Between the furrows
Anecdotes from College and news afterwards
Tim R. Arnot. Tim. I started my education at the convent in Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia from where I was expelled at the age of five for painting a nun's habit while she was bending over talking to the child in front of me. Not a great start but I went on to St Andrews Prep School in Grahamstown and then on to Ruzawi and Peterhouse in Marandellas.
On completing my diploma at Gwebi in 1965 I joined the Tea Research Foundation in Mlanje, Malawi as farm manager and after four years went on to the Busa Products beef farm outside Limbe where I married Leila-Ann Fiddes-Wilson and had two children, Robert and Luke. Luke was diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy, incorrectly as it turned out, and we were advised to move down to South Africa close to medical facilities. I was lucky enough to be taken on as assistant farm manager under Bill Paterson on Lady Oppenheimer's stud Jersey and Brahman farm in Hekpoort outside Krugersdorp where I was for four years and where my daughter Philippa was born. After leaving there I moved on to the Hall and Sons farm in Mataffin outside Nelspruit as beef manager. This was a great area to work in, being half an hour outside the Kruger Park which we visited as often as we could but, as much as I enjoyed the work, I saw people retiring at the age of 65 to the Village of Happiness having never owned a property of their own. I attended an AI course at Onderstepoort and shortly after joined Taurus AI Co-op where I worked for 10 years at their Baynesfield bull station outside Pietermaritzburg. I was responsible for the southern Natal and East Griqualand area and soon got to know all the dairy farmers there as well as beef farmers mainly in the Hluhluwe area of northern Natal and Zululand.
During my time with Taurus I completed a B. Com degree so as to apply my grey matter to things other than cattle breeding. I also became interested in long distance running which was not surprising being as the Comrades Marathon is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban annually. What with studying for a B. Com, training for an hour every morning, on the road and visiting farmers every day, being away from home all week for most weeks my life was pretty full. Too full, as it turned out, and it cost me my marriage.
However, again I could not see much future in being a field officer for Taurus Co-op for the rest of my life, although I loved the work, receiving a cheque at the end of every month didn't seem to me to have much future and the Co-op mentality was not exactly stimulating. Therefore when a friend of mine, Bob McKenzie, suggested we start our own AI station I jumped at it. We battled to raise the capital but finally raised enough through the Small Business Development Corporation to start up.
All went well using local bulls Bob had identified which bred pretty well but we were restricted in that we could not offer enough bulls. I therefore sold semen from another private organisation and from Semex. However you can only cut the cake into so many pieces and the return was not great.
I had met up with an old friend from 30 years before who had had connections with the Australian cattle industry and she suggested I contact the Australian Holstein Society with a view to getting the agency to sell their semen in South Africa. As it turned out I knew the general manager of the AHS, Gerald Boyd-Clark and he referred me to Genetics Australia in Bacchus Marsh, outside Melbourne. I flew over there in January 1999, met with the Genetics Australia management team, was shown around a good number of herds and at the end of the trip was awarded the agency for Genetics Australia in South Africa.
I married Steph de la Cour in February 2000 and she had to put up with me being away visiting dairy and beef farmers throughout the length and breadth of South Africa, marketing the Australian bulls which luckily for me did very well. In June 2002 we bought a property in Lions River in the Natal midlands where we still live and will hopefully do so until we turn up our toes.
In February 2012 there was an outbreak of Johne’s Disease, or paratuberculosis, in Australia and all imports of semen from the Genetics Australia facility to South Africa were suspended. This effectively put me out of business and I could only sell the semen I had in stock, which was luckily quite considerable, but I was limited to this stock, I could not bring in any new bulls. I promptly had a stroke.
I was however fortunate on two counts, the ban on importing semen from Australia did not last long and I managed to get over the stroke reasonably quickly but it took a lot out of me and quite fortuitously at about this time the big Dutch company, CRV, offered to buy my Genetics Australia agency. I continued to do a limited amount of work for them for 3 years and in September 2015 I retired and Steph and I live an idyllic life here in the midlands of Natal with a small herd of Murray Grey cattle and 3 guest rondavels which we run as a B&B to keep us busy.
As my old Dad used to say, every successive 10 years of his life was happier than the last 10 and I can say the same. I have been fortunate.
A.M. Bisset. Alexander. aka ‘Sandy.’
Sandy was born on 12th June 1945, came from Sinoia, and was educated at Prince Edward School in Salisbury. At Gwebi, Sandy was the Editor of the ‘Gwebi Echoes’ in his Second Year. Graduating from Gwebi, he was the Runner Up for the Cairns Trophy. Sandy did all of his farming in Mashonaland and, after having done his national service in the Air Force, farmed as an assistant at Mbima Farm in Wedza from 1967 to 1972. Sandy and Yvonne McMaster were married in 1968 and have two daughters, Fiona and Anthea who are both married and have three children each. Fiona and her family are farming in Zambia, and Anthea and her family are doing mission work in Zimbabwe.
In 1972 Sandy started farming on Ruia Farm, Mvurwi, as Manager for Sandy Firks and later became Firks' partner. Then after a few years he bought the farm from Firks. Sandy was in his element. He became Councillor on ZTA and was on the CFU, and Chairman of the Farmers’ Association - the happiest years of his life. The farm was listed in 2000 and then in 2004 the farm was taken after which Sandy and Yvonne moved to Harare.
Sandy's health deteriorated. He had a couple of strokes, two hip replacements and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, which is similar to Dementia. Sandy had been a permanent patient in the Athol Evans Nursing Home in Harare but passed away aged 75 on Sunday 18th October, 2020. He left behind his special wife, Yvonne, daughters and sons-in-Law, Fiona & Sam, Anthea & Steve, and grandchildren Murray, Jeanette, Solomon and Iain, Fiona, Callah.
Peter Storey said:
‘Sandy Bisset was a VERY good farmer. I worked for Sandy Firks from 1969 to 1974 on "Umsengesi" in Umvukwes after which I bought my own farm. During that time Sandy Firks was President of the RTA and was also expanding his farming activities. In the first couple of years he bought adjoining farms, and in about '72 bought "Ruia" across at Msoneddi, and Sandy Bisset was hired as the manager. He turned that place from a run-down to a neat, tidy and productive farm very quickly ... most impressive, and no doubt the rest of his career was in the same vein. So, very sad to hear he can no longer remember the great things he has done.’
... and here are James Gilleran’s comments on Sandy:
‘I am most distressed to get the sad news about Sandy. Over my years in the Tobacco Industry, Sandy and I collaborated on a number of issues between the trade and the growers. After the initial misguided comments about “robbing buyers and crooked growers”, we worked very well together mainly due to our Gwebi bonds.
Whenever I had to host overseas buying teams who needed to see the farming side of tobacco, Sandy was the first grower I contacted and always went out of his way to assist. Another victim of the turmoil caused by the farm takeovers and not the last!’
I.C. Brebner. Ian aka ‘Brebs’. Deceased. Ian came from Bulawayo and attended REPS and then went onto Plumtree. After completing high school Ian did his military training before attending Gwebi. After graduating from Gwebi he worked with his brother Chris on the family farm in the Figtree area. In 1968 he married Jen and they had three sons, Trevor, Grant and Simon.
At this time the family bought an irrigation plot on the Mananda Dam. Ian ran this, growing maize and winter wheat for a couple of years. He also grew maize for the cattle on the Figtree and Luchaby Ranches. Ian took an active role in community life - being on the local ICA Committee, Police Reserve and Farmers Association as well as Chairman of REPS Board of Governors. Ian was murdered by dissidents on the 13th June 1983, who waited in ambush at a cattle watering point on the ranch. Ian was survived by two of his sons and has two grandchildren.
D.J. Bull. Dave. I didn't finish Gwebi because I returned to help on my Dad’s Igogo Farm at Kwekwe. I then enrolled at Cedara College in Natal where I obtained my Diploma. I returned to Rhodesia and did a tobacco season at Forrester Estates in Umvukwes. I then took up a position lecturing veld and pasture management and fish farming at Mlezu Agricultural School near Kwekwe.
An opportunity opened up as a sales engineer with Wright Rain. Roger Thompson, Rodney Rix, Dennis Stewart and Rob Franks were all there. The branch closed and I was retrenched while stationed at Chiredzi. I then joined Farmec in the Spares Department and ended up as Spares Manager in Chipinga until that branch also closed.
I emigrated to Joburg in 1981 but the lack of Afrikaans limited my opportunities in the agricultural field so I tried Motor Spares, Accessories and Construction.
I was Born Again in 1982 and have done couple of mission trips to Marondera/Wedza/Enterprise for farm labourers. After that I was Fire Extinguisher Service Technician. I then worked for myself by undertaking renovating and handyman work on my own. I later joined National Airways Corporation as a caretaker/handyman at their Lanseria Airport premises but I had a major cancer operation on my chest together with a muscle fatigue disease, so I’m very grateful to NAC for boarding me.
R. Clowes. Richard aka Rich. I went to school in Kongwa and then St. Michael’s and St.George’s School in Iringa, Tanzania. They were good times, travelling on a bus for two days from the family farm to get to school, all on dirt roads.
I did my pre-Gwebi with the Nicolle Brothers, Clive and Piers near Banket. My dad had purchased some Dorper sheep from P.E.N. Nicolle, their father, back in the 50s and hence the connection. I arrived a day late to start Gwebi so l missed the Broadbalk walk the first night of initiation! At 16 years old I was easily the youngest on the course but I had to get a Diploma as Tanzania was rapidly going downhill. Gwebi days will always be remembered and here are some of my favourite memories:
In my First Year Banjo was my roommate and I could not have been luckier, and in my second year Neil Stewart was my roommate whom we have known for a long time – our farms were only six miles apart in Tanzania. Iain, his older brother also went to Gwebi with C11, hence l also wanted to go to Gwebi.
Stan knew what we were up to at all times. The lawn grass had yellow circles (little fookers)!!!
When we did an electrical engineering practical with Bokdroll, we purposely wired a plug wrong – actually Tim Arnot was colour blind so we got him to do it. ‘You could have killed me,’ said Bokdroll, at which point we all roared with laughter!
Rod Mundy often frequented La Bohème and it was always fun when he was there and the tassel-tosser was fantastic! I have tried to get Nat to do it - lots of laughs!!
The George Hotel and Nick’s Cafe were also great fun. Because I came from Tanzania one of my Gwebi mates pointed at a girl sitting out on the verandah at the George Hotel and warned me that she was a lesbian. 'Oh,’ I said, ‘does she come from Lebanon?’ So green!
Jack Lane and his walk around the block whilst we quickly had a good swig of milk . I well remember hitching back to Gwebi in the early hours of the morning because I’d missed my lift.
‘So Long’, the Farm Manager, congratulated our group on completing the task of fertilizing the crop in record time, but little did he know that most of it ended up in the ant bear hole as we all knew he only walked ten yards into the field. A good lesson to all of us for learning what the labour force is really up to. I also remember the truck driver, Gamforo.
