Between the furrows
College photo 1966
Anecdotes from Course 16 and life after College:
David W. Banks, “Dave”. Deceased.
Dave grew up on the family’s Double Cross Ranch in the Gwanda district and attended Plumtree School. During this time his love of livestock, particularly cattle, became apparent and he knew just where his future lay. After leaving school Dave attended Gwebi Agricultural College and after graduating with a First Class Diploma he worked in the Darwendale area before returning to Gwanda to marry Deena and manage Double Cross for his parents.
A few years later, Dave and Deena, along with Allister their son, moved to a settler farm in Middle Sabi where for some years he successfully grew wheat, cotton and bananas. It was during this time that Simon and Pamela were born in Mutare. Unfortunately Dave broke his hip and pelvis in a horse riding accident but that incident started a new chapter of his life when he bought Keymer Farm at Ruwa in 1976 from the MacLean family.
The deteriorating security situation in Matabeleland in the eighties forced Dave to sell Double Cross Ranch and he moved all the cattle up by rail to Ruwa. He started a Sussex and Brahman cattle stud herd and soon after won the coveted ‘Dairyman of the Year’ and ‘Cattleman of the Year’ awards. He showed cattle at the Harare show, the Bulawayo Trade Fair and the Rand Show in Joburg where he was invited one year to judge . He pursued various business ventures in Harare and joined the Agricultural Marketing Authority overseeing the government parastatal Dairy Marketing Board.
Dave then imported Angora and Boer goats and Karakul sheep from Namibia and designed a quarantine station for them on the farm where, using a team of veterinarians from New Zealand, he carried out a successful embryo export business exporting live goat and cattle embryos all over the world.
The drought of 1992 and 1995 nearly collapsed the farm, but Dave eked out the very last blade of grass from the pastures. The Sussex and Brahman studs were sold and the dairy herd was thinned out drastically. Once the good rains returned to Mashonaland, wildlife including Giraffe, Zebra, Impalas and Ostriches were introduced onto the farm and Dave also started up a Suffolk sheep stud and became chairman of the National Sheep and Goat Cooperative abattoir.
The beef cattle herd built up to over 700 head until the Land Distribution Program saw most of the farm compulsorily acquired for resettlement and the remaining farm was too small to support that number of cattle. Since the millennium, flowers have been a very important part of Keymer Farm. The Pack shed was developed by Dave, Allister and Simon to pack the flowers for export all over the world. Recently vegetables such as tomatoes and peas have also been grown on Keymer, and more sheep and cattle have been introduced on the farm.
Despite being semi-retired Dave was very much a part of the farm. He did everything with great purpose and pride. He never put off anything till tomorrow; rather he sorted everything out as soon as he could. Dave passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on 16th December, 2010 after battling for some time with Motor Neuron Disease. He is buried on the farm under a big tree overlooking the dam.
I come from the Karoi farming area and after graduating married Elaine and we have three sons, Adrian, Brian and Clive. Like many others, I also lost my farm in 2004. I had just recently spent a small fortune on building a completely new tobacco curing system when the land invasions happened so I moved to Harare but finding something to do was difficult. I worked for a while with a company doing garden irrigation and borehole repairs. The job was very boring as it was mainly sitting in a small office waiting for the phone to ring a few times a day, and I often fell asleep! “Bring a book with you”, the boss would say!
We decided to move to Scotland in 2008. We now reside in a small village named “Ballachulish” on Loch Leven in the Highlands of Scotland. There is some really spectacular scenery around here, and the mountains are mostly snow-covered during winter. My three sons are all here in the UK – two near London doing IT work, and the third here next door to us. He has his own small business doing home renovation and general small building jobs, and I sometimes help him. He just recently assisted with a small hydro-electric scheme on a large estate near here, and I spent some time with him on that as well.
I do find all this physical work a bit too hard though, and need to find something a bit easier! Work around here is very limited and is mainly in the tourist/hotel industry. All very foreign to me and I’m finding settling in difficult. The people around here are generally friendly though, so no problems there. Elaine was working half days at a small supermarket in the village and enjoyed it. Farming is very low key around here – mainly a few sheep and cattle to be seen, but no cropping. A bit of pine forestry is done on the lower mountain slopes.
