limbe Leaf, which today is owned by Universal Tobacco. I was to be under John and our GM was Jerry Parker from Odzi, who attended school at Umtali Boys High. The virgin farm we were to develop was at Likasi about 60kms from the capital Lilongwe. It was a government cattle and dairy breeding farm. Lots of land and the agreement was do tobacco and sow Katambora Rhodes grass. My section was allocated to me. There was nothing other than a borehole with a pump. We stayed with John and his wife Doena util we had built a garage which was our habitat for about six months while we built our main house. Likasi was a real challenge as we started a bit late in the season. Jack Stevens had given Jerry orders for the crop to be planted. So go for it we did. Bricks to be made, burnt, lands for 70ha to be stumped, house and barns to build etc. The heaviest year for rainfall recorded so it was a challenge. Wet bricks, saturated soil oh what fun!!!!! Mission accomplished. After all that we left after two years. I then went to work for a Malawian, John Ngwiri of Tikondane Estate, Mchingi, as he was going broke and ADMARC an agricultural organization was told to find a manager. Ngwiri was the Principal Secretary to His Excellency the President, Kamuzu Banda, and the Cabinet. He had clout I assure you. I was very apprehensive, never mind Barbara. There were stories about all the ministers, etc. This turned out to be yet another challenge as the last manager knew nothing about farming, but had grown up on farm in the Melfort area where his Dad was the railway station manager. Everything was there, but different. The barns were the wrong shape and dimensions, no conservation, very light sands, poor land prep and very little money. The house was different!! The toilet was in the middle of the dining room and the lounge was just over 2 metres wide and about 8 metres long. Barbara did not approve. I got permission to change it. The work required moving walls and all sorts. After plenty of head scratching the only answer was to lift the roof bash down a large amount of the interior walls and build again. So we lifted the roof with jacks and got on with the game. The result - happy wife, happy life. I also had to fix Ngwiri’s cottage so he could visit. This cottage was used to bring out his female friends to whom I was always introduced and had to drink Black Label with him. On one occasion we invited him and his girlfriend for a meal. She was a tall, very regal woman and was involved in improving the education system. She was a Zimbabwean and very well educated. In discussion over the meal it was discovered she was born near Lesbury Farm, Rusape. Yes, Rob Smart’s farm and she used to tie madukas/sindindi/tobacco hands in their tobacco shed. She only had praise for Rob’s dad Roy and the whole Smart family. Our children were growing up and needed schooling. Ngwiri/AMARC did not have sufficient funds to pay me so we packed up and moved after two years. Ngwiri was most helpful and arranged a new employment permit for me, which was right against the statuary regulations. I often socialised with him and had very long lunches at the Capital Hotel. On one occasion I was invited to have lunch with Sir Glynn Jones, the last Governor General of Nyasaland, and Major Ted Ricketts, the military advisor to His Excellency. Sir Glynn and Barbara’s uncle Colin Duff had both been to Oxford University together and then in the Northern Rhodesia government service. A very late lunch. I was employed by the National Bank under Mike Pitt, an Old Miltonian, to take over Kwafani Estate along the Zambian border near Mchiji Boma (ex Port Herald). The farm belonged to Gwanda Chakwamba MP and Vice President. He was in prison and I never met him until about four years after I had left the farm. He was imprisoned for allegedly attempting to take His Excellency’s life with a real James Bond weapon, a pen that fired a 0.22 round and he had been caught practicing shooting rabbits at night, so the story goes. Stayed 12 years. When I moved Chris Hope (C28) took over. Unfortunately Gwanda had a dream while in jail and decided that tobacco was sinful so he wanted a dairy. Kwafani Estate was 140 miles from the processing factory on a very bad road and in the rainy season was just about impassable. It did not work and Chris left for New Zealand. There was also interference from Gwanda’s daughter who just completed an MBA and knew all the answers. General Farming (Pvt) Ltd. were looking for an area manager so we looked at the option and thought it was advisable to get into big company management rather than just farming, so made the move to Kasungu. This large enterprise consisted of twenty-one tobacco estates run by both expatriate managers and Malawians. Over 1500 ha tobacco and a huge number of labourers. A very challenging position. However Frank Maguire, the Representative for the Commonwealth Development Company (CDC) for Malawi offered me, two years later, the job of GM of Impala Farming doing tobacco and crops other than tea and coffee. This meant living in Lilongwe and running virtually the length and breadth of Malawi. Barbara could not wait as she had literally been many years stuck out in the bush. I thank her for her patience which at times was somewhat tested. We were really happy in this job as Barbara was in town and I was in the bush. However this was not to last forever. CDC was financed by British tax payers’ money and as we were doing tobacco which was by now a no-no!! It could not be declared in parliament so CDC were told to sell off everything other than coffee and tea. CDC boffs were sent out to sell the estates. They were sold to Tony Taberer (Tabex) son of Charles Taberer. All sounds good, but no, Tony sells out, in entirety, to Dimon Tobacco. Dimon Tobacco amalgamated/merged/taken over by Alliance One and they do not want any tobacco estates. Employees in senior positions were made the offer of buying any of the estates if we so wished. By now I was a Malawian citizen and not many ex-pats got this option and could own land. At last our own farm Kakuyu at Namitete, 45kms from Lilongwe. I went into partnership with two Indian partners. This lasted fourteen years but tobacco was declining and we had over capitalized on curing units when Zimbabwe tobacco collapsed. We were promised very good prices but, sorry for that, it did not happen as we had planned. I sold out to my partners, stayed on the farm as a consultant and opened up a restaurant in the city. During this time Andrew was in Malawi and was the manager of the restaurant. I was away in Madagascar trying to teach the Malagasy people to grow tobacco. I was working for Imperial Tobacco but logistics, no interest from the farmers and inaccessible areas caused the failure. This was a two year project with me three months in Madagascar and then two weeks off back in Malawi. Andrew returned to Australia. This was OK, but the travelling and the hours beat us eventually as we were now both approaching our early 70’s. Karen and Andrew were now both in Australia and our son Scott was doing hospitality at a Lodge in Lilongwe. We decided to give up the restaurant and immigrate to Australia. We arrived in Australia on the 18th March 2015 and lived with our daughter and family till we found a home which is a great little cabin in a caravan park. The park full of old ‘wrinklies’ like ourselves and very quiet. Just great. Good neighbours in the park. The Jellicoes, Trouncers, Beswicks, Smithymans, Brian Piers C 18, Bucky Rowlands (yet to meet) and no doubt other Gwebi men are all somewhere in Oz. Definitely plenty of Old Hararians dotted over the continent. Do not kid yourself this island is big!! I still need to work, but farming here is very different to Africa. Gee, they use GPS’s and funny things like that and the tractor goes by itself. No more fun because you cannot get agitated by the driver going crooked. Anyway, I worked on a Research Station doing ground nuts and soya till their money ran out for those crops. I decided to take a fork lift license. All was going good, just doing the final touches on the Wednesday before the written, oral and practical test. I was getting off the semi-trailer after having directed the placement of some drums as the co-operator of the forklift. The ladder was very narrow and I got my steel toed boots (‘fellies’ not allowed) a bit tangled up, fell off flat on my back and concussed myself. I got up, felt just a bit wobbly but OK. Come Friday, day of the test I was in agony as a result of three broken ribs. I staggered through the test and managed to pass but three weeks off work. With that all done now I was bored so decided to change the carport and give it a coat of paint. Doing the final bit of painting and had to stretch a bit up the ladder. Oops, sorry for that, I’m flat on the floor once again and cannot move. The Paramedics came, off to hospital with a smashed pelvis. This time two months in hospital bed and then another ten months on crutches before they could operate. I’m now the proud owner of a titanium hip. Welcome to Australia!! My dear wife is now the money earner, justly so after all the years I supplied the money!! She is loving it, doing caring for persons younger than herself. Barbara and I now live in Bundaberg, Queensland and are close to two of our grandsons. We sell biltong in the market every Sunday and will now start doing our own coffee roasting and marketing”.