The lunchtime roasts were always fantastic on a Sunday at Gwebi. On one of our tours to the DMB, Mick Fletcher managed to uplift a 20 kg cheese from under their noses . All in a day's play and even the Police enjoyed the Gwebi guys!
After Gwebi I went back to the farm in Tanzania and loved every minute but we all left in 1968 due to politics and the Brits - say no more - as we all know the stories of how we were sold down the river, but luckily we all made a plan. In November 1968 I joined the Agronomy and Plant Breeding section of Gatooma Research Station where Alf Read was working on cotton pesticides.
From 1971 to 1978 I worked for the Rhodesian Wattle Company at Scalded Estate. I married Nat in 1973 and we had Belinda and Robert. I was successful growing Coffee with shade mulch and no irrigation and the Estate won a lot of awards. In 1978 we moved to Malawi with Chip Kay at Satemwa Tea Estate growing coffee. With mulch and a bit of labour management the coffee improved and I was then poached by Unilever to run their coffee set up in Mulanje. We spent 16 years in Malawi which was excellent and we made a lot of friends. I also achieved high coffee yields (mulch and irrigation).
In the late 90s my son Rob and I, leased two coffee farms in Chipinge and Rob half bought a farm before the shit hit the fan! He is now in Tanzania with Avos Coffee and very happy. Rob and his wife have three children, two at DSG and one at St. Andrew’s which are both in Grahamstown. Belinda is here in Harare - kiddy sports and employs one so-called artist making all sort of things for the home out of katengi material! Her one son, Jethro is at Stanford Lake College, Limpopo Province in South Africa and enjoys it there. I have been in coffee nearly all my life and even have some special varieties in Dandaro where we live and I have helped some farmers in Zambia, Tanzania as well as here. Moto Moto.
A.J. Coke Norris. Anthony John aka ‘Tony’, ‘Cocky’ or ‘Banjo’. Deceased. Banjo came from Umtali and went to primary school at Ruzawi in Marondera, then to senior school where he matriculated at St Andrew’s in Grahamstown, South Africa. Banjo worked for Escourt Palmer on Ferndale Farm, Umtali for his pre-Gwebi training and after graduating worked on a Dairy farm in Herefordshire, UK for a year before returning to Rhodesia to take up the reins on the family farms, Laverstock and The Old Grange, in the Old Umtali farming area.
He married Merle Louise Riley from Umtali from which he had three sons. Through this period he served for fifteen years in the Police Reserve. Mark, the eldest, now deceased due to skin cancer, is survived by his wife and four children living in Scotland. Kevin, the middle son, his wife and two children currently live in Lusaka. Paul, the youngest, is remarried since his first wife passed away and lives in Perth, Australia and has two adopted children and two biological children.
Banjo was a multi-talented farmer and over the years grew many things and had various livestock on the family farms. He was Burley Tobacco Grower of the year 1985 and also grew 25 ha Virginia for three years. In addition he grew wheat, maize, cotton, groundnuts, soya beans, flowers, cabbages, baby corn, chillies, paprika, goose berries, litchis, mangoes and peas to name some of them. At one point he had built up his breeding unit to 200 Sows with a total of 5000 Pigs altogether as well as a breeding herd of 120 Hereford/Afrikander cows. He would also buy the male calves from neighbouring dairy farmers and fatten them over two years and sell them for beef. He also obtained a brick manufacturing licence in 1988 and sold the clay, kiln-fired bricks from the farm with a plan to creating future dams around the farm from the quarries left by the removal of the clay for the bricks.
Banjo enjoyed his Rugby, Cricket, Squash and Billiards. He was most remembered for bringing the community together with his love of playing his guitar wherever he was, hence his nickname Banjo. His greatest wish was to have his sons farming with him which came about when, at different stages, they all got to farm with him until the farm was taken over by the so called war vets on the 16th February, 2000. Mark left for Scotland about a year after that farm invasion. On the 6th July, 2002 Banjo suffered a major heart attack while playing Cricket with his son Paul, both batting at the time, at the Old Mutare Cricket Club and passed away. Banjo's wife Merle (Boots) currently remains single and lives in Scotland.
L.R. Coventry. Lionel. I did not have a great English pass from school but with the help of a good friend, Ewen Pinkney, who had been Student Chairman with C12 and was friendly with Rod Mundy, I was accepted at Gwebi which was the start of two great years. I had been given a Zambian Government Grant to pay the fees for Gwebi and would be required to work for the government for two years to pay it off, so I fulfilled my commitment by opening up a new State Ranch at the far end of the Mkushi Block. It was mostly unused State Land with one small tobacco grower nearby, this being Dennis and Mary Bryan. I went to stay with them for a week while sorting out a house and stayed for nearly two years!
The Mkushi block was a large area and the nearest person my age was Fred Bradnick C12 who worked for Eric Bryan in the middle of the block about 40 kilometres away, so we would meet at the Thatcher Hotel which was about half way. We would get together approximately twice a month and end up with Mrs. Thatcher giving us a room to stay as she would not let us drive home!!
My two years came to an end and I returned to Mazabuka to work for my Dad, doing mainly the cropping side of Seed Maize, Cotton, Tobacco and also Pigs. My Dad did the Brahman cattle side of our farming operations.
At this time I saw a fair amount of Eddie ‘Blondie’ Holden who had joined the Zambian Air Force. He had obtained his flying license while at Gwebi but unfortunately there was some suspicion of one of his relatives being found to be anti-government and he was asked to leave the Air Force. He was one of the most honourable people I have known but sadly he joined the Flying Doctors’ Service in Lesotho and had an engine failure on take-off and was killed. During this time I also kept in contact with Philip Nel, Richard Clowes and Peter Gill. On one of our trips to Auckland we visited Richard Cross who had a small farm and ran a chemical business and seemed happy with his new life in New Zealand.
After my first year with my Dad I had a fair bonus so went out and bought a Ford Fairlane, a magnificent car. I took off for a holiday in Beira and picked up Bucky Rowlands, my good friend from College. We had a great holiday except for one night, after a few demijohns of wine, we went to a pub on the docks and ended up in a fight. The Police came quickly but we managed to get away but we didn’t look too good for the rest of our trip.
We also had a lot to do with Philip Nel a friend from school and then in my course at Gwebi. Phil met his wife Jane in the Game Park where he was a game ranger and they ended up getting married. Phil became a successful tobacco farmer in Chisamba, learnt to fly and then moved to Mbala where he set up an incredible farm on two levels of irrigation from the pressure from water up in the hills and powered by pelton wheels. Phil had a lot of game on the farm and in the process of patrolling shot a poacher. The case was dropped in court thanks to the intervention of the President at the time as Philip had had quite a lot of contact with him, taking him on game trips. Sadly Phil left Zambia as he was wary that the case may be reopened later on, so he went down south and he and his wife were unfortunately killed in his aeroplane coming home from visiting his kids. Philip was a story on its own.
In the early days I ended up taking out Linda Cowley, one of our neighbour’s daughters, and in 1970 we got married. I took up flying while Linda was waiting to have our second child in Lusaka and I decided to buy a Cessna 180. It was an old aircraft, bought from missionaries, and needed divine intervention to stay in the air. I sold it and four years later it did eventually crash killing its new owner.
I worked for over two years with my Dad, who was great, but we clashed a little. He came home and said there was a farm for sale down the road and he would help me buy it so Linda and I went off on our own. We later went in with my brother Robert and with the help of Barclays Bank MD put a pipeline from the Kafue River, 17kms long and giving us 200 hectares of irrigation each. This took a long time to pay off and I then went in for sugar and later put up pivots and that is where we are today.
Then the Rugby - in the early sixties we were all Rugby mad, Mazabuka raising three sides going on to win the Donaldson trophy which I was fortunate enough to have played for. Into the seventies Polo started to take preference and unfortunately the Rugby eventually stopped completely. I played Polo for the next thirty years, it took up most of our weekends in those days. I loved the Polo but I did not have a good eye for the ball and being left handed didn’t help but was lucky enough to represent Zambia on two occasions. Keith my brother played for and captained the Zambian side for many years. Shane, our son, followed by playing for Zambian Schoolboys and Zambia, and is still playing for Zambia to this day. Charmaine also played good polo captaining the Zambian Ladies and Zambian Schools side travelling to Brazil where they did very well and she eventually moved up to a three handicap.
Over the years we have had a lot to do with Richard and Natalie Clowes, another one of my good Gwebi friends. I went in for coffee, being the first commercial coffee grower in Zambia, which I grew for 20 years while foreign currency had a black market value. To earn foreign exchange this was the perfect crop. Zambia eventually opened up a free currency exchange and coffee lost its benefit. During those years Richard was our Coffee advisor and we had great respect for his ability. His brother Mike was also a coffee advisor so we saw a lot of both of them during this period. We later moved to growing sugar and Linda had been building up a flock of stud Dorper sheep and over the past seven years has gone into growing bananas.
I was approached by Dave Gerrand who owned the Arial Spraying for Zambia and we acted as an agent, running the Southern section of the spraying programmes. We later become good friends which lasted for thirty years until he was killed in his plane while monitoring tsetse spraying at night at Kalomo. Over the years we became friends with many of the pilots who came out to do the spraying each year.
I decided to buy another aircraft at this time as my kids were at school in Grahamstown and I was persuaded to buy a V Tail Beechcraft Bonanza which was a six seater retractable and it was the perfect plane for long trips down south. Once the kids had left school I did not do enough flying so regretfully sold the plane.
Linda and I have had a great life together - 49 years in 2018 and still going strong. We had two children, Shane and Charmaine, who went to St. Andrew’s College and DSG in Grahamstown. Shane then went to Texas A & M University in America for five years, got a degree then came back to join me on the farm and he later married Ceri Evans and they had three children but sadly lost one of them due to meningitis. Their eldest daughter, Bianca, is 14 years old and Kegan is 11. My daughter Charmaine went to Johannesburg for a computer course and then onto the University of Auckland in New Zealand to do Hotel Management. She married David Clayton who worked for CDC and Nanga Farms, he is my son-in-law and one of my best friends. Their kids are Abigail, 17 years old, Tristan 15 and Kayleigh 11. We have been most fortunate to have had our kids and Grandkids living five kilometres on either side of us and that all five of our grandkids are now going to DSG and St. Andrew’s in Grahamstown and are very talented sports kids with one of them breaking seven records on sports day last year.
R.A.P. Crees. Rob. I went into the army for my four and a half months straight from College and then went home to help run the two family farms, Rufaro and Mwara in the Raffingora farming area. I took over after my old man's death and grew 90 ha tobacco and 90 ha maize. I also ran a beef breeding herd of 200 Sussex cows. I was there until I was evicted in 2002 apart from six months jolling and doing odd jobs, some of that time with Andy ‘Hereford’ Robertson, in the UK and Europe.