The climate here is something else – winters freezing cold (down to around -18C) with snow and ice - the first time I have ever seen snow. Summers are a bit better, but we do not get much sun up our way. Plenty of light rain throughout the year, and wind at times can be pretty severe. So now I know why they are so pale up here! On the rare occasion when it looks like a good day for a braai, you are driven crazy by “The Midge” – tiny small midges that come out in their millions and bite you. If you have to work outside, as I often do, you will need to be fully covered with a net over your face. Fortunately they are only troublesome during parts of the summer. I always thought you only got pesky bugs in Africa! Really miss Zim’s fantastic weather and wildlife that I used to take for granted.
Sadly Elaine passed away from cancer in March 2015.
Robert R. Beaton, “Rob”.
Rob was born in Bulawayo in 1946 and moved to Northern Rhodesia three years later when his father became the Station Engineer at the Livingstone Airport. Rob had two brothers and two sisters and he attended Livingstone Infant and Primary Schools before moving to Salisbury in 1955. Thereafter he was a pupil at several schools as his family moved around the country. He can claim to being the ‘old boy’ of numerous schools including Avondale Primary School, Amandas Junior School, Karoi Junior School, and then Prince Edward, Milton High School and Mount Pleasant High School for his senior schooling. Rob hastens to add that this long list of educational establishments that he attended was not because he was expelled from any of them, only that his family kept on the move.
Having decided to apply for Gwebi he found that he needed to improve his ‘O’ Levels to be accepted and he did just that before working for Wessels Weller at Msoneddi as well as Peter Davies at Karoi in 1964 for his pre-Gwebi practical. Rob enjoyed all the subjects at Gwebi, but tended to prefer the cropping side rather than livestock and was awarded the hotly contested Campbell Shield for the Best All Round Second Year Student in Tobacco. Rob played Rugby for the College 2nd XV and his vac job, between his First and Second Year, was with the Ministry of Water Affairs in Salisbury keeping him close to the action in the capital city. Gwebi was the perfect platform for Rob’s sense of humour and the life-long friends he made there went with him, after graduating, down to Llewellin Barracks when they did their nine months military commitment with most of their time being spent at the resort town of Kariba on the Zambian border. He later on in his military career transferred from the Army to PATU.
After finishing with the Army, Rob worked for Robin Walker at Bindura but following a severe drought he joined the Seed Department of the Farmers’ Co-op in Salisbury. Rob was anxious to join his Gwebi friends who were gravitating to the UK but was stymied by passport problems which he overcame with his usual resourcefulness, part of which was by applying to Writtle College in the UK, being accepted but which Rob had no intention of attending, giving a residential address in South Africa and then collecting the passport from the British High Commission in Lourenço Marques, Mozambique. He landed in the UK in 1968.
Rob found Greg Tams and his other Gwebi friends in Earls Court and it wasn’t long before they put themselves to work in the UK, mainly in steel erection, in places like Street in Somerset, Durham up in the north, Edinburgh in Scotland and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. Rob also did a stint on ‘Arpet A’, an oil rig in the North Sea with Marty from C17. During this time Rob bought a motorbike and inevitably had an accident while riding through the Yorkshire Moors but fortunately sustained no lasting injuries. Eventually they formed their own company called Gwebi Steel which proved to be very successful due to their high work ethic but this loose partnership obviously closed down some years later when everyone went their separate ways, Greg to go and live in Australia and Rob onto other adventures.
Back in London, on a break from the steel erection, Rob was approached by Barry Lane, a former policeman from Rhodesia, who asked him if he would like to take a job as a Masseur and Gym Instructor on the S.S. Australis of the Chandris Lines which was embarking on a round the world cruise? Barry himself was taking the job as Master-at-Arms due to his previous police experience in the BSAP. Although Gwebi did not include gym management or massage in its curriculum Rob didn’t hesitate for a second, knowing that although the salary wouldn’t be great, the perks and benefits would be enormous. He later admitted it was the most difficult job he’d ever undertaken – harder than any gwaza at Gwebi, harder than working on the oil rigs and harder than the steel erection with Gwebi Steel – he was physically exhausted at the end of every day but still the girls came knocking at his door.