R.J. Holderness - James. Here are my recollections of the last fifty-three years, ones where we were blessed and challenged in abundance. During that time technology swept us off our feet. I clearly remember being envious of my mate when he got a ringing bell (just invented) for his bicycle. A pay packet composed of a few pound – but Wow! Wasn’t life great. Gwebi was the greatest foundation to life that one could ever wish for. It put every problem into perspective, particularly having a mate to share the load with. My first opportunity to make a mark on the world with my newly acquired Diploma in Agriculture was on Templeton Ranch near Banket working for John Cowell. UDI was declared by Ian Smith and sanctions were imposed resulting in no managers required so I got my marching orders. I packed my bags and invaded England. I found a piggery on the outskirts of Henley-on-Thames needing a manager – picked up a caravan and Ford Poplar for £20 then spent a year feeding my neighbors. This acquaintance proved to mould my career. I was approached by Punch Barlow of Barlow Rand empire, to manage his estate and piggery at Balgowan in Natal which is some 100 kms inland from Durban. Life has these “amazing” fortuitous turn of events that my greatest mate from school was employed on the same estate. I spent the next thirty years on Bosch Hoek – general manager of piggery, dairy, beef, sheep, timber and golf course. A change in ownership and I bought the 500 sow unit and leased the piggery. The greatest miracle was finding my wife Di at the local pub in Nottingham Road where she had gone with a nursing friend from Durban, having just returned from overseas. We have two children, now both over forty years old, both married and living within 20 kms and four grandchildren, with a fifth on the way.
We eventually stopped pig farming and went dairy farming on nearby farms, building up to 500 pedigree Jersey cows. Ten years ago we pulled out of farming and moved into a retirement village called Amberglen in Howick, KZN.
Di has found the change to Geriatric Nursing both challenging and rewarding. There are a vast number of retirement villages in the area, so Di continues to work, having now specialized in Advanced Wound Care.
During the last ten years I have been a jack-of-all-trades, working for catering companies, cooking, delivering meals, running the bar, etc. etc. I’ve also planted instant lawn round all the new developments and being a rep on the road selling gumboots and overalls to farmers!
This last year has been my best – managing a small dairy herd milking 150 cows, all the milk being processed into cheese – my main task is ensuring a healthy, happy and productive herd of Jersey cows and getting paid for doing it.
C. Howard - Charles. aka ‘Nature Boy’ or ‘Naitch’. Also disappeared off the radar.
P.J. Huckle - "PJ" was educated through REPS and Plumtree School, the combination of schools which most rural male Matabelelanders seemed to attend. He fulfilled his pre-Gwebi practical training on Kent Estate near Norton and after graduating, as with most of C14, went straight down to Llewellin Barracks to complete his four-and-a-half months military training. Thereafter he joined the Huckle family farm, Croome, in the Turk Mine (Inyathi) farming area. PJ then branched out on his own in 1972 with Allendale Farm, gradually acquiring several other farms in the Turk Mine and Fort Rixon areas. This increased acreage, including Altyre Ranch where he also grew wheat and other crops, and Mayfair and Hamilton farms in the Fort Rixon area, allowed him to run a large cattle enterprise. PJ favoured a cross of Hereford/Charolais bulls on Brahman females then proceeding to Tuli bulls, which proved to be an ideal combination for that part of Matabeleland. As with almost all farmers and ranchers in Zimbabwe this highly successful farming enterprise was gradually destroyed as the acreage required to carry an economical and viable herd of cattle was whittled away by the land invasions and now all that PJ remains with is 500 hectares on his home farm where he survives by growing out weaner steers and producing potatoes for the local market. In his spare time PJ enjoyed flying and had his own aircraft which he used to visit his various farms. In his younger days he played Matabeleland Country Districts cricket. He also enjoyed fishing and built his own forty foot cabin cruiser on the farm for the use of family and friends on Lake Kariba. Weekly tennis at the local club was another leisure activity.
F.G. Jellicoe - Guy.