When I was booted off the farm I moved to Kariba where I had a house and got a job managing a croc farm that the Horsley brothers, ex Doma farmers, were opening up in conjunction with Lake Harvest. I left when the Horsleys pulled out and have been the Kariba office manager for Kariba Ferries since then.
R.L.W. Cross. Rich. After leaving College, my first position was back on our home farm at Chisamba in Zambia. At that time I managed our Dairy farm which was the largest in the then Rhodesias. We sold the farm in 1967.
I then went to the UK to do a postgraduate diploma in farm management, where I met my wife Joy. We emigrated to South Africa the same year and purchased a 500 acre farm in the Natal Midlands, where we grew 450 acres of seed maize for Pioneer Seed Company, winning the title of best farmer in the district in 1980.
The political situation didn't look too good, and by that stage we had two daughters, so we decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 1983. Our son was born in Auckland later that year. We purchased a farm on the North Island in the province of the Waikato, which is one of the most fertile regions in NZ. We graze heifers for the dairy farmers taking them from 9 months of age and then sending them back a month before calving. I also own and run my own grazing company, with 14 Beef farmers rearing 3,500 heifers for other dairy farmers, which has done very well over the years.
The political situation didn't look too good, and by that stage we had two daughters, so we decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 1983. Our son was born in Auckland later that year. We purchased a farm on the North Island in the province of the Waikato, which is one of the most fertile regions in NZ. We graze heifers for the dairy farmers taking them from 9 months of age and then sending them back a month before calving. I also own and run my own grazing company, with 14 Beef farmers rearing 3,500 heifers for other dairy farmers, which has done very well over the years.
I am now 73 years of age and fortunately have kept in good health. I still enjoy working full time running the farm and business with no definite plans to fully retire yet, although I’m slowing down!
All three of our children have done well and have settled in New Zealand after some travelling and have successful work here. We thoroughly enjoy this beautiful country and very glad we made the move from Africa when we did.
N.G. Eekhout. Nev came from Gatooma and attended Jameson High School. He moved to South Africa and ultimately managed Althorpe Farm near Kaapmuiden in Mpumulanga Province. It is obvious from the newspaper article below that his wife had passed away before this incident in 2015.
Here is the extract from the newspaper ‘The Corridor Gazette’.
Farmer brutally burnt with iron. The manager of Althorpe Farm, a mango and sugar-cane farm, was left bruised after being assaulted and burnt with an iron during an armed robbery on Monday evening. The attackers gained entry passed the security gates and electric fencing.
KAAPMUIDEN – The manager of Althorpe Farm, a mango and sugar-cane farm, was left bruised after being assaulted and burnt with an iron during an armed robbery on Monday evening.
The attackers entered the property just before 20:00. He was tied up and assaulted while they ransacked his home for firearms and other items. The robbers fled in his stolen white Toyota Hilux 2.2.
Mr Neville Eekhout (72) returned home after visiting friends when three heavily armed men pointed guns at him, demanding money and threatening to kill him.
The motive for their vicious assault on Eekhout was to get the safe’s key in order to gain access to the money in the house.
According to Cllr Mariette Preddy, DA representative of Nkomazi Municipality, Eekhout had been out with friends and walked straight into the ambush.
“When he returned to his home and entered the garage, the attackers suddenly surrounded him. They held a gun to his head and dragged him to his office where the assaulted continued.”
The suspects also tied him up with his own shoelaces before kicking and beating him. He was knocked out twice and burnt numerous times on his arms and back. Luckily, he regained consciousness when his Labrador started licking his face.
The assailants fled the scene roughly an hour later with six firearms, bank cards and an undisclosed amount of cash. They also stole Eekhout’s deceased wife’s jewellery as well as clothing, knives and bread before fleeing in his bakkie.
The farm’s security guards alerted the Kaapmuiden police after witnessing the attackers leaving the farm.
The SAPS and medical services were on the scene shortly after the first emergency call went out. Securicon Lowveld’s medical team was also on the scene to treat Eekhout’s burn wounds and other injuries.
According to Kaapmuiden SAPS, the Hilux was found on Tuesday morning next to the road near the farm on the N4 by one of the farm workers.
A regional search team consisting of the SAPS, security companies and community members, had been launched the night before but poor light made it difficult to find the suspects and stolen vehicle.
According to Mr Mel Preddy of the local community policing forum, special care needed to be taken in terms of household security.
“There is nothing to suggest that only farm residents are at risk. The men are armed and dangerous and are still at large,” he stated.
Corridor Gazette attempted to speak to Eekhout, but could not reach him at the time of going to press as his cellphone had been stolen.
The paper also visited the farm but was told by one of the workers that Eekhout’s family had come and fetch him. Wouter Pienaar 12 February 2015
J. St. L. Fitzroy. James aka Jim. Deceased. Jim was born on 2nd January 1943, in Springs, South Africa. He had an older sister, Felicity, and an older brother, Owen. The family moved to Rhodesia in 1956 and Jim did his Cambridge School Leaving Certificate at Jameson High School, Gatooma. He did his pre Gwebi year with George Whaley, in Shamva and returned there after Gwebi
I met and married Jim in 1971, while he was working as a manager on Kilmacduagh cattle ranch, Mtoroshanga, for Graham Watson Smith and Bill Bailey. We were married in the Greendale Anglican Church in Salisbury. Jim was an accomplished horseman and he started playing Polocrosse at the Goromonzi Club
We had two sons while at Kilmacduagh, Jimmy born in 1972 and Neville, born in 1973. During these war years, Jim served first in PATU then with Grey’s Scouts. He continued to play Polocrosse at the Glendale club and Jim even got me onto a Polocrosse horse, after which I was also hooked!
We left Mtoroshanga in 1974 and worked for Bruce Cambell, on Collace Farm, Wedza for a year, cropping, then we went to Trelawney and farmed with pigs, for Dr John Mitchell, also for about a year. In 1976, Jim joined Lonrho on Mpisi section, Essexvale Ranch. The manager was Chris Culley. While we were at Mpisi, our daughter, Colleen, was born. We then became interested with tent pegging and while I was happy in my slot in lower B division, Jim rose to the top and eventually represented Zimbabwe in Australia. Tragically we lost Colleen during this time in a drowning accident when she was three years old.
Jim, still with Lonrho, was transferred and promoted to manager of Central Estates, Mvuma in 1991, ranching with a very successful Bonsmara herd and also worked alongside Gary Sharp, with Savanna Wildlife. The Lonrho ranches were taken over by Nicholas Van Hoogstraten in 1999 resulting in us leaving and moving to a Brahman cattle ranch in Northern Mozambique situated on the Zambezi Delta. After an amazing and interesting year, we gave up battling mosquitoes, corruption and tsetse flies and we returned to Zim where we worked on Dollar Ranch, Inyathi, producing ostriches for Peter Cunningham. After the 2002 elections, Jim had had enough and we decided to move to South Africa. It was hard, but the Lord was with us and took care of us.
For about a year, we were on a beautiful English estate called Prynnsberg in Clocolan, Free State, working for Rick Melville. We took care of and trained polo ponies for owners from Johannesburg. Jim developed a heart problem while we were on Prynnsburg and had to have a quadruple bypass.
We both started our own businesses after leaving the Free State. Jim learned to do plastic welding and had a business repairing plastic plates for a gold mine near Nelspruit.
Our next adventure started when Jim was offered a position as Chief Operating Officer with a biofuels project in Nigeria. We landed in Lagos in 2007 and spent three months in a hotel on Victoria Island, after which we were taken out to a village about four hours northwest of Lagos. The project, like so many in Nigeria, took so long to take off that we joined a group of Zimbabwe farmers in Kwara Province, where Jim worked with Valentine Chickens, with Pete du Toit and Japie Jovner. After a year or so, I left to work in a hotel in Mauritius and Jim joined me there after about nine months. We had three wonderful years together in Mauritius and he passed away on the island from a massive heart attack in January 2014.
My life with Jim was an adventure from beginning to end and he left me with wonderful memories of a life well lived.
A.M. Fletcher. Mick. aka ‘Grass.’ Mick was another Bulawayo boy from down in Matabeleland. Mick admits to having a very chequered educational career having been suspended, expelled or rusticated from nearly every place of learning that he attended including kindergarten, a prestigious private school in South Africa, several government schools in Rhodesia as well as Gwebi for several weeks. (See story below).
At Gwebi Mick was an exceptional all round athlete particularly in the field events and he captained the team in his Second Year as well as the joint winner of the Victor Ludorum. He was a regular member of the College Rugby team and an unstoppable wing once he got into his stride and was awarded College Colours in both Athletics and Rugby.
Because he lived on his smallholding close to Bulawayo, Mick was able to work for several years for Dunlop Tyres in the city.
Mick is married to Sue and they have two daughters, Tara and Kirsty and a son Bruce.
Here is an article extracted from a local newspaper about Mick after his ordeal in 2011, defending his home and family against invaders on their smallholding at Umvutcha, near Bulawayo.
“Troy Maidwell, (Mick’s son-in-law), was hit over the head with the barrel of a gun during the attack in Umvutcha last weekend. His statement comes in the wake of several violent attacks from Zanu (PF)-aligned thugs in Umvutcha, Bulawayo and Mazowe. Last weekend, the Fletcher family were attacked in their home by intruders who assaulted them with machetes and made off with $16 000. A 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy were affected by the incident.”
P.B. Gill. Pete. Deceased. Here is Tim Arnot’s recall of his great friend Pete Gill. He was one of those people whose whole face crinkled up and eyes closed when he laughed, which was often. He, along with Mick Fletcher, Richard Cross, Phil Nel and myself, were rusticated at the end of our final year at Gwebi for kidnapping the Rag queen from the University in Salisbury and taking her to spend the night at Gwebi, wining and dining her and taking her back the following morning. Fortunately we were allowed back to write our final exams.
Peter was born in 1943 in Pietermaritzburg and went to school at Cowan House and Michaelhouse in the Natal Midlands, but he was not a typical Michaelhouse scholar. He farmed for two years in the Karoi area of Rhodesia before going to Gwebi from 1963 to 1965. After leaving Gwebi he travelled throughout the UK and the continent and on his return he opened up tobacco farms in Angola for the SETA tobacco company.
In 1971 he married Barbara Lee and returned to Lalapansi where their first child, Warren, was born in 1973. In the same year Pete and Barbs moved back to Angola and opened up their own farm, growing tobacco.
In 1975 the Angolan civil war broke out and Pete had the foresight to send Barbs and Warren down to South Africa. He had to leave hurriedly for Namibia (then South West Africa) when he was warned by his staff that the local bad guys were coming to take him out. He had been expecting it and fortunately part of his preparations prior to leaving was to prepare for a hurried exit. He loaded two drums of diesel onto his Land Cruiser, torched his house and headed off. He took with him the well-known war correspondent, journalist and author AJ Venter. If you can get your hands on a copy of Scope magazine dated 1975 it has an article which has photos mostly taken en route out.