So off Rob sailed, from Southampton to Bremerhaven and then to the Canary Islands before calling in at Cape Town where Dave Eastwood was working as a driving instructor. During their thirty hour stopover here Rob and Dave hatched a plan over a few beers to smuggle Dave aboard as a stowaway which worked until the boat was well across the Indian Ocean. Dave had even sat at the Captain’s table for dinner before it was discovered that he was not a paying passenger or even a crew member but a stowaway and Dave was put into jail on the liner and then escorted to the local jail of every port they stopped at until they reached the UK. On docking at Southampton Dave was taken into custody by the British Police and deported back to Rhodesia and half the airfare, £178, was deducted by Chandris Lines from Rob’s salary for his part in this escapade. Rob claims he’s never been reimbursed by Dave for this amount, in spite of Dave’s free round-the-world-cruise, albeit seen through the bars of a jail. One positive outcome from this cruise was Rob met Joan at a ‘crossing of the equator party’, an Australian girl who boarded the boat in Melbourne and to whom he later became engaged although they never did get married.
Rob, now settled down with his fiancée in London, went back to Gwebi Steel but after some time Rob and Joan decided to return to Rhodesia in 1970 where he took a job with the Tobacco Corporation in Salisbury. After a year, in 1971, they moved to Australia and Rob was employed selling cane harvesting equipment in Sydney but the pull of Rhodesia was too strong and he returned on his own in January 1972.
Back home Rob was soon employed by Duly’s in Marandellas selling tractors and farm implements and was then transferred to Umvukwes in 1974 and then to Sinoia in 1975 as Sales Manager but resigned as he felt he could do better concentrating on selling Strath Brown’s ‘Manipular’ tobacco clips. During this time he had bought a boat in partnership on Kariba which made him eligible to transfer to the Marine Wing of the Police Reserve from PATU which necessitated him doing all his call-ups on the Lake. Having done his initial military call-up of nine months, most of which was spent at Kariba, Rob was very familiar with the Lake, and so the Marine Wing is where he stayed until the end of the war. Rob confesses that one of the biggest dilemmas he faced during these call-ups was whether to take a bream rod or a tiger rod and which he usually resolved by taking both.
Rob, whilst on one of these call ups down at Kariba, had been observing with interest the experimentation that the Government Fisheries Department were conducting with Irvin and Johnson and, curious to find out more, made some enquiries and then followed up with his own research. There was much discussion about a fledgling fishing industry on Lake Kariba based on a sardine species, locally called Kapenta, which had been generously introduced from Lake Tanganyika by the Zambian Government. The Zambians were hoping that these fish would stay on their side of the lake but the kapenta, oblivious to political boundaries, were soon found all over Kariba. One Zambian parliamentarian, outraged that the Rhodesians were benefitting from this bountiful gesture, suggested that a net be placed in the lake along the 220 km length of the border between the two countries to prevent the kapenta from leaving Zambian waters.
Rob, excited as to what he perceived to be a very promising business opportunity, formed a company, obtained a licence and was one of the five pioneers of the kapenta fishing industry on Kariba which has done exceptionally well for him. Starting with one Kapenta Rig in 1977, Zambezi Proteins expanded to twelve, but now operates with nine due to three licences being transferred to indigenous businessmen. Rob has been at the forefront of innovative ideas in the kapenta fishing industry including more efficient ways of improving the harvesting of these sardines. He has established an office and administration complex which includes a workshop and a yard where the catch is dried before being sold.
Rob has enjoyed building houseboats for Kariba which are used on fishing trips for him and his friends but also to be leased out on a commercial basis. His first boat was Citation which he built and shared with a partner. BC Engineering in Harare, namely Lionel Brookstein, was the builder and this boat was 42 foot long had two cabins and 2 six cylinder engines and weighed about 22 tonnes and was launched on Christmas day 1983. The next boat that he had built by the same builder was Concorde in 1991 and it was finished in November 1994. It was 92 feet long and weighed 112 tonnes. It had 7 en-suite cabins all air conditioned throughout. The boat had 2 x 320hp turbo engines and two 42 kw gensets for the air conditioning. It was considered the second largest boat on the Lake. The next houseboat, Denmaryne, more modest than Concorde at 66 feet long was built on site in Kariba.
He has also been a keen pilot since 1981 when he took his PPL and has participated in several Zim Sun Air Rallies. His ownership of various aircraft proved to be a great saving, both in time and money, when flying between Kariba and Harare and even down to South Africa to collect spares. The aircraft that he has owned were a Cessna Cardinal 177RG, then a Beechcraft Baron 58 Twin before finally settling on a Cessna 210 and he clocked up 3500 hours before ill health forced him to call it a day in 2012.