I attended Falcon College and started Gwebi with Course 14 in 1962 to 1964 with the best students ever. These were some of the best days of my life and the whole Course still keeps in touch with each other but unfortunately we have lost several of our good shamwaris. After Gwebi I farmed in Umvukwes for three years and during that time, in 1966, I married Pat Nelson who I had met whilst at Gwebi. We farmed mainly tobacco, maize and cattle. In 1968 we moved to Centenary where I managed farms for Vic Hurley and Jack Quinton. Our daughter Dianne was born in 1968 and our son Trevor in 1970. We had many happy years at Centenary until the terrorist war started. In 1973 sadly our farm was attacked and my Dad, Leslie Jellicoe who had been visiting from the UK, was killed in our house. This tragedy marked the end of my farming days in Rhodesia. Our family travelled to the UK to sort out my Dad’s estate and lived there for eighteen months. In the mean time I managed to find work in the agricultural field which involved high pressure water cleaning of pig sties and chicken farms. The family returned to Rhodesia in 1975 and I started a small business in Salisbury doing high pressure water cleaning which was successful for seven years and both our children did their junior schooling in Salisbury. In 1981 our family were lucky to be accepted as immigrants into Australia and we packed up and moved everything to Perth. We have never looked back. We soon found out that if you are prepared to work hard, Australia is the land of opportunity. My wife and I started up our own company Woma (Australia) Pty Ltd in 1982 which started as a sales outlet which imported big HP pumps from Germany. After twelve months we built our own 120 HP machine and started a contracting division. The contracting division became well known worldwide especially in aluminium and oil refineries. Trevor, our son and now an Engineer, is also very involved with the business. In 1991 I had a major industrial accident and was out of action for eighteen months but Trevor and Pat managed to continue with running the business. In 2000 our company was approached by a large French company to purchase the contracting division of Woma which now employed 450 people worldwide. The sale was successful which left us with only the Engineering and Technical side of the business which Trevor now runs and develops. Prior to my accident Course 14 held a tremendous Gwebi Reunion in 1990 at Rhodes Inyanga in Zimbabwe which was attended by the whole course coming from all parts of the world except of course those that are now deceased. Course 14 took over the whole hotel for five days. I had always wanted to get back to country life and in 1993 purchased our little piece of paradise, Jutland Park in Serpentine, Western Australia, which is one hour’s drive south of Perth. I am proud to say that I run one of the best Red Angus stud cattle herds in Australia and we also enjoy our thoroughbred horses. We have been blessed with four beautiful grandchildren – Dianne has two boys and a girl and Trevor has a son, and we are very proud of them all. The whole family is happily settled in Australia.
T.A.V. Kabot -Terry. I started my schooling at Rhodes Estate Preparatory School (REPS) in the Matopos and finished off at Christian Brothers College (CBC) in Bulawayo. I attended Gwebi from 1962 to 1964. After leaving Gwebi, I started work at Hippo Valley Estate as an Assistant Section Manager on the Sugar Estate, and became a Section Manager in about 1967. The main highlight of this period was organizing the “Plane Load”. There were no single young ladies in Chiredzi at this time so after a few too many beers one Saturday afternoon we decided to hire a Dakota and invite any young ladies from Salisbury to a party in Chiredzi. Fortunately one of the original organizers was Denis Rossouw who was the manger of the local Rhodesian Air Charters who would end up doing quite a lot of the Salisbury end of the organization. If I remember a Dakota could seat about 30 odd people, so we set about getting 30 Chiredzi bachelors to buy into the scheme, at a cost of about 15 Pounds each for the hire of the plane. No problem. Denis placed an advert in the Herald inviting any young unattached ladies to a weekend party in Chiredzi to be at the airport 2:30 Friday afternoon. As I recall the plane arrived at about 4:30 on the very dusty Chiredzi air strip, with thirty odd bachelors waiting to greet them. It must have been quite a shock to the girls. After a general milling about the girls were all transported to the club and the party started, lasting till Sunday morning 9:30 when they had to catch the plane back to Salisbury. A book could be written on what took place over that weekend and two guys eventually married the girls they met. My bachelors days were over when I married Avril, Mike Roscoe’s sister, and settled down to married life. Around 1970 I got into my head that I need to go to University. Terry Pearce was at Utah State University studying irrigation so I thought I would follow him to the same University. This was easier said than done as we were in the middle of the sanctions era, however perseverance won, and Avril and I, plus Lance and Ian ended up at USU in 1973 and graduated in 1975. I was, believe it or not, given a lot of credit hours for the Gwebi Diploma, which reduced the time spent at University. Shortly after our return to Chiredzi Avril started to feel very ill and after many tests at Andrew Fleming hospital it turned out she had Leukaemia. The treatment in Salisbury was not working so we were told to seek treatment at Groote Schuur in Cape Town. As you can imagine this caused a great upheaval but the treatment seemed to be working at this famous hospital but it would be over an extended period, so I started to look for a job. In late 1976 I did get a job with a company which specialized in drip irrigation, which I had covered at USU. The company decided I would be better off in the export market as I did not speak Afrikaans and this resulted in me working in South America - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and also Mauritius. A short book could be written on my South American adventures, starting with three coups in Bolivia to mention just a few. During this period Avril stayed in remission with treatments every 6 weeks, with fairly good quality of life. Unfortunately in 1979 the disease became acute, treatment was failing to keep her in remission and she died on the 16th of June. I continued in the export market until about 1982, when the company was taken over by a large firm who decided to pull out of South America and concentrate on regional countries including Mauritius. In 1983, I married my present wife Susan, and life became less hectic and more orderly. However things didn’t stay the same for long as I was retrenched in 1989, and so decided to start my own company Irrigation Exports, serving the same clients I had previously worked with. I really don’t understand how these big corporate companies work - throwing away existing markets all on a whim. In the early nineties Sue and I added two more boys to the clan, Guy and Matthew. I carried on with my company doing quite well in Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania and even Zim until it collapsed in 2000. In 2015 I finally retired and although I miss some of the work, I am glad to finally dump the stress of exporting and wondering if my erstwhile clients are going to pay in time - to have 1.5m Rand outstanding doesn't lead to a good night’s sleep. Lance married Linky, have one son, and both with degrees in Business Science, are involved with a craft brewery and restaurant in Cape St. Francis in the Eastern Cape. Ian, with a degree in IT, is married to Heather and they live in the States where he works on natural gas terminals and doing quite well. Ian has two step sons. Guy and Ashley are working in Jersey, USA. No children and they’re both Chartered Accountants. Matthew, still single, is working in Pretoria and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I suspect he will probably leave for an overseas appointment next year.
K.B.E. Levings - Ken. aka ‘Engineer’. Deceased. On graduating from Gwebi Ken joined Hippo Valley Estate in the Lowveld along with three other members of C14. He was married to Neva.