Pete and Barbs ended up trading in Muden in Kwazulu Natal for a brief period and then went back farming in Rhodesia and were involved in the war. In 1976 their daughter Dagny was born and in 1978 Katie-Leigh, but sadly died tragically as a toddler.
In 1979, fed up with the situation in Rhodesia, they all moved back to South Africa where Pete worked for a spell at the Koeberg nuclear power plant then later in that year moved to Kwazulu Natal and bought the beef ranch Ellenaberg, between Muden and Weenen, where their son Travis was born in 1981 and their daughter Amber in 1987. This is not a great farming area being dry thorn veld, but the land was cheap and they made it work for them, ranching extensively for 23 years. The farm was eventually bought by the government and in 2002 Pete and Barbs bought a small piece of land near Lions River outside Howick where they lived until Pete died. Barbara sold the farm to the Howick Municipality who have developed it into a tourist venue as it is situated at the place where Nelson Mandela was captured in August 1962. From this base Peter started a heavy earth moving business, working with his son Warren.
Pete suffered from leukaemia for a number of years but you would never know it, he never talked about it. He eventually died from it in 2007. Dagne went first to England and then moved to New Zealand where Barbara, Warren, Travis and Amber joined her shortly after Pete died.
He was a memorable friend, one of the most loyal people I have ever met who lived life to the full. There are not many people like him - they broke the mould when he died.
R.A.N. Harland. aka Rich. Richard was born in Southern Rhodesia in 1944 to Neville and Tonia, the one half of the well known Harland Brothers who, besides their other crops, grew quality tobacco in the Rusape farming district. Richard had three siblings and began his schooling at Ruzawi School followed by Peterhouse School at Marandellas. He began his big game hunting at the age of fourteen and by the time he was seventeen he was the youngest person to be appointed as an Honorary Officer by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management.
On leaving school, and under pressure from his father to obtain some sort of work related qualification, Richard applied for and was accepted at Gwebi, but he continued with his hunting, whenever possible, throughout the time he spent at the College. His uncomplaining Gwebi roommate, Graham Harnden, mentioned that Richard often kept under his bed the ivory of the elephant he had shot the previous weekend. On graduating with a First Class Diploma he joined the Department of NPWLM in 1965 and was posted to Gonarezhou National Park in the Rhodesian lowveld to control elephant and buffalo in the tsetse-fly corridors.
Richard resigned from the Department in 1969 during which time he married Brita Field and returned to farming but also spent some time catching dangerous snakes and ‘milking’ them for their valuable venom. He then became a safari operator in 1977, guiding hunting clients in the Chirisa, Chete, Dande, and Charara safari areas.
After some years Richard decided to leave the world of professional hunting and concentrate on his farming and business enterprises at KweKwe and Rusape, but with the land invasions they have retired and moved to Harare. Brita is an accomplished wildlife artist and Richard has authored several books including ‘The Hunting Imperative’ which is his autobiography, and ‘African Epic’, the story of Paul Grobler, the famous Rhodesian elephant hunter and Richard’s early mentor. Astonishingly, in spite of many years of hunting with heavy calibre rifles, Richard has also mastered the art of tuning pianos which requires a very sharp ear. Richard and Brita now spend time pursuing their passion for opera and fly-fishing.
S.G.R. Harnden. Graham was born in Gatooma on the 4th August, 1944 and was followed by a younger sister and brother. His parents farmed in the Hartley area and Graham attended Hartley Junior School followed by Jameson High School in Gatooma. He worked for his father and other Hartley farmers before being accepted at Gwebi in 1963. Graham was a talented athlete as well as representing the College at Cricket, Squash and Tennis but it was the latter in which Graham excelled.
During his First Year Graham won The Rhomil Shield for the best all-round student at Poultry Husbandry. He graduated in 1965 with a Distinction in Practical as well as being awarded the Lilford Shield for the Best All Round Second Year Student at Practical Work, the Cairns Trophy and Miniature for Judging Jersey Cattle, the Campbell Shield for the Best All Round Second Year Student in Tobacco as well as being the Runner–Up to the Fertilizer Industry Prize for the Farm Project.
After graduating Graham fulfilled his military commitment by joining the Rhodesian Air Force where he was commissioned, and then returned to the family farm to work with his father.
In 1968 Graham enrolled at Washington State University in America, joining a group of foreign students studying engineering, and on completion returned to Rhodesia.
Sandi was teaching at the Sir John Kennedy Junior School in Gatooma when she met Graham on the tennis courts at Gwelo in 1970. Six months after their wedding they moved to Salisbury where Graham joined Farmec as a Sales Rep. After twelve successful years he was transferred to Head Office to run the Counter Trade division which meant a lot of travelling to secure hard currency for the Astra Group.
In 1989 he resigned and joined Mashonaland Tobacco Company as Managing Director but after six years he was attracted back to Astra as Chief Executive of Tractive Power Holdings. Following his retirement from the Corporate world in 2007 he was invited to become a member of CBZ Bank Board and eventually became the Deputy Chairman which he found very interesting and fulfilling. Graham finally retired in 2014 at the age of 70. Fishing has always been his greatest love and both he and Sandi enjoyed many happy days at Kariba.
Graham and Sandi had two sons, Ken and Iain, who attended Highlands Junior School and Peterhouse. They were both very good Hurdlers and held the Zimbabwe 400 and 110 metres hurdles records respectively. Ken represented Zimbabwe in Atlanta and Sydney Olympics and Iain in the Sydney Olympics. They had many happy years travelling to watch their sons compete in the Olympics, at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and other athletics competitions.
Both boys went to the United States on Track and Field scholarships and, of course, stayed, married and produced their much loved Grandchildren, two boys and two girls, and this undoubtedly is the reason why Graham and Sandi left Zimbabwe in 2015 and are settled in Tallahassee, Florida with their families. Graham is very talented with his hands, able to build and fix anything, and his workshop is immaculate where he spends many hours in there as the summer heat in Tallahassee is brutal.
Both Graham and Sandi have become the American based Trustees of the Zimbabwean charity called ZANE which raises money for the Zimbabwean pensioners who have fallen on hard times.
P.E.H. Hayes. Philip Edward Hartley. Deceased. Philip attended St. George’s College and on leaving school immediately did his pre-Gwebi practical as a Farm Assistant. Philip showed an aptitude for all things mechanical and after graduating from Gwebi, did his National Service with the Army, along with most of C15, during which time UDI was declared.
Philip then worked for Jack Quinton in the Umvukwes farming area, as well as on several sections of Forrester Estates also in that farming district. He made the decision to go on his own and leased a farm in Centenary. During this time he met his future wife, Clare Randall, who he married in 1978. Alongside his farming he built up a business in his farm workshop making wrought iron furniture which proved to be more lucrative than farming and, of course, by that stage of the war, much safer. The bush war had escalated considerably in Centenary and their farm was in an area called ‘Ambush Alley’ and farming was fast becoming untenable. However they hung on until independence and in 1982 Philip and Clare made the decision to move to South Africa.
Initially they settled in Camperdown in KZN for several years, some sixty kilometres inland from Durban, but eventually moved to the city to manage the workshop for a swimming pool company. They then purchased a chemical manufacturing company which proved to be very successful and it was during this time that their two daughters were born, Misty in 1985, and Ray in 1987.
Tragically both Philip and Clare were murdered in 1997 at their place of work late one Friday afternoon by a gang who knew that the wages were about to be paid to the staff. Fortunately Philip’s sister Shirley, already living in Durban, was able to bring up Misty and Ray, still young children aged 10 and 12, and they have grown into two lovely young adults both now moved to Australia with their families.
E.S. Holden. Edward. aka ‘Blondie.’ Deceased. Blondie was born on the 14th April, 1944 in Mufulira, Zambia and was educated at Whitestone Junior School in Bulawayo and Peterhouse School, Marandellas where he was a school prefect. He did his farm practical for Gwebi with ‘JB’ Bedford on Poltimore Estates near Marandellas. At both school and Gwebi, Blondie competed very strongly on the athletics field, particularly long distance running, but in his Second Year he became absorbed in obtaining his Private Pilot’s Licence and to this end he took lessons at Charles Prince Airport at Mount Hampden.
It is known that his parents had passed away at a relatively young age and his home was with Wallace and Doreen Fleming, his Guardians, who had Chambulumina Farm down the Old Mumbwa Road near Lusaka where they ran a successful Jersey dairy herd. On graduating from Gwebi Blondie applied for and was accepted for the first intake into the Zambian Air Force where he was recognised as a very competent pilot with a great future in this fledgling Air Force. In 1967 Mrs. Fleming was accused and then jailed for being a Rhodesian spy. Whether this had any bearing on Blondie’s future in ZAF cannot be confirmed, but he did resign.
Blondie then joined the Flying Doctor Service in Lesotho where he was flying a single engine Pilatus Porter ferrying around doctors and patients between remote mountain airstrips and the capital of Maseru. Sadly on 25th November, 1968 he had an engine failure on take-off, crashed and both he and the doctor were killed. Fortunately there were no patients on board. Blondie was not married at the time of his fatal accident and he is buried in the cemetery in Maseru, Lesotho. His gravestone reads, “Always Mindful of Others”.
G.J.F. James. Gavin was born in Que-Que and educated at Jameson High School in Gatooma. In 1963 Gavin along with three other 'Old Jamesonians' - Neville Eekhout, Jim Fitzroy and Graham Harnden enrolled in C15 at Gwebi in 1963. On graduating from Gwebi in August 1965 Gavin went to do basic National Service at Llewellin Barrack which was completed in December 1965 just after UDI had been declared.
In January 1966 Gavin joined Conex and was stationed in Enkeldoorn which was certainly an experience never to be forgotten.
Gavin married, his Gwebi 'Chick', Yvonne Slade - Graham Harnden's cousin in 1968 and they took up residence in Enkeldoorn where they remained until July 1969 when Gavin took up employment at Mazoe Citrus Estate as a Assistant Section Manager. During the following five years he was exposed to Managing five Citrus Sections, the Estate Citrus and Sub-Tropical fruit nursery as well as a pilot project growing Maize and winter Wheat under Irrigation.
June 1974 saw Gavin and Yvonne emigrate to South Africa with their three sons (Wayne, Sean and Grant) where Gavin was employed by the South African Sugar Association Experiment Station as an Extension Officer in Northern Zululand based in Mtubatuba. The family move to Swaziland in January, 1976 when Gavin was seconded by SASEX to the Swaziland Sugar Association to fill the vacancy of Extension Officer to the Swaziland Sugar Industry. A post he filled until July 1978.