Rob was undoubtedly C16’s Olympic gold medallist of marriage, always trying to do the right thing by marrying the girls that passed through his life but understandably not all of them wanted to get married, but the three good looking girls that did take the plunge, not all at once of course, were Dinah, then Debbie and finally Lillian. From the first two of these wives came three wonderful sons, Sebastian, Giles and Nicholas. Sadly, Giles tragically died in a vehicle accident near Makuti in 1987 and Debbie passed away from cancer in 2001. In an analogy that is both fitting and appropriate for a kapenta fisherman from Kariba, Rob’s third wife operated very much like those Russian Fishing Trawlers that sucked every living thing from the seabed just off the coast of Mozambique back in the eighties, leaving very little of any worth or value in the sand after the trawler had passed by. Rob has faithfully promised his friends that he will never get married again.
Rob has suffered from heart problems since 2012, probably brought about by that Russian Trawler, which has involved stents and a pacemaker being inserted into his body, as well as having both hips replaced. Rob has now moved to Borrowdale, Harare permanently in 1990 but continues to run his business at Kariba with managers.
Christopher C. Brook, “Chris”.
Before I start my life after leaving Gwebi, do you know that I was almost booted out of Gwebi? It was Stan Hodierne who saved my bacon, but that is a long story and can keep for another time if anyone’s interested. When I left Gwebi I went straight to S.A. the reason being that my father inherited some money in the U.K. and because of U.D.I. and sanctions they wouldn't even send it to S.A. unless we left Rhodesia. So my Dad bought a pineapple farm near East London, the cheapest farm on the books, so he was just able to make the deposit with very little left over plus our R100 each which we were allowed to take out. My father wasn't a farmer having lost it all trying to be one (he would plant mealies in January and then wonder why he got no crop). So the plan was for me to run the farm but until I got there I didn't even know what a pineapple plant looked like. East London compared to Rhodesia was like comparing apples to nuts. Our neighbours were Klinnenhoffen, Zeeman, Franstein and Hoggerman - all German settler stock, not easy people to get on with. The black people, the Xhosa, on the other hand, I found to be very interesting, their manners, their customs and culture I had never seen before and I made an effort to learn their language (very difficult thing to do, full of tongue twisting clicks) and I am still not very good at it. The pineapples were not very successful so we started growing vegetables, cabbages no less, and tomatoes, every year getting bigger and bigger but still not getting any richer, till the government bought us out as part of their grand plan! I was there 14 years.
For fun I raced motorbikes, having a bit of success, winning the 500c.c. motor cross and the overall championship, including track, club championship (the East London Motorcycle and Car Club). The cup was enormous taking 8 bottles of champagne and they made me sit in the middle of the room and it went from me to someone in the circle then back to me again so after it was finished I had drunk 4 bottles! I made it home. After 6 years of biking, I started a hang gliding club in East London. Then I did some Hobie Cat racing and then crewed on an offshore yacht doing the East London to Port Elizabeth and the Durban to East London races for two years, this was something I really enjoyed.
However while I was travelling down the road to Damascus I witnessed two horrific events of extreme police brutality. I won’t go into the gory details but this started in me a process where I did a complete about turn in my life. I started to question what the hell were we as white people doing in Africa? Instead of turning a blind eye to things happening around me I started to look and to read books that I would never have read before (with the help of two sociologist friends of mine) which went right back to the British class system (something my parents were obsessed with). Anyway to cut a long story short and leave out any sermons, I decided to change. In 1975 I met and fell in love with a Xhosa girl, Ntsintsi, and to hell with the mixed marriage act - I married her. As no church would do it, we did according to Xhosa custom. Well, that really put the cat amongst the pigeons! We didn't hide it, we would walk down the main street hand in hand. On one occasion we both went to watch the musical, ‘Ipi Ntombi’, at the theatre. They refused to let me in as it was 'Blacks Only’ night. I caused a rumpus and the police arrested me. When I told them I had every right to be there, they didn't know what to do, so they slapped me around, called me every rude name they could think of, but they couldn't prove a thing so had to let me go, but saying they were going to get me! These were the days of the Donald Woods, Steve Biko, Matthew Goniwe and the Cradock Four escapes and murders hitting the news, so maybe they were too busy with that lot. I had two big Alsatians at home so they couldn't catch us in the 'act' but in 1978 Ntsintsi became pregnant so we had to get out.