E.S. Martin - Edward Seymour aka ‘Ward.’ After a hail storm wiped out the family farm in the Eastern Transvaal, my father took a job as a ‘compound manager’ on one of the Barberton Mines. Here he met my mother who was in the secretarial department. She had landed the job as she was a daughter of the Edward Hancock/George Goch families who were big players in the early days of the Witwatersrand goldmines.
When my father was transferred up to Shabani Mine in Rhodesia he invited my mother to join him. They married there and I was born in Shabani in 1943. I was sent to Whitestone Primary School in Bulawayo and then to several junior schools in Salisbury before being settled at St George’s College from 1954 to 1961. I baled after getting a Subsidiary ‘A’ Level and my application to attend Gwebi was approved. I did my initial practical in forestry in Swaziland and then completed the time in Northern Rhodesia on tobacco farms in the Sibanyati Block of the Choma district. In those days the tobacco boom meant that a farm assistant could earn enough in tobacco bonuses to get his own farm in three years and this was my plan.
During my time at Gwebi I did vac work for P.E.N. Nicolle and for Colonel Sweetman, both high profile farmers in the Banket area. But I was set on farming in Northern Rhodesia and so I applied for and was offered a job in the new Mkushi Block, east of Kapiri Mposhi. Hitching back to Gwebi from the interview I was attacked on the roadside by some pre-independence enthusiasts. Because of this, and following the advice of my former boss in Choma, I decided not to go back to the newly independent Zambia.
At Gwebi, ‘Mashaba’ Mills’ girlfriend Libby had organised with her dad for some of his mates to do our military service in the Air Force after we graduated. To fill in the time until the call-up, I took a caretaker type job on Norwi Farm in the Horseshoe Block. I was in the Air Force for about two hours when they decided that the vision in my right eye was not up to Air Force standards, so I had to say cheers to ‘Mashaba’ and the others and left them to it.
I was now at a loose end and, as I had been spoiled by the farming milieu in NR, I could find no equivalent in SR. A job was advertised for a field assistant for Rhodesia Plantations Ltd. in the Eastern Highlands so I landed up on a large tea estate on the Mozambique border north of Umtali at the foot of the Inyangombe Mountains. The army is not nearly as fussy as the air force and I pushed my four and a half months at Llewellin Barracks during tea estate time.
During the three years I was on the estates I developed an interest in rocks and minerals, especially gem stones and decided to apply to Rhodes University to do a degree in geology. I was accepted as I had ‘proof of further study’ in the form of my Gwebi Diploma and a ‘mature age exemption’ as I was now twenty four years old and a responsible citizen.
So, having been born into a family split between farmers and miners, my initial choice was to take the farming route but circumstances dictated that I went mining. I graduated with a B.Sc. from Rhodes in 1970 and took to geology like I was born to it and have spent my life looking for and exploiting a large range of minerals.
My first geology job was at Mangula Mine in the in the Doma farming district. After five years on their mines I moved to RISCO in the Midlands to consolidate my experience in exploration geology. While there I was called up to 10th Battalion in Gwelo as a buckshee. Soon after independence we took off for sunny SA where I have spent my career in the JCI and Anglo American gold and platinum mines and exploration fields. These days I am a geological consultant for various agents.
I married Elaine Wiblin while at Rhodes and we have two sons and a daughter, all born in Mangula. They in turn have given us six grandchildren who, as all who have them know, have made our lives complete.
D.G. Meikle - Dave. aka ‘Earlybird’. Straight after graduating I fulfilled my four and a half months military commitment and remained as a territorial soldier for fifteen years. After my initial military training I joined Hippo Valley Estates in the Lowveld for two years as a Section Manager. In 1966 I bought a section of En Avant Farm in the Old Mutare farming area. We grew tobacco, maize, wheat, soyas, vegetables for export and cattle and, after twenty-six years, managed to pay off the whole farm. I married Irene in 1973 and we have six grandchildren from our three sons.
Besides our mixed farming I was heavily involved in our farming area and community as the Chairman of the Mutare Farmers Association for 10 years, the CFU Councillor representing Manicaland from 1982 to 1985, the President of the Manicaland Agricultural Show Society from 1989 to 1996, the Chairman of Mutare North ICA for 15 years, the Chairman of the Odzani River Irrigation Company for 12 years, a member of the Natural Resources Board from 1996 to 1998, an Environmental Auditor for the forestry industry, the President of the Mutare Rotary Club 2000, a Trustee of Hillcrest Schools and a Church Elder for 10 years.
After forty years on the farm the land invaders arrived on our doorstep and I was arrested, jailed and then evicted from our home and farm.
I have since run the Outward Bound Course in the Chimanimani for the last eight years and retire at the end of 2017 with no pension. However I am proud to have influenced 14,000 students with our unique outdoor education.
I.A. Meikle - Tony. aka ‘Tones’ or ‘Walanga’. Deceased. Tony farmed in the Odzani area and worked for many years as a technical adviser for Agricura where he won the Top Salesman award several times. He was a well known animal lover and expert on aviaries and birds. Tony never married but, as his cousin Dave says, had many happy liaisons but no lady managed to get him to the altar. It is believed he passed away about eight years ago.
K.D. Mills - Keith. aka ‘Mashaba’. Deceased. Keith was born in Salisbury and grew up in Shabani and Mashaba. He was a boarder at GuineaFowl School for his high school years and then attended Gwebi Agricultural College. After leaving Gwebi Keith did his three months national service with the Air Force at New Sarum, Salisbury. He then worked as a farm assistant for John Jones on Sodbury Farm, Darwendale, until August 1967 when he married Libby Smith in Salisbury. From 1967 to 1973 Keith worked for Farmer's Co-op, Salisbury as a stockfeeds salesman and then moved to Palte-Harris, initially on their feedlot at Lake McIlwaine, and then as a stockfeeds salesman and during this time their four children were born - two sons and two daughters. In December 1980 they emigrated to Natal, South Africa where Keith worked for National Co-Operative Dairies and they lived in Matatiele, Natal. It was a terrible experience and in November 1981 Keith resigned and got a job with Hoechst as a veterinary salesman in the Eastern Cape and they lived in Queenstown. By December 1984 Hoechst had promoted Keith to Regional Sales Manager for the whole of the Cape Province and the family moved to Port Elizabeth but in March 1991 the Hoechst veterinary department was taken over by another international company and Keith was retrenched.