Their daughter, Cheryl was born in Swaziland shortly before Gavin went back to Corporate Agriculture and took up the position of Estate Manager on Crookes Plantations Limited an Estate in Big Bend owned by Crookes Brothers Limited a South African Agricultural Company registered on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
This was the start of a thirty year Corporate Agricultural career with Crookes Brothers Limited. During the period from 1978 to 1981 the Swaziland Estate produced irrigated Sugarcane and Citrus which included Grapefruit and Oranges for the Export markets destined for Europe and Japan. Swaziland like Zimbabwe and other ACP Countries enjoyed preferential markets for their Sugar Exports which made the Swaziland Sugar operations very profitable. Sugar Exports were shipped from the Maputo Sugar Terminal whilst Citrus Exports were shipped out of the Durban's Outspan Citrus Terminal. In 1981 the Swaziland Estate expanded to 7000 ha when a neighbouring Estate was acquired which included Sugarcane and a Cattle ranching section. The introduction of Black Brangus bulls from Tala Valley in Natal resulted in the upgrading of the herd and yearling steer sales to feedlots dominated the marketing strategy.
In 1990 the Groups acquisition of two properties in the Komatipoort area of the Eastern Transvaal resulted in Gavin managing the Swaziland Operations and developing the Eastern Transvaal operation for the following six years. The Eastern Transvaal operation produced Sugarcane for the newly established Komati Mill as well as Bananas for the local South African market. Cattle were supplied from the Swaziland Ranch which were grown out and marketed through local abattoirs.
During Gavin's twenty two years in Swaziland he served on numerous Sugar and Citrus Industry Committees and Boards which included Mill Group Boards, Cane Growers Executive Committee, Sugar Industry Quota Board, Sugar Association Council, Marketing Executive Committee and the Swaziland Citrus Board.
In January 2000 Gavin moved back to Zululand in South Africa to manage the Crookes Brothers operations in the Nkwaleni Valley 20 kms North of Eshowe. The Estate produced Sugarcane, Citrus and Mangoes under irrigation.
After four years Gavin moved to the Crookes Brothers Limited Head Office at Scottburgh where he was responsible for managing the dryland Coastal Region comprised of a South Coast and North Coast Estate in Kwazulu Natal. These Estates produced Sugarcane as well as a Crocodile Tourist Park 'Crocworld' and commercial Crocodile farming operation at Scottburgh.
Gavin retired in April 2008 when he and Yvonne relocated to Howick in the KZN Midlands where they currently reside in a Lifestyle Sectional Title Complex.
D.G. Langley. Doug. Since leaving Gwebi in 1965 I made a decision to remain a British Citizen and not to become a Zambian Citizen when Kenneth Kaunda was giving out soft loans to guys who qualified. I did qualify, but decided to not take up this offer and I managed farms/estates for all my farming life and was very happy that I had made this decision with what has happened to the Commercial Farmer in Zimbabwe. Below I shall try and remember the salient facts and put them roughly in order as they happened.
Firstly about graduation day, as far as I can remember, I did not attend this function as I was working in a new job at Bancroft at Chililabombwe in the northern Copperbelt and decided that I would not get the time off or be able to afford the trip so I received my diploma in the post.
For the next two years I was Farm Assistant on Bancroft Mine Farm owned by Anglo American. The farm was there to firstly supply the mine employees with farm produce so we grew a whole range of vegetables under irrigation, a Jersey dairy herd and broiler chickens. One of my main duties was to help a soil consultant from Lusaka find 5000 acres of land suitable for Cigar Wrapper Tobacco that would be grown by the local people on a small holding basis. I grew this crop on Bancroft Mine Farm on a trial basis to find out if it could be grown. I spent some months with myself, my horse and 16 labourers digging soil pits up near the Congo border. I left Bancroft in 1967 before this project was finalised so do not know what happened but with Zambian Independence happening in 1964 I suspect this was put on the back burner. I had also met Ruth who would become my wife in 1969 and still is in 2017 so decided that a better paid job was required.
I was Farm Manager on Shiwa Estates Ltd at Chisamba. The farm was 4500 acres with a large commercial Friesland dairy herd and a pedigree Sussex beef herd. The crops grown were maize and jack beans to produce 2000 tons of silage per annum to feed the livestock. I left Shiwa Estates due to being offered better employment.
I moved to Good Hope Farm in Chisamba as Farm Manager from 1968 to 1976. The farm was 16000 acres made up of three old commercial farms. Commercial beef breeding herd of 800 females basically of Afrikander type and I imported from South Africa 2 Hereford bulls, 2 Simmental bulls and 2 South Devon bulls to carry out a cross breeding programme.
In April 1976 we left Zambia and emigrated to the UK.
In August 1976 we returned to the then Rhodesia and was employed by Gwebi College as Senior Crop Husbandry Instructor and Farm Manager. I managed and instructed students in all field operations excluding Livestock which were handled by the Animal Husbandry staff. I stayed in this post until April 1981 at which time I was head hunted and moved to the Lowveld.
Arda Chisumbanji Estate from 1981 to 1983 as Field Manager with 2500 ha. flood irrigated cotton followed by up to 1500 ha. winter wheat with some trials of cassava and seed sugar cane. 400 ha. of this crop was given over to settler farmers who numbered 113 and I was responsible for their cropping programmes.
Zimcor Ltd from 1983 to 2006 on Kent Estate at Norton as General Manager. The Estate was 9,500 ha. of mixed agriculture. In 1983 the estate was basically a major maize producer with a small area of soya beans and a commercial beef breeding herd of Sussex cross type cattle being fattened off fertilized Star grass pastures and sold in April of each year. Ariston Holdings took over Kent Estate in the late 1990’s and I became Managing Director of Ariston Management Services trading as Kent Estate which position I held until 2006. Kent Estate was a producer of approximately 2500 carcases of beef a year fed in a feedlot and fed home grown maize and roughage mixed with a protein supplement. The Estate also produced 1.3 million broiler chickens/annum contracted to Suncrest and fed home grown maize and extruded soya beans, Roses and Hypericum flowers exported to Europe from 5 ha. rose greenhouses and 30 ha. Hypericum. 1100 Ha. Game park selling live game annually, Cropping included Commercial maize, Seed maize Soya Beans, Michigan Pea beans for Heinz, Giant Rhodes Grass for hay and litter and Eucalyptus gum plantations for firewood and poles. At its peak Kent Estate employed 5 managers Ruth being my office manager as well as 600 workers both male and female all of who were housed on the Estate.
In 2006 when I left and emigrated to the UK due to life becoming untenable in Zimbabwe due to Mugabe’s policies (I had already been involved in ceding over to the government 4000 ha. of land for resettlement)
I lived in Devon from 2006 to 2009 and worked for a double glazing company and did odd gardening jobs.
A return to Zambia for four years at Rosebloom Pvt Ltd at Ngwerere on 400 hectares on irrigation growing fresh produce for Pick & Pay supermarkets which were supplied via our large pack shed on the farm and also soya beans and winter wheat. I was asked to come and try and sort out this farm as it had got itself into a financial mess and this I managed to do.
I finally retired for good in 2013 and now live in North Devon with Ruth, who works night shifts as a care assistant, my son lives in a small town called Ossett in West Yorkshire and is employed by a firm called Chrysal that supplies flower foods and other post-harvest chemicals to the flower trade and my daughter lives in Worthing West Sussex and works for the Inland Revenue. They both have 2 kids each, my son has a daughter and a son 14 and 11 years old and my daughter has 2 daughters 14 and 16 years old respectively.
C.C. Lilford. Clive. Joined his older brother Tony (Course 13) on Lands End Farm near Norton. In 1973 Tony and Clive jointly won the ‘Tobacco Grower of the Year’ award on this farm. They sold up in about 1976 when the economics of growing a crop under sanctions proved to be too difficult for them and both emigrated to the USA some years later. Their exact whereabouts in America are unknown.
A.W. Mann. Tony and his wife Merle are farming in Western Australia where they have set up a blueberry farm in tunnels.
P.J. Meikle. Peter James aka ‘Jim’. Deceased. Jim was born on the 21st December, 1944 in Mutare, Son of ‘Toosie’ Meikle and Grandson of Jack Meikle, one of the three Pioneer Meikle brothers. He grew up at Mountain Home Estate, in the Eastern Districts close to the border with Mozambique, the family farm where he lived and worked most of his life.
Jim attended Junior School at Ruzawi, Marondera, and Senior School at St Andrew’s in Grahamstown, South Africa. His childhood and lifelong friends from school were brothers Banjo (C15) and Guy Coke Norris of Old Umtali. After school he worked with his brother-in-law Neil Purdon (C2) in opening up his new Tengwe farm which at that time was raw bush teeming with elephants.
Jim enrolled at Gwebi Agricultural College, Course 15, from 1963 to 1965 where he was awarded a First Class Diploma featuring as runner-up in the Lord Acton Cup for Genetics, the Campbell Shield for Tobacco and the Johnson Prize for Engineering. Jim was an enthusiastic sportsman representing the College in Rugby and Squash. Jim did his Army commitment straight after leaving Gwebi at Llewellin Barracks near Bulawayo.
In 1965 he did a round-the-world working holiday including going by ship from Argentina to New Zealand via Panama Canal, looking after racehorses on board. He returned to Rhodesia to work on the family estate Mountain Home. Jim met Tina Olsen 1969 and they were married in August 1971. They had 3 children – Barry 1973, Leanne 1975, Peter 1980, and four grandchildren - Shauna, Talia, Danielle and Lilly.
He joined the Tracker Combat Unit along with his brother-in-law Dave Olsen in the early 70’s. He successfully passed the very difficult selection course for the Selous Scouts in 1973 when the TCU was absorbed into that unit. After attending the School of Infantry in Gweru Jim was commissioned as an officer and served with TA Selous Scouts until the end of the war.
In 1980 Jim moved with his family to live in South Africa, first to Johannesburg and then to Knysna to manage a timber estate for Gary Player and remained in Knysna till 1986. They then returned to Zimbabwe and re-joined the family business in Mutare and remained there till his death in 2016.
During this time he was actively involved in the Legion, being Chairman and Trustee of Manicaland Branch for many years and Deputy Director General of Legion Zimbabwe. Just prior to his death he was made an Honorary Life Member. The Legion is the charitable association that evolved from the British Ex-Servicemens’ League (BESL) and caters to the soldiers, sailors and airmen that have fallen on hard times. The Legion is best known for its involvement in the distribution of Poppies on Poppy Day. At the time of his death he had the oldest membership of the Mutare Club. Jim was passionate about the outdoors, and his favourite place was Gonarezhou National Park situated in a relatively remote corner of south-eastern Zimbabwe and which he often visited.
He died in Harare after a four month illness on 20 March 2016. He was 71 years old.