Off to the Transkei where we could survive, living in a caravan, we started collecting seaweed and exporting it to Japan. It turned out to be a very good business. We lived in Port St John’s, a beautiful place. Capital Radio from London had just arrived and were a great bunch of guys but then we decided to go and give England a bash. Tried to go overland in an old Combi, but our S.A. passports stopped us north of Zim. Back to friends in Joburg and sold the Combi. We flew out at Jan Smuts expecting trouble, not much, just 'piss off and don't come back.’ In England we were helped a lot by S.A. political exiles, got a job as a motor mac (lousy!) and a flat in Peckham (even worse!) and managed to arrange a marriage certificate but after six months of cold miserable weather we decided to return back to sunny S.A.
Jan Smuts airport. Oh dear! Ntsintsi, me, baby Kent, marriage certificate, mixed marriage act, 1981, P.W. Botha and the total onslaught! Our friends in England were furious with us, said we were going to our doom! By an amusing bit of fortune a guy, two in-front of us at the passport control, declared he had magazines in his brief case. They opened them up to find them to be porno mags. They pounced on them, "This is bleery disgusting, Heell those are big tits! " They didn't even look at us or stamp our passports; we just walked through. ‘Viva South Africa, Viva.’ Off to the Transkei, more seaweed picking for two years, and then joined Transkei Agric Co. as project manager in the Port St John’s area. The white staff were 80% recently arrived Zims. There were two guys from Prince Edward and we used to call these Zimbabweans, much to their annoyance, the ‘When We'es.’ In Port St John’s, much to our amazement, Reid-Daly and the Selous Scouts pitched up to train the Transkei army. We all got on well together.
The maize project (1000 ha. in total with each family with 1 ha.!) went well (I could write a book about it) and, all in all, one of the happiest times of my life. Our second son James arrived, and then I got moved to head office in Umtata as the technical advisor for the loans division and later as research officer. While working for Tracor I learnt more about farming than any other time in my life. We flew everywhere, meetings, workshops, courses, research stations and sometimes just for fun. Totally crazy time. I also rented a small dairy farm next to the location, selling milk direct to the public, but after 5 years my rent was up, Tracor was imploding and S.A. was getting ugly (last ditch stands always are), so off back to England.
We had enough money to buy a house this time. First job - motor mac (hell), second job - tractor mac (shit!) and then third job, thought I had the one this time. Rothamsted Research Station, the oldest and biggest Agricultural Research Station in the world. Did you know that all the fields at Gwebi were named after Rothamsted? My job - tractor driver! (you have to start somewhere). So there I was back ploughing up Broadbalk! This is a fertilizer/manure experiment started in 1843 but had to be one of the worst jobs I had ever had in my life. Too long to explain. So sold our house for nice profit.
Mandela released. Back to the land of beer, braai and boerers. Worked in the Transkei for a few months as a welder in a new factory but things in S.A. were almost out of control. Everyone was talking war - IFP (S. A. Police) and ANC were at war. Then Mandela put out his hand and calmed the whole thing down. We bought Cold Spring dairy farm next to Grahamstown, 18 years hard labour, paid off all our debts, bought some more land, sent the two boys to Kingswood College (that’s why we had to make bucks) then to Rhodes for their B.Sc's. Then in 2007 some crazies came and made us an offer we couldn't refuse, said they wanted to make our farm into a golf estate. Two years later after a hell of lot of stress they paid us out and then they went bankrupt. Now our lovely farm is another game farm (the whole of the Eastern Cape is just game farm after game farm). We kept 34 hectare and built a smallish house and retired, tired, exhausted, totally buggered. In fact I ended up in hospital having a bypass op (ouch!). Since then built some yachts (not so successful). Just bought a house in Port Alfred that looks over the sea. The land is awesome but the house was not so great, so like an idiot I just about pulled it to pieces. Oh dear, more stress, but in 1 or 2 months it will be sort of finished and if you ever come by here pop in and you can lie in bed and look over the sea. I also have a boat in the harbour and a couple of motor bikes to help blow away the cobwebs.