Keith started to lose his voice, which made interviews very difficult for him when seeking new employment. His doctor told him it was due to 'stress laryngitis' and it would get better! Meanwhile Keith decided to qualify as a real estate agent. He completed the course and passed the examinations.
At this stage Libby says that Keith always longed to go back to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He left his heart there, and found it very stressful trying to rebuild their lives in South Africa. She is sure this, together with the fact that he smoked cigarettes, added to his health problems.
Sadly In November 1991 he was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. He never worked again. He underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and numerous operations, one of which was to remove his larynx completely (done on our 25th wedding anniversary!). He could no longer speak and had to write everything down on paper when he wanted to communicate with us. He had a trachy inserted in his throat so that he could breathe through the trachy and bypass where the cancer was blocking his windpipe.
Keith fought very bravely and never complained, but sadly lost the battle and went to be with the Lord on 11 September 1993 at the age of 49. He was a committed Christian in the latter part of his life.
Libby and her children decided that they did not want to continue living in South Africa and in 1996 emigrated to Australia. Libby looks back now and finds it hard to believe that Keith died so young. He missed out on so much...seeing his children grow up, attending University, getting married and having children. He would be so proud of them if he could see them now. In 2004 Libby married Dennis Carter - an Australian she met in Perth, Western Australia but that, as she says, is another whole story!
O.H.E.F. Newton - Oliver. aka ‘Ollie’ or ‘Zac’. Deceased. Oliver Henry Edward Francis Newton was born in Harare on the 20th June 1943. His Father had sadly died in North Africa a few months before he was born. He attended Ruzawi School and then Peterhouse. After school he went to Gwebi and afterwards did an overland trip to the UK in a Ford Cortina and this set the scene of a life full of excitement! On his return he joined Conex as an Extension Officer based in the then Umtali, where he met and married Daphne McCullaugh, a French teacher at the High School. The family then moved to Bindura as Oliver had inherited Pimento Park from his Great Uncle, Sir Francis Newton. Oliver was only able to occupy the farm at 27, so decided he needed to get the feel of the area, so worked as a manager on a nearby farm, but was dismissed for attending a friend’s wedding! On moving onto Pimento he quickly decided that irrigation was the way forward and started to develop one of the biggest cotton farms in the area.
He was a member of The Bindura Round Table, the Gliding Club and, with friends, bought a Tiger Moth and learnt to fly. Sadly Daphne developed cancer and died, leaving him with two small girls, Deborah and Theresa, still only three and two.
In 1975 he married an English girl Sarah Nicholls who came out as an Occupational Therapist to work on the Children’s Unit at St. Giles Rehab Unit in Harare. He became a founder member of The Rhodesia Party, as he believed that a change in the political landscape was necessary for the country to go forward. He was a member of PATU and after Independence, was very active in setting up a Community Co-ordinating Committee to help communications between all parties. He was also Chairman of The Bindura Show Society.
Oliver and Sarah had four more children, Claire, Charles, Caroline and Edward so life was hectic with four different schools and school runs to juggle! But Oliver was actively involved with the CFU and was Chairman of Winter Cereals, and set up The Horticultural Promotion Council and was its first Chairman. By this time he had established export roses and Hypericum on the farm.
Sadly, in 2000 he became seriously ill and, after a determined fight, died of Pancreatic Cancer in May 2002. Pimento Park was taken over in the Land Grab but luckily he died believing that one section would remain in the family, but this was not to be and the farm was taken over completely in October 2002.
Ollie will always be remembered for his tenacity, determination, foresight and a big and powerful laugh, and despite being desperately ill, he was always “Fine, Fine!”
T.G. Paulet - Tim. After leaving Gwebi Tim completed his National Service and joined Wright Rain working for them on irrigation projects in Malawi and Mozambique. Thereafter he joined National Parks and during the war was in their VTU (Voluntary Tracker Unit). He stayed in Parks for twenty years and whilst with them lived on most Stations with the exception of Hwange. Tim left Victoria Falls in 1982 to school the children in Harare and then in 1988 resigned from Parks to form Wildlife Management Services together with Doug Hensberg. They worked together on game capture and translocation for the next twenty years in Zambia, Botswana as well as Zimbabwe and became well known authorities in this scientific, practical and difficult business. Tim now owns a trucking company and still does chemical capture when needed. Tim is married with two adult sons who are also married.
J.L. Pendered - John. I was educated at St. George's College in Salisbury and after qualifying from Gwebi went to work for John and Paul Zeibari at Haydock Park Farm at Banket for a few years.
In 1971 I decided to move to Malawi and joined the JP Stevens Tobacco group near Mount Mulanje in the Southern region. In 1974 I met and married Doena Kilner from Limbe. In 1977 we were transferred to Mchinji district in Central Malawi to open up virgin bush on a large Estate leased from Government .... this was something I had always wanted to do.
In 1986 we had the opportunity to go on our own, formed our own company and remained on the same leased Estate we had opened up.
In 2001 we were able to purchase our own beautiful farm Gada Estates which bordered on the Mchinji forest reserve near Zambia. Here we did mixed farming consisting of flue and burley tobacco, commercial and seed maize, soya beans, beef cattle and sheep. We continued running both Estates successfully and were joined by our son in 2013 after his completion at Cedara College and University in Natal.
We had also acquired a couple of Lakeshore properties near Salima, one of which was an old Cannery. This we converted into a resort with about 20 rooms and it became home to LADAC ... Lilongwe and District Angling Club. From here many fishing competitions were held over the years including International Competitions with the SA Artlure Proteas coming up regularly most years.
A large back operation in 2016 encouraged me to retire after 54 years in agriculture and active farming.
M.D. Roscoe - Mike. Deceased.
“On leaving Gwebi in 1964 I joined Hippo Valley Estates on 1 January 1965. Myself, Rob Beswick, Ken Levings, Terry Kabot were all Course 14.We joined members of Course 13 who were already at Hippo. They were Terry Pearse, Jeremy Curtoys, Mike Bullock and Roy Porritt.
"We all started as Assistant Section Managers. By the end of 1965 I was promoted to section manager on one of the sections on the Estate. In 1971 I was promoted to Assistant Field Manager controlling 10 Sections. Further promotion to Field Manager in 1974 controlling 24 Sections totalling approximately 10,000 hectares of cane with a livestock section.