J.F. Murphy. James. Deceased. Section Leader, Police Reserve, Special Branch, British South Africa Police, was killed in action. He died when his vehicle detonated a landmine in the Mhondoro Reserve in the Operational Grapple Area on the 28th February, 1979.
R.P. Nash. Richard. aka ‘Dick.’ Deceased. Dick, as he later preferred to be called, came from farming stock and his parents first farmed at Macheke and then later at Ruwa. He attended St. Michael’s Prep School in Salisbury and became notorious for running away from the school in Standard Three and reaching his parent’s farm at Macheke by hitch-hiking there with another runaway. Dick was brought back to school to bathe in the glow of admiration from his fellow boarders and submerged back into school life with barely a ripple. After leaving St. George’s College armed with his Cambridge School Leaving Certificate he applied for and was accepted to attend Gwebi with C15.
During the vacation between his first and second year at the College he took a job on a farm at Norton but unfortunately lost several fingers in an accident with a forage harvester. This may have prompted him to make a career change and he applied for and was accepted by the National Parks and Wildlife Management in 1964 but only after showing his competence with a rifle due to the loss of some of his hand. Dick, as a Vermin Control Officer, was sent to various far-flung outposts in the Rhodesian bush for many months but due to a serious vehicle accident was posted to Inyanga to make a full recovery and then sent to Lake McIlwaine where he was the Ranger in charge. It was jokingly suggested that the hierarchy at NPWLM decided that Dick should be posted as close as possible to the Salisbury hospitals due to his continued tendency to be involved in accidents of one sort or another.
Dick married Sandra Light in 1967, a farmer’s daughter from Mt. Darwin and also a Nurse who had cared for him in one of his regular stays in Salisbury Central Hospital. Dick and Sandy later had two daughters, Kim born in Salisbury, and Tanya born in Pietermaritzburg. On holiday in Durban in 1969, Dick impulsively approached Natal Parks Board, applied for a job with them and was accepted immediately. So after five years serving as a Ranger in NPWLM in Rhodesia Dick moved with his family to Rugged Glen Nature Reserve in the Natal Drakensberg mountains. Dick served for four years in the Drakensberg and the next twenty-three in Zululand and finished off his career of just over thirty years at Cathedral Peak in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as the Natal Parks Board were now called.
On retiring in 1999, Dick and Sandy settled in Pietermaritzburg, and Dick started to pen his autobiography which he self-published in 2005 entitled ‘I Remember When ...’ and he travelled the country marketing his book. By this time both their daughters, Kim and Tanya, had married men from the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Unable to sit back in quiet retirement he then started to edit and convert all his old cine camera films onto a modern format.
Sadly Dick passed away in 2012 from a heart condition.
P.J. Nel. Phil. Deceased. Henry and Elsie Nel were Philip Nel’s parents and together with his brother Peter they lived in Livingstone. Henry worked at Zambezi Sawmills and lost his arm in an industrial accident. Phil’s father then worked for the Ministry of Roads posted to Kalomo and Livingstone but he later died from a heart attack leaving Elsie, who was the Post Mistress at the Livingstone Post Office, to bring up the boys. They attended Livingstone Primary School and Hillcrest Senior School where Phil was Head Boy and excelled in Rugby.
After leaving school Phil worked for a tobacco farmer at Kalomo and then attended Gwebi for two years between 1963 and 1965 where he graduated with a First Class Diploma with Distinctions in Animal Husbandry and Practical. Phil was awarded several prizes including the Farmers’ Co-op Prize for Progress in his First Year and was one of the prize winners of the Lord Acton Prize for Animal Husbandry and was Runner-Up for the Stewarts and Lloyds Prize for Engineering, the Mundy Cup for Farm Management and the William Bain Tour Prize in his Second Year. Once again Phil excelled in Rugby and was awarded his College Colours for Rugby.
After graduating Phil joined the Department of Wild Life Services (DWLS) in Zambia and was employed as a Ranger. On one occasion he had reason to shoot an animal in the National Park not realising he was near the President’s motorcade in which he was game viewing, so was called up to appear before the President to explain this shooting. As a result of this meeting he and the President, Kenneth Kaunda, became friends, and he accompanied the President on future trips to the game park. It was about this time Jane visited the park, met Phil and they ended up marrying a short time later and they had three daughters Julie, Debbie and Alison.
Philip then worked as a Professional Hunter for Zambia Safaris and then, with a Tanzanian partner, formed his own safari company called Hunters Ltd. He also had a farm called ‘Waterfalls’ between Lusaka and Chisamba as well as a gold mine at Kalomo, all of these businesses which he sold up to go farming in Mbala in 1978.
He arrived at his new farm not far from Lake Tanganyika with all his cattle from Waterfalls and after many trials with various crops he found that potatoes were a good crop along with maize and soya beans and he was very successful in growing these. He also opened a small butchery in Mbala selling the meat from his farm. Part of the farm was given over to a wildlife conservancy and his few neighbours all remember Phil as an excellent farmer and conservationist. As the farm was so far from Lusaka, Phil obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence and bought his own aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which saved him a huge amount of travelling time.
Unfortunately, after some years and in the course of patrolling his game section, Phil shot a poacher but was not charged with any offence. This episode, coupled with the remoteness of his farm at Mbala and its distance from the markets, caused him to sell up in the late eighties and he bought a game farm near Vivo not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. He ran that for a few years, sold it, and then he bought a fruit farm outside Nelspruit in Mpumulanga Province. By this stage Phil had changed his aircraft to a Cherokee Saratoga, which again saved him much travelling time.
It was in July 1996, while attempting to land at Nelspruit, where low cloud had formed over the airport, that his aircraft clipped the trees on the approach and he crashed in a wooded area just outside the city. Both Phil and his wife died in the accident. Sadly some years after the accident one of their daughters, Julie, also died under tragic circumstances.
A.G. Paterson. Alastair enrolled with Course 15 but had to leave for an operation on his back during his second year and decided whilst recuperating to study for a B.Sc. in Agriculture instead. This he did followed by veterinary research in Borrowdale and three years lecturing in Animal Husbandry at Gwebi. He moved to Pretoria where he met and married Marie after working in agriculture in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. His three children studied B. Com’s and have made more money in commerce than he did in agriculture!
After eight years with the Johannesburg Municipal farms, where he developed the Bo-Velder breed of cattle and obtained a Doctorate in Animal Science, he moved onto Natal where he consulted with the 7,000 members of Stockowners Livestock Cooperative for 20 years. Don O’Donovan and Frank Norval (from Bulawayo) were in the consulting team. Alastair has been working as a private Agricultural Consultant from Howick for the past fourteen years visiting over 70 countries for work and pleasure. His next goal is to set up a feedlot in Nigeria with 60,000 head standing.
He emphasises that his year at Gwebi was the most constructive and valuable year which contributed significantly to his success in the field. He thanks Jack Lane, Al Hawkes and, at a later stage, Bernard Rhodes for their input into his practical knowledge. He is a director of Nosa Agricultural Services which has updated the Gwebi course revised by Peter Chard, Lecturer from Course 23, and markets these courses throughout Africa. The “New Gwebi” is interested in buying and using the course! Peter Dick from course 25 is the MD of Nosa Agri-Services.
A.J. Read. Alf. aka ‘Jute’. Deceased. Alf was born in Gatooma and attended Jameson High School in that town. After graduating from Gwebi, he worked for the Cotton Research Station in Gatooma in order to raise the funds to purchase the family farm, Pamene Farm in Gatooma. He continued to farm successfully and after Independence Alf purchased two other farms namely Railway Farm 8 and Spesbona. His main crop in the beginning was dry land cotton and maize, and after installing an irrigation scheme he grew wheat, soya beans, groundnuts, and then mange tout peas, baby corn and paprika for export. He bred and fattened beef on the farm and was one of the first farmers to successfully introduce ostrich farming in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately all three farms were seized in August 2002 under the Zimbabwe Land Acquisition Act.
Alf married Rachael Van der Merwe, a teacher, in 1968. They had two boys, Alf Jnr. and Henry. The boys both joined Alf farming in the 1990s. Alf served in the Rhodesian Army in the 1970s. Alf thoroughly enjoyed playing rugby and played his last season for the Gatooma rugby club in 1987. He then took up bowling and was an enthusiastic member of the Gatooma Bowls Club for many years. He loved hunting and fishing hence the family re-introducing game – giraffe, eland etc. into the farm in the late 1990s. Alf was passionate about the community; he served on many Committees over the years including club committees, rural council and was a Vice President of the Cotton Growers Association. Alf passed away in 2007 and is survived by his two children and four grandchildren.
V. Reece. Vic. Deceased Vic was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa on the 1st June, 1944 into a family of three brothers, Roy, Andre and Eddie and two half-brothers, Quintin and Norman and their sister, Felicity. The family moved up to Gwelo and Vic was schooled at Thornhill High School.
Vic graduated with a First Class Diploma in 1965. He was an excellent cricketer in the classical sense and was one of the mainstays of the Gwebi Cricket team both with his batting and bowling, so much so that Rod Mundy, the Gwebi Principal, persuaded him to stay on as an Instructor at Gwebi after he had graduated in order to bolster the College Cricket XI.
Here is what a former team mate, Tony Marillier, remembers about Vic ...
‘Yes, Vic was a very good bowler. He was a spin-bowler, also a competent batsman. He was awarded College colours for the sport. He was selected to play for Mashonaland. He did stay on after graduating, and was with Jack Lane on the livestock and dairy. I remember him chatting to Colin Bland on the stock office phone. Whether or not Rod had asked him to stay on, I don’t know, but he was certainly a huge asset to our team.'
Following Vic’s brief stint at Gwebi as an Instructor on the Livestock section he worked on a dairy farm at Mazoe, then in 1967 on a cattle ranch in the Hartley farming area and finally in 1968 Vic moved to Chipinga for a forestry and cattle operation.
He had met Kate whilst at Gwebi in 1964 and they were married in 1967. Kate was born in Mozambique of German parents but raised in Rhodesia and was the cricket scorekeeper at Old Georgians in Salisbury where Vic played his club cricket along with Eddie Barlow and Colin Bland. Vic was also an avid golfer and played off a 9 handicap. Vic and Kate’s three children were all born in Rhodesia, Heidi in 1969, Liesa in 1971 and Grant in 1972.
In 1973 Vic and his family moved to Benoni, South Africa to work for a Fencing Contractor called ‘Alert Fencing’ and in 1978 he opened his own Fencing Contracting Company called ‘Fensecure’. He served on the Benoni Town Council as a Councillor for six consecutive years, one of which he served as Deputy Mayor. He has a park named after him in Benoni. Vic also served as Chairman of both the Benoni Publicity Association and of the ‘Care of the Aged’, as well as serving on the Commando Council.
Vic passed away tragically in 1998 in a motor vehicle accident in Ellisras, near the Botswana border, whilst travelling to a fencing contract in that country.