"In 1977 I left Hippo to join the Umfolozi Sugar Mill in Zululand, South Africa.
"In 1986 I was successful in my application to take over one of the farms allocated by the department of Agriculture in South Africa on the Umfolozi Flood Plain area. My farm was 120 ha and produced 1200 tons of cane.
"I sold the farm in 2005 but retained my House Site and only left the Umfolozi area to come to the Cape in 2009. I now live in Greyton in the Western Cape with my wife Annette. My three sons are all overseas, two in England and one in America."
Mike passed away on 8th September, 2019 in South Africa, apparently from a heart attack.
H.W. Smithyman - Wilf. aka Spiv. Having spent six wonderful years at Plumtree School in Matabeleland, his deep passion for nature and its wonders stimulated a desire to embrace farming as a career.
To that end in January 1962, he started as an assistant farm manager on Chikonyora Farm in the Horseshoe Block, Sipolilo. He left 31st August 1962 to attend Gwebi Agricultural College. Gwebi provided a great foundation to his farming career and also enlightened him to the dangers of social decadence.
Having completed his army training he managed a small Tobacco farm in Mtorashanga and with his bonus of 350 Pounds, he set off on a world working tour. His travels took him initially to the UK where he experienced the extremes of English country life. He bought an old Commer van, and with a few friends travelled all through Europe, ending up in Pamplona, Spain for the ‘Running of the Bulls’.
He then braved the Canadian winter on a Dairy Farm and sweltered through the summer on a Tobacco farm. He spent the next year travelling across Canada and the USA, farming in as many states as he could. He worked on a large grain property in Alberta, Canada and in the Burley tobacco industry in Kentucky. He picked oranges in Florida and did commercial fishing off the Bahamas and worked in the Citrus and Date Groves in the Cochella Valley, California. After two and half years he left the Americas for Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. In Australia he worked in grape vineyards, wheat stations and cattle ranches. After nearly 4 years of travelling, 4 luxury liner boat trips across the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans and living on four different continents, he decided to return home to Rhodesia and join his parents on the family farm. In 1974 he married, Vivienne (nee Widger) from Ireland. Despite the dangerous environment of the Terrorist War, they were blessed with 3 lovely daughters, Ruth Anne, Sally Jane and Dawn Rose. They sold the family farm in Umvukwes and purchased a farm in the Horseshoe Block, Sipolilo where they spent the next 20 years developing a very successful tobacco farming enterprise, only to be faced with the disastrous activities of a racially motivated politician. They were forced off their farm, losing all that they had invested in over 30 odd years. With, precious little money, 60 years behind him, an extremely supportive, loyal and loving wife, three well educated highly intelligent daughters, a Plumtree School and Gwebi Agricultural College education and an abundance of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual awareness, he moved to Australia to start a new life. Wilf secured a small Avocado property in the foothills of the Border Ranges National Park, north of Kyogle, New South Wales, Australia. Times were tough, capital extremely short and labour expensive and they survived seven years but with the Global Financial Crisis they had to sell up. They moved near Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula where they have retired with their girls and their respective families close by.
W.H. Street - William. aka ‘Billy’. Started with C14 but was rusticated due to his panties raid, along with others, on George Fleming Girls Hostel (formerly known as SACS Hostel) in Salisbury. However he was allowed back and graduated with C15 and his life story will be recorded with them.
D.N.S. Tomlinson - Derek. Deceased. Derek left Gwebi before graduating to join National Parks 1965 when he realised that it was a career in wildlife rather than agriculture that he wished to follow. He left NPWS in 1977 having served as an Ecologist and during that time he obtained a Certificate in Field Ecology, which was a two year course at the University of Rhodesia, as well as a B.Sc. After immigrating to South Africa Derek continued his studies and had almost completed his Doctorate when he tragically died. Below is his citation when he was awarded the M.F.C. for bravery during our Rhodesian bush war. Derek is survived by his wife Patricia and three sons. The citation for the award of Military Forces Commendation – Operational: For devotion to duty. Rifleman Tomlinson, a member of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, together with two African assistants, was deployed as the tracking element of a follow-up group of 2 Commando 1st Battalion, the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Due to the skills of Tomlinson and his African assistants, the group speedily followed terrorist tracks through thick bush and difficult terrain until making contact with 20 to 30 terrorists in their base camp. In this initial contact, eight terrorists were killed, four of whom were accounted for personally by Rifleman Tomlinson. Upon the surviving terrorists fleeing, an immediate pursuit was organised by four members of the follow-up group, one of whom was Tomlinson. A running contact took place over some 2000 yards and lasted for three hours, during which a further nine terrorists were accounted for. Rifleman Tomlinson’s skill as a tracker, coupled with his aggressive spirit and marksmanship, played a major part in the success of this engagement.
J.F. Trouncer - John. After Graduation, John joined most of his course on call-up to National Service in the Army. He took off for two years after that working passage on boats and finding work on farms in Europe, Canada, USA and Australia. On his return he managed for R.G. Pascoe who was RNFU President from 1972-4. After three years with Ronnie in Shamva, John bought a farm in the Porte Valley (between Bindura and Shamva) where he grew cotton, maize and ran a 60 sow piggery. By 1975/6 security conditions had deteriorated in the area, but he was able to sell the farm lock, stock and barrel to a farmer who had relocated from Chiredzi. John and Margaret decided to apply to immigrate to Australia but this was a slow process. John then joined Tilcor (Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation) in Salisbury and provided agronomic advice and logistic help to cotton estates in the northern Zambezi valley and Sanyati. By 1977 their approval for Australia came through. John gained employment with the help of an Australian whose father had been in the Diplomatic Service in Pretoria, and was then employed on a new venture in Western NSW. John started from scratch laying irrigation pipes and doing tractor work, then graduated to be their Agronomist and two years later was the Farm Manager responsible for 13,000 acres of irrigated cotton and about 80 staff. After ten years John then joined the Narromine Crop Centre, an Agronomy and Merchandising farming business. After another ten years in Narromine, he then moved to Dubbo where he has his own business doing home renovation and maintenance. John is an avid golfer, married with two daughters who live in Sydney with five grandchildren. Course 14 had a 25 Year Reunion in 1989 held at Inyanga, with an exceptional roll-up from Course 14, who came from all over the world. Only three or four students from that year were unable to make it. They have since attended a 'mini' Australian Reunion in Bateman's Bay where the five Aussie Course 14 families got together, with another planned in the very near future.
B.M. Tuke - Brian. aka ‘Buzzard’. Deceased. Brian went to school at Prince Edward in Salisbury and then to Gwebi with C14. After graduating from Gwebi Brian started working for Bob Townsend at Munaka Park Farm in Mtorashanga. This beautiful farm was an absolute showpiece and many prominent overseas visitors were taken out there over the years. Brian was a REAL farmer ... a true man of the soil ... loved being on the farm and disliked town visits! Bob Townsend had taken Munaka Park to a very high standard and with Brian joining, together they took it to an even higher level. This farm, back in the sixties, had been among the first farmers to introduce the Charolais breed of cattle from France into the country and used to exhibit regularly at the Salisbury Agricultural Show. Brian married a lovely lady, Frances Dodd from Banket and together they had two children, Bryony and Kyle. Munaka Park was a mixed farm doing tobacco, maize, seed maize, beef cattle and the special Charolais herd ... all done to perfection! As Bob Townsend had no family who wished to carry on farming after him, Brian and Frances were able to buy their way into the Company and upon Bob's eventual demise took over the ownership and running of Munaka. Ultimately the farm was sold but Brian was not very well at this stage and they moved to Harare and ran a nursery - Frances was an excellent gardener. They also acquired a beautiful property on the water's edge at Mazvikadei near Banket and another in the Vumba. Brian very sadly passed away about six years ago and is survived by Frances and their two children.
A.J. van Blerk - Arthur. aka ‘Blik’. Deceased. Arthur was another son of Matabeleland and was room mate with Dave Wrench in his First Year. Upon graduating from Gwebi, Arthur returned to the family farm, Journey’s End, which was situated in the Ntabazinduna farming area near Bulawayo. Arthur’s parents had started this farm as part of the Imbizo Small Holdings and was about 500 acres in extent which was large enough, with the help of dry land maize, to carry a small Dairy Herd of about 50 cows as well as breeding pigs. Arthur married Margaret who had two children, Louis and Cathy from a previous marriage, whom Arthur adopted. Arthur was remembered in the district as an efficient and hardworking farmer and was Chairman of the Bulawayo Landowners Farmers’ Association. Both he and his wife enjoyed cycling, playing tennis and squash. Blick was bitten by a stray dog in 2002 and sadly he did not seek medical attention and he died later in Bulawayo from rabies. In the same year Margaret also passed away.
D. Wrench - Dave aka ‘Spanner’. Born 21st May 1944. My parents owned and lived on Gwebi Junction Farm, Darwendale. My Great Grandfather George Wrench together with my Grandfather Leonard Wrench bought Tankatara Farm in Norton in 1912. However they moved together with my father Kenneth to Gwebi Junction Farm some years later leaving Tankatara Farm to my grandfather's half brother Billy (Wilfred) Wrench. In 1946 my father sold Gwebi Junction farm and bought and moved to Twinlands Farm, Gatooma (now Kadoma) where I was raised. I attended Plumtree School from 1958 to 1961 and then went to Gwebi College in September 1962 with Course14. After leaving Gwebi, I and a number of fellow students, went straight into the army to do our national service before going in to farming. After national service I started work as an assistant manager on Ayrshire Farm, Banket working for Mr. Nevis Watkins. We grew tobacco and maize as the primary crops and there was also a small dairy herd which I was responsible for. Shortly after UDI in 1965 Nevis decided that there was very little future for the tobacco industry in Rhodesia due to British sanctions that were imposed on Rhodesia and the loss of the preferential price that was paid on tobacco from Rhodesia. As a result of this decision I was made redundant. I then joined Internal Affairs as a Revenue Officer for a short period and was stationed at Concession . Unfortunately I contracted typhoid fever whilst on an army call up and was laid off work for 6 months on medical grounds. In 1967 I secured a job as farm manager with Mr. Norman Travers of Imire Farm Wedza. Whilst there I was responsible for the production of irrigated tobacco, the cultivation of vlei maize, which we were pioneers of the concept of vlei cultivation in Rhodesia, and I was also in charge of a large cattle and sheep enterprise. The farming operations was carried out on three different farms. I was fortunate to witness and to be involved with the early stages of the setting up of the now world renowned Imire Safari Park. In April 1971 I married my wife Judith Hudson who was the daughter of a Wedza farmer/store keeper and shortly after our marriage we left Imire and we travelled overseas for a short time before returning to Rhodesia to continue farming. In late 1971 I secured a farm manager's job with Mr. Raymond Fisher of Hurlingham Farm, Bindura. However this was not a successful job so I left after just seven months and secured a job with Mr. Bill Swanson back in Wedza on Markwe farm. I worked there for two seasons before I decided to go and try farming on my own and I was lucky enough to be one of the very first tenant farmers to be selected under the then AFC's new Tennant Farming Scheme. In Sept 1972 I secured a 5 year lease on Idube Farm, Wedza from Mr. Peter Purcell-Gilpin. I grew 30 hectares of dry land tobacco annually on the farm. Sadly in 1979 Mr. Gilpin and Alastair, his 4th eldest son, were killed by terrorists after visiting the farm on their return trip to their home. It was during our time here that both my daughter Angela 1974 and my son Ryan 1977 where born. After five successful years leasing Idube Farm I decided to buy my own farm and I bought Mount Arthur Farm in Wedza in late 1979 . I grew 30 hectares of irrigated tobacco and maize on the farm and started breeding my first herd of Tuli x Sussex cattle. However in 1981 just after Independence I sold the farm and emigrated to South Africa for two years. Before leaving Zimbabwe I managed to lease out my cattle herd to a farmer in Wedza and I also stored all my basic farming equipment on a friend’s farm in Wedza which enabled me to set up a farming operation easily on my return to Zimbabwe as I still had my cattle and farm equipment. Whilst in South Africa I got a job as Assistant to the General Manager of Crocodile Valley Citrus Estate before moving to Melmouth in Natal where I had a job as an Agricultural Consultant with the Kwazulu Natal Development Corporation. In 1984 I returned to Zimbabwe and went into partnership with my cousin Tuppy Wrench for three years on his farm Beersheba in the Norton District. In 1987 I leased a farm in the Norton district called Roscommon from Mr. Mark Partridge where I once again grew 30 hectares of tobacco and continued to develop my cattle herd. In 1990 I purchased my farm Homedale in the Norton/Selous district where I grew 30 hectares of supplementary irrigated tobacco, 30 hectares of Maize/Soyas also with supplementary irrigation and 30 hectares of winter irrigated wheat/barley. I was also able to develop my cattle herd which by now I had switched to breeding Tuli x Limousin cross bred cattle. I built a new 7 bay water heated tobacco curing system with was extremely labour saving and also very coal burning efficient. However sadly in August 2002 we, like so many other farmers in Zimbabwe, were evicted from the farm. Initially we moved into a house in Norton town. My wife went to England and started working as a carer to earn money for so we could continue to live in Zimbabwe. Luckily by then both my children had finished schooling and university and had moved to the UK. My daughter is a veterinary surgeon and now has her own veterinary practice in Devon and my son had graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and now works in the oil industry. I continued to live in Zimbabwe and in 2004 I got a job growing roses on a farm near Lake Chivero but after 18 months we were evicted yet again so we moved into a house in Harare. I managed to get a job for a further 18 months setting up and then running a fuel depot in Harare. In 2011 we finally made a decision to move to the UK permanently. We are now living in a town called Minehead in Somerset on the Bristol Channel on the edge of Exmoor National Park and my wife continues to do live-in caring and is currently caring for a lady who lives on a farm near Minehead. So our connection with the farming world continues.