R.D.S. Rix. Rod. After Gwebi I worked for Gordon Milne down near the Wedza mountains. During that period I did my National Service and married Hope in July 1966. After that worked for a year for Rhomil Stockfeeds before I joined Wright Rain Irrigation as a trainee ‘engineer’. I spent 10 years with them and then worked for Sandy Firks for two years in Umvukwes, on the same farm as Pete Storey. I went back to Wright Rain and in June 1979, emigrated to Australia with my wife, Hope, and two sons, aged 4 and 6 years. I found a job in the farm chemical industry in Moree NSW and spent the next 28 years, running my own business, in the industry crop spraying with a ground sprayer. Then about eight years ago I sold the business to a South African and retired.
We now live in Gympie, Queensland, just north of Brisbane. A very congenial town with all the facilities we need at this time of life. We live about an hour away from George Hodgson and Mick Poffley. We are very thankful for our situation here.
Our two sons are both married, one living in Australia with his wife and two daughters, and he works for Qantas Airline and Jenny his wife is a banker. Shaun is married to Sharon with two sons and living in Arizona, USA, is also a pilot flying jets around the USA.
A.G. Robertson. Andy. aka ‘Hereford.’ It is known that Andy came from Matabeleland where his father managed a ranch at Shangani. After graduating Andy spent some time in the UK along with his friend Rob Crees. He returned home by driving an overland truck from London in the early seventies and he worked for some time in the irrigation and piping division of Proplastics in Harare. When this company closed down after Independence Andy left for Australia where presumably he is still living but his exact whereabouts is unknown.
M.A. Robertson. Magnus. His exact whereabouts is unknown but we have been informed that after graduating he moved to the UK as an agricultural officer in Inverness, Scotland where he worked at a college, and to ensure he had the best food and a bed warmer, he married the cook and they had two children.
R.D. Robinson. Rod. Whereabouts unknown.
E.A. Rowlands. Eugene Allison but always known as ‘Bucky’. When I move from here it'll be the 18th move in 48 years, so we haven't carried much material possessions with us over that period. Before I start I will preface my life story with a salute of gratitude and admiration to my wife Robbie who went places with me where most men feared to tread, never complaining, always supportive and playing an anchor role of sanity, raising children and home making wherever we ended up!
Here goes - on graduating from Gwebi I had a scholarship at a Canadian university to study genetics, so I continued at Gwebi as a Field Instructor awaiting to go to Canada. However the scholarship was withdrawn following UDI, so I decided to stay in agriculture. I was called up to do my army service ... the last four and a half month intake whilst employed at Gwebi. When I passed out of the army I left Gwebi and got a job with John Burl whose son Alan was in C17. We farmed tobacco, pigs, cattle and maize. It was a well-run farm and Gwebi used to go to John’s place on First Year tours. From here I went to Namibia to try my hand at mining ... didn't like it much, at 3000m underground, it was too claustrophobic. Returned home and became an extension officer to small scale farmers east of Enkeldoorn. Whilst here I'd met Robbie in my home town Gwelo. At this time I saw an ad in the Rhodesian Farmer for a farm manager in Angola. I phoned, had an interview and got the job.
Robbie was 19 we got married and we headed for Angola. I remember I had $5 in my pocket ... it's said, ‘he who knows nothing fears nothing!’ The farm was growing coffee and rice so I continued with this and also grew the first crop of SR52 maize in Angola and also had the first aerial broad acre application of herbicide and the first mechanical maize harvester, a 4-row Claas Senator which Robbie christened "Mealie Muncher". We were pretty fluent in Portuguese within three months and I fired the mechanic and farm assistant also within the first four months and brought in pre-Gwebi trainees to help. My boss was using his father-in-law’s company to fund the farm, they fell out and he had to close the farm ... so back to Rhodesia we headed.
I then got a job with Robb Truscott at Premier Estates, north east of Umtali, stayed a year and then moved to the lowveld growing cane, and whilst there was approached by SETA to go back to Angola to run their tobacco farms which we did. Civil war broke out in Angola so I sent Robbie and the kids back home and I persisted for another six months before I also baled out to go back to Rhodesia and another war ... this time got a job with Rob Davenport on his seed potato farm north of Troutbeck. We really enjoyed this, but by 1978 two of our neighbours had been attacked, we were more isolated than them and we had 100 head of Afrikaner in-calf cows stolen from us which we had bought on borrowed cash. As we had been applying to go to Australia and been accepted, we said bugger it. I sent Robbie and kids to my brother in Salisbury and I closed the farm down. I then worked for Shell Chemicals until we headed for Australia in September, 1979.
When we hit Australia I heard about the cotton industry through John Trouncer of Course 14, so we ended up in Moree where an American company Auscott was going to plant their first crop in October 1980. This was the first cotton crop in the Gwydir valley and I graduated from pick and shovel to tractor driving, then to machine assembly as these machines were all new off the drawing board, then to running various agricultural machinery, from land preparation to the picking teams of men – for example at pick time there up to 150 people involved. Most Aussies couldn't handle that number and I could. I was always ready to work seven days a week for whatever the hours were required. At this time Robbie was holding down three jobs during the day and still looking after the kids!
So I knew the machinery side backwards and at this time I was commuting 60km to work. In 1981 an insurance company had bought a cotton property and were developing it for cotton the following year and offered me a job as an agronomist, with a house on the farm so we jumped at it. This ended up more than agronomy and I pretty much ended up running the whole show. No one I asked could give me many of the operating costs, so I started keeping my own and in due course people started asking me.
A bunch of well-heeled Brits had bought a huge property further west from me and their farm manager used to drop in see what I was doing. He took over from the MD and in 1986 and offered me the job of running their farms. When I joined them we had 2000 ha under cotton and over the next 10 years this grew to 20,000 ha of cotton and 30,000 ha of dryland cropping. We could plant the 20,000 ha in 15 days and pick the crop in 30 days. I had 15 mechanics, 8 farm managers, an onsite accountant, an admin manager and 2 cotton gin managers - we had two Gins, so ginned our own and other growers’ crops. The average field size was 200 ha, 2km wide by 1km long. When on-farm storages were full they had a surface area of 4000 ha. One insecticide aerial application over the area would cost on average Aus$225,000. Relift rainfall runoff and river pumps were in the 100's of megalitres per day. It was a big operation.
A private Australian bought the company I worked for in 2000 but they were renowned for treating their staff badly and we left and worked our macadamia farm till 2003 which we then sold. I gave agriculture away in 2003 bought a cabin and caravan park and started farming people and took up fishing! I’m still fairly fit and healthy so may do this till I'm 80! Robbie and I have two daughters and a son all between 40 and 50 years old and six grandkids aged between 7 and 16.
My only regret is that I didn't spend more time with my family in the first twenty years in Australia ... but in the words of the infamous Ned Kelly ... "Such is Life!"
D.J. Scott. Doug. Before Gwebi Doug was in the accounts section of Central African Airways and he was accepted at the College as a mature student. In his First Year at Gwebi Doug was awarded the Wightman Cup for the best practical student in Poultry Husbandry and the Friesland Cup for Judging Dairy Cattle, and in his Second Year the Fertilizer Industry Prize for the Farm Project and he graduated with a First Class Diploma. Doug represented the College in Hockey.
After graduating Doug worked for Irvine’s Day Old Chicks and at this time married Judy, a Nurse, and they had three children, one boy and two girls. Doug then took up a position as a technical advisor with Rhodesia Fertiliser Corporation (RFC) for the Beatrice and Enkeldoorn farming area whilst simultaneously starting up his own poultry unit near Ruwa where he lived. Concerned at the unfolding political situation in the country he emigrated to Australia in 1982. The family settled at Warwick in Queensland and Doug worked at a farm supply business. Later on he moved on from that and went into real estate sales. Doug and Judy, who have now retired, and all three children plus grandchildren are in Queensland.
D.W. Scott. Dave is remembered by C16 as an enthusiastic and leading participator in the initiation at Gwebi. He was a keen cricketer and represented the College in the First XI and he graduated with a First Class Diploma. It is known that Dave did a walk-about around Australia, and amongst many jobs, worked as a roustabout in the shearing sheds of sheep stations in Australia where he met Mick Poffley from C16. He ultimately went back to Chipinga where he married Trish and had three daughters, Louise, Simone and Natalie, and two sons, Dale and Jason. They farmed the family farm, Chipinga, which had belonged to Trish’s parents, Pat and Molly Edwards. They grew coffee, macadamias, tobacco and had some cattle and sheep.
The Scott family were members of the Chipinga Club and were all involved in playing Polocrosse for the Club. This productive farming came to an end when the so called warvets invaded the family farm and the family were forced to move off. Sadly Trish died in 2010 in Harare from cancer and Dave, married to Margaret in 2015, is now living in Johannesburg.
N.D.C. Stewart. Neil. My parents farmed in Tanzania and I attended St. George’s College in Salisbury. After graduating from Gwebi I did my National Service for five months before going travelling in Europe for a year. I returned to Cape Town where I worked as an assistant manager in a Dairy until I moved to Johannesburg to work for a milking machine company, travelling around the country commissioning milking machines.
In 1973 the big decision was made to migrate to Australia so with my very pregnant wife Jenny and eighteen month old daughter we set sail and settled in Tasmania. We arrived when Gough Whitlam was running the country, so jobs were few and far between and strikes were the order of the day. I managed to get a Farm Manager’s job in the Fingal Valley on a mixed sheep and cattle property carrying 5000 head of Merino sheep and 200 Poll Hereford cattle as well as cropping wheat and oats and later opiate poppies. These poppies were grown under licence for pharmaceutical companies and strictly controlled, but that didn’t stop people trying to steal the heads, much to their detriment, as there were a couple of deaths from overdoses as they were very strongly concentrated.
So began a rapid learning curve discovering how to do everything myself instead of delegating and supervising labour as in Africa. It was tough but certainly gave a sense of satisfaction doing all the fencing and stock management myself. Jenny and my two daughters also became involved in farm work and the girls earned lots of pocket money working in the shearing shed but probably decided not to marry farmers as it really is very hard work.
The farm was sold after I had been there twenty years so we moved into Launceston where I managed to find another Farm Manager’s job 20 km from town so travelled daily to work. Initially it was also a sheep and cattle property and, as the owner’s sons grew up, I had the challenging task of mentoring them and mediating between them and their father as their ideas were totally different to his. Now I have retired and left one son running a cropping under irrigation and fat lamb enterprise, while the other son grows berry fruits under polythene. All on the same farm!
We keep fit cycling, gardening and playing tennis and hockey as well as keeping up with our two daughters’ seven grandchildren, four of whom are in Launceston and the other three in Geelong, an hour from Melbourne.
W.D. Stotter. Don attended Churchill School and his pre-Gwebi practical year was with Rupert and Marjorie Hawley on Blockley Estates, Karoi. During his Second Year at Gwebi Don was a popular Student Chairman and the Captain of a formidable Gwebi Rugby team. Don graduated with a First Class Diploma and was awarded several prizes including the Farmers’ Co-op prize for the Animal Husbandry Project and the Lilford Medal for Leadership and Example.
After graduating Don worked briefly for Howard Garmany in Darwendale. This was only for a few months before heading off to the UK where he worked on a farm in Yorkshire. There were another two Gwebians there with Don - Wilf Smithyman and Tony Mann. He then secured a job driving tourist buses around Europe with a company called Auto Tours, running nine week camping trips in summer and two week ski trips in winter. He stayed with the tourist company for three years before heading home.
Don landed a management position back in Karoi with Basil Kearns on Basella Estates and after two seasons he joined Nat's Dad on Government Farm and Mushi Park before leasing Mushi Park from him. By this time Don had married Natalie Bennett and they have two children, Charlene who is in the UK working for a Pharmaceutical company and Rob who manages the Amiran Chemical Company in Mkushi, Zambia. They moved across to Mashalla in 1974, leasing it for three years before finally purchasing the farm from Mary and Peter England. Don became one of the leading farmers in the district with his meticulous agricultural practices culminating in Tobacco Grower of the Year in 1980 and again in 1985.
Nat and Don have had a difficult road to travel with several tragedies to overcome but were a prominent and outstanding couple in the Karoi district, immersing themselves in all the community activities. Don was a PATU Stick Leader during the bush war and Nat has been a bastion of strength and support in all of Don’s endeavours and has made a warm and hospitable home wherever they have lived. Nat’s passion has always been her gardens and the one on Mshalla Farm was featured in the coffee table book “Zimbabwe, A Garden”, by June Norman.
Don and Nat were evicted from their farm in February 2003 and started a small business in Borrowdale Village, Harare in conjunction with two other evicted farmers but they then moved to South Africa in 2008 to work in home renovation and construction. They moved to Zambia in September 2012 with Don working for Zambezi Ranching and Cropping, a large agricultural organization, and after several years there, joined Ross Breeders near Lusaka. They finally retired in 2017 to build a house on their son’s farm Tembusha at Mkushi where they are very happily settled.
W.H. Street. William aka ‘Billy’. Billy’s father worked for Dulys and had been posted to Bulawayo when Billy was born there on the 22nd April, 1944. He did his primary schooling at Umtali and his secondary schooling at Gilbert Rennie in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia.
Billy did his pre-Gwebi practical at Chambeshi Farm, near Kitwe for United Plantations where they had a large dairy supplying milk to the Copperbelt. Billy started Gwebi with C14 but was rusticated along with several other students, including Rob Crees, for their underwear raid on George Fleming Girls’ Hostel. Promising to be a model student Billy was allowed back to Gwebi with C15.
Billy, true to his word, graduated in 1965 and was awarded the Barrett Shield for Proficiency in Clean Milk Production. He moved to Swaziland where he again worked for United Plantations, this time growing sugar cane. By then he had married Charlotte, known to everyone as Poppet, and they had three children, Kim, a girl, and two boys, Brian and David.
When Billy and Poppet retired from Swaziland they bought a small farm in KZN where they grew ten hectares of macadamia nuts. They sold the farm when Poppet developed Alzheimer’s and moved into Amber Glen, the well-known retirement village in Howick, in 2014. Sadly Poppet passed away in 2016 and Billy continues to live at the Frail Care Centre at Amber Glen because he has developed Parkinson’s.
P.G.D. Ward. Patrick. aka ‘Steve.’ Deceased. Patrick came from Manicaland and went through the Catholic schools of St. Michael’s, Hartmann House and St. George’s College in Salisbury. Patrick’s father had been a farmer so after leaving school he applied for Gwebi, was accepted and started his two year Diploma course in 1963. Like most of C15 he fulfilled his four-and-a-half months military commitment after graduating.
Patrick then decided to see something of the world, starting in the UK and then travelling around Europe for two years. His jobs varied from picking potatoes to being a chef in a hotel kitchen in England overlooking the cliffs of Dover. His sister, Elise, had got him this job at the hotel where she had been waitressing but the resident lady chef didn’t think much of Patrick’s culinary skills and told him so. He replied in Chilapalapa, ‘Lomfazi lapa ena shupa sterek!’ She had no idea what it meant, but knew it was about her and that it wasn’t complimentary, so that was the end of that career choice.
Patrick, realising that there was no family farm to inherit, decided he needed a University degree, so he studied hard and got his M Levels by correspondence and wrote his finals at Umtali Boys High. During the years 1968 to 1970 he attended Pietermaritzburg University where he graduated with B.Sc. in Agriculture. While there he met Dawn Breary from Newcastle in Natal to whom he later became engaged. On completing University they both moved to Salisbury where he was employed by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Patrick, Dawn and his mother Molly drove down to Pietermaritzburg to attend his graduation but on the return journey Patrick complained of a headache. He later collapsed, was taken to Salisbury Hospital where he died from a brain haemorrhage at the young age of twenty-six. Patrick was survived by his mother Molly and sisters and brothers, Elise, Mary, Philip, Antoinette and William. Sadly Dawn also passed away in 2015.
L.P. Wood. Les. My parents were from the UK and my young years were in various towns in Rhodesia as the family moved around. My one year practical pre-Gwebi was at a Dairy on Pasipas Farm in the Umgusa farming area and then onto Bishopstone Ranch, a game farm near Beit Bridge.
After Gwebi, I started with the Department of Conservation and Extension and during this time I married Moira Reoch from Concession and we have three sons, Charles, Douglas and Keith. During my time at Conex I initially worked in the Tribal areas during the final years of the ‘Land Husbandry Act’, concentrating on conservation works. I then moved into the small scale Purchase Area farming on the extension side. When our eldest son reached school age, we were transferred to postings with a Primary School and so lived at Henderson Research Station, Murewa and Hartley working in the commercial farming areas, mostly on conservation works and investigating and promoting irrigation potential.
We moved to my wife’s family farm ‘The Gem’ in the Concession area in 1977 where we grew tobacco, maize, cotton as well as fattening beef. The necessity of mitigating the dry spells and increasing the area under tobacco, early irrigated tobacco was the obvious way forward. This then lead to investigating and promoting the building of a large dam with thirteen other shareholders.
We eventually moved on, as the next generation took over the management of the farm and settled into an area where water wars were constant. Initially I worked as an agronomist, but I soon became involved in water management. Once a recording system was in place, all irrigators had a monthly river usage report and a balance of every irrigator’s entitlement in all storage works, the water wars diminished. I was also involved in the consultation process leading up to the new Water Act.
Then the 2000 farm invasions started which meant no farmers and therefore no need to manage a river system. It was at that stage that we started to look at our uncertain future in Zimbabwe. Late in 2002 we left Zimbabwe and headed down under and settled in Swan Hill, a town and farming area in the State of Victoria and totally reliant on the waters of the mighty Murray River. I’m now retired with a balance problem and very involved, about two or three times a week, and founder member in the Nyah District Men’s Shed as a bean counter and co-ordinator. I’m also involved, two or three days a week, as the Treasurer at our local Anglican Parish. We are most fortunate to have our three sons all in Australia and relatively close to us.
From Colin Lowe newsletter with information, photos, stories and anecdotes from the following people and my thanks to Ian Johnstone (Archivist and Researcher), Barry Meikle, Paul and Kevin Coke Norris, Rob Crees, Sandy Nash, Elise Ward, Dave Bull, Alastair Paterson, Richard Cross, Shirley Hayes, John Gray, Bucky Rowlands, Graham and Sandi Harnden, Tim Arnot, Neil Stewart, Rich Clowes, Sandy and Yvonne Bisset, Grant Brebner, Gavin James, Rod Rix, Doug Langley, Tony Marillier, Peter Storey, James Gilleran, Les Wood, James Holderness, Doug McClymont, Mike Poffley, Mandy and Alf Read Jnr., George Hodgson, Jim Holden, Kevin Shone and Richie Peters (Friends and neighbour to Phil Nel), Bryne Nel, Don Stotter, Rich Harland, Mick Fletcher, Louise Taylor (Daughter of Dave Scott), Billy Street, Lionel Coventry, Grant Reece, Ian Raynor, Anne Smith (Former resident of Chipinga) and Dot Richmond (Formerly Dot Fitzroy).
Kidnapping of University Rag Queen in Salisbury by Course 15
UCRN Rag Queen, Sue Sexton, instead of being in residence at one of the girls’ hostels on campus, shared a flat with a fellow student away from the University. This accommodation arrangement made it much easier to kidnap her, as it was unlikely that she would have any student minders to protect her.
The Gwebi kidnap gang had been given Sue’s name and address so they monitored her movements and then simply knocked on the door of her flat and informed her that she was now under their protection and whisked her off to the College. It would seem that Sue had just stepped out of the bath when the gang arrived and in their haste to take her away forgot to allow her to pack a suitcase. On arrival at the College Sue informed them of her predicament so Mick and Bucky promised to return to her flat and ask her flat mate to pack some clothes and toiletries. On arrival back at the flat they scouted around to make sure there were no University thugs waiting in ambush. With the coast apparently clear Mick went up to the flat on the first floor and asked Sue’s flatmate to pack whatever was needed for Sue, whilst Bucky sat in the car to act as a lookout and to hoot his horn as a warning should any University students turn up. It wasn’t long before a rescue team from the University belatedly arrived in vehicles at the ground floor of the flats, effectively trapping Mick on the first floor. Bucky had been hooting a warning and Mick’s only choice was to leap with Sue’s suitcase off the balcony of the flat and fortunately he landed on grass and bushes without hurting himself. Mick jumped into the already moving car and they successfully escaped back to Gwebi.
Sue was featured in the Sunday Mail with a picture of her holding a small pig. The episode gave a lot of publicity to Rag and the Charities they supported, however it had some bad consequences. The ensuing competition over the years between Gwebi and the UCRN degenerated to physical levels.
In C15’s Second Year they attempted a repeat performance of their successful Rag Queen kidnap from the previous year but the young lady in question, Wendy Hughes, was extremely vigilant and managed for some time to avoid being captured and was carefully guarded by a group of minders. When the Gwebi kidnap gang arrived at the University campus at night they did, with inside knowledge, manage to capture the Rag Queen but ran into an ambush in the car park and had to abandon her to make good their escape. The outcome of this confrontation was that one of the University students broke a leg and the authorities at Gwebi suspended several C15 students including George Hodgson from C16. This suspension was only lifted when Ian Smith intervened and politely asked the Gwebi authorities to reconsider their decision. It is most fortunate that Bucky’s father had been at school with the Prime Minister.
Extracts from Colin Lowe’s newsletter were compiled with contributions from Mick Fletcher and George Hodgson
Information and content has been supplied by other parties so no warranty (express or implied) is given to its completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.