Consolidated by Colin Lowe
Charles Howard (also known as Nature Boy) and his Mozambique Spitting Cobra as told by Ward Martin (Course 14).
Mashaba Mills and I were always independently late for lectures, for some unknown reason. One afternoon we were heading down to the lecture hall when Nature Boy (Naitch), who should have been at lectures as well, came running up the path towards us, swinging a long snake over his head like a cowboy with a lasso, ‘Turn your heads and don’t look’ he yelled, ‘this is a spitting cobra.’
It seems that the Mozambique Spitting Cobra or M'fezi had the good luck to cross the path just in front of Naitch; probably the only guy amongst us who wouldn’t have killed it out of hand. Naitch had dropped his lecture stuff and scrambled into the bush after the cobra. He had just grabbed it by the tail and pulled it out when we came along.
He ran up to the car park and popped the snake into the boot of his car and then came charging back to lectures. After the classes we went back with him to see what he was going to do with it. But he couldn’t find the snake. There were no tracks in the dust under where the car was parked so it hadn’t escaped and we assumed that nobody had been there to steal it, so the snake must still be inside the car.
It is a bit disconcerting to lose a spitting cobra in your car, especially when you are planning to go to town to take your chick out that evening. Eventually Naitch sat back in despair, leaned back in his driver’s seat and looked up. There, in the padding of the roof, was a little bulge, quite a large little bulge, and a relieved Naitch cut a slit in his roof padding and retrieved his snake, which he put in a box to take to the snake park and flog for pocket money.
Pete Drummond (C16) about Keith Mills (Course 14).
Keith was my boss at Farmers Co-op Stockfeeds, Salisbury, and taught me a huge amount of valuable and useful knowledge on how to become a good advisor to farmers. Keith was in charge of all the reps at Farmers Co-op who were all Gwebi graduates. Dave Moss C16 and Tim Lewis C12 were part of that team. We always met at the Meikles downstairs pub on Friday afternoon to conclude our weekly performance and drank many beers to celebrate our successes.
We became close family friends and particularly Lindsey and Libby as well. Keith and Libby moved to Port Elizabeth where he continued doing the same work consulting with farmers and advising them on animal nutrition. When Keith passed away quite young, we met Libby in PE when we were all there for the world windsurfing competition. Our kids became friends and when Peter James and Shane went the next year to PE Technicon they continued visiting the Mills family.
Initiation by Ward Martin (Course 14)
At Gwebi we spent half the week doing practicals and three days a week at lectures.
Tea break at lectures comprised an army style catering urn with sweetened milky tea and tin mugs to drink it from, delivered to a wooden table under a huge Msasa tree near the single lecture hall. At one of our first tea breaks things got a little out of hand and the tea cups somehow became missiles and we all went back into lectures dripping a little bit from tea splashes. Next day we got the tea but they forgot to bring the cups, which made the tea hard to drink. When somebody complained to Stan Hodierne the Hostel Manager, he said they did not forget to bring the cups, but if we were going to treat government property like that, they were no longer going to supply us with cups.
So that afternoon some of the guys went to town and raided the waste bins at a garage to collect the empty oil tins. They did some brazing practice during the engineering practical, so that next week we could drink tea again. Some of those oil tins with tin handles brazed onto them were works of art.
So on the first day of lectures the following week we were drinking our tea, criticizing the other guy’s cups, when the seniors all arrived to visit us, presumably also to criticize our cups. To a man they declined to join us in a cuppa and when tea time was nearly over ‘Fatty’ (now called Paul) Taylor, one of the most enthusiastic of the initiators, instructed a couple of our guys to empty the tea urn out onto the ground. The selected guys were a bit reluctant to tip the tea urn, thinking that if we did such a thing Hodierne may also take our tea away and we then would not need our nice new cups anymore.
But Paul was insistent, cracking his cattle whip to emphasise his wish for us to empty out the urn. So a couple of the guys took it to the side of the tea area and tipped it. The contents splashed out at first and then started making plopping sounds. We all watched, fascinated as the tea ran out, leaving a large pile of meaty looking spheres with strings of sinewy stuff attached. The seniors were rolling around laughing and gradually Paul got control of himself and sputtered “So how did you guys enjoy your tea? Your pig ball tea?”
That’s how we found out that another Gwebi tradition was to keep a litter of piglets until initiation and then perform the castrations on the males when the time was ripe for the first year’s tea break. The seniors went on their way, looking like they had really enjoyed the joke and we drifted back into lectures, most of us looking a little green around the gills.
It certainly seemed to me that this farming caper was not for sissies and I was starting to have doubts as to the quality of the senses of humour displayed by some of these farmers. The following year when our turn came with C15 for some reason there was no litter of piglets for us to castrate, so their initiation was not quite as much fun as ours had been.
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