When I had my by-pass op, I asked my doc – Why did he think I had this problem, I thought I was fairly fit? He said, Yes, I was fairly fit and that was probably why I didn't have a heart attack. But maybe I have had a lot of stress in my life or maybe I have been an adrenalin junkie, which causes ones veins to wear out and crack and then cholesterol tries to fill the cracks and blocks the pipes.---Well? Yes! Maybe! My dad also did some crazy stuff. He must have passed on his genes so it’s not all my fault. So this is a stressed-out adrenalin junkie’s very condensed story of 'Life after Gwebi'.
James A. Davis. “Jim” .
I attended Gwebi from Zambia. I had schooled at Falcon College and Gilbert Rennie and after Gwebi returned to Zambia where I ran a Mechanisation Scheme for the Government covering the Southern Province. I got married in 1971 to Wendy Ord from Harare and now have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. We moved to Rhodesia in 1972 and worked for Rex Morkel in Shamva. In 1978 I joined the Institute for Agricultural Engineering but as soon as the war ended we moved to our own Bemberero Farm in Shamva and farmed there till 2003 when the land issue forced us off. I farmed most crops but eventually specialised in oranges. .
In the late 1990s I represented the farmers of Central Mashonaland at the CFU council as Branch Chairman. I continued to play cricket for Shamva from 1973 till 2001 when the situation stopped all the country clubs playing. Unable to survive without our farm and the country’s economy imploding, we left Zimbabwe in 2015 and now are in the UK.
R. Peter Drummond. “Pete”.
Peter was home birthed in Salisbury on the 19th March, 1946. He has a younger sister Chrystal who has kept an eye on him throughout his life. Pete was educated at Avondale Primary School, then Highlands Junior School and finished his schooling with Churchill School in Eastlea, Salisbury. At the age of 14 he contracted Polio in his legs but Pete did not allow this condition to hamper him at all, and whilst at senior school, Pete played the bagpipes in the well-known Churchill School Pipe Band which toured all over the country and, because of his musical ability, he also played the guitar in a schoolboy rock band. Pete developed into a fine athlete and was the Rhodesian Inter-School Under 16 Champion and held the record for the One Mile. He was an effortless long distance runner who could always put in a great performance without training very hard, an attribute he later used to good effect at Gwebi – he claimed that the time taken for training, especially for long distance running, got in the way of his many other businesses and social activities.
Having decided to go farming Pete left school in 1963 and did his pre-Gwebi training with Ken Simpson on Mukwene Farm in the Enterprise farming area where they bred Red Polls as dual purpose cows and grew Virginia and Burley tobacco as well as maize. To make a bit more money he also worked for five months at the Feruka Oil Refinery at Umtali.
Pete breezed through Gwebi taking the theoretical and practical side of farming in his stride as well as numerous business sidelines to give him a bit more pocket money. It is fair to say that Pete had a very wide range of interests, from numerous girls to V8 American cars that he found on the scrap heaps of farms that the Gwebi students visited. The fact that these gas guzzlers did about 5 miles to the gallon once up and running didn’t bother Pete as he always seemed to find the money for fuel and petrol coupons that were necessary during those difficult times.
Pete was the Secretary of the Athletics team whilst in his First Year and also represented the College with the Second XV Rugby team. During his vac between First and Second Year he worked on a Jersey Dairy Farm in Zambia close to Lusaka for Doreen Fleming, the Guardian of Ed ‘Blondie’ Holden from C15.
After graduating from Gwebi, all of C16, with the exception of four graduates who had already done their military commitment, reported for military call-up, mostly to Llewellin Barracks with twelve of them, including Pete, going onto the School of Infantry in Gwelo for leadership training. Those that were in the Army spent the bulk of their nine months on the border at Kariba which suited them just fine.
With his military commitment now behind him Pete went to work for Dick Bylo in Karoi where the main crop was tobacco and, after a year’s hard work, part of his tobacco bonus of £1000 was spent on a Zephyr Zodiac. Emboldened by his increased cash flow Pete decided to strike out on his own by growing mushrooms in Dick’s barns, then onto Mike Hampson’s farm and finally onto Arnie Bathurst’s property as well as freelance farming with some contract fencing thrown in.
Realising that growing mushrooms wasn’t as easy as it looks Pete wisely took himself off to Penhalonga to work for a mushroom expert, a former German U-Boat Commander called Loubeker, who paid him the princely sum of £40 a month and provided him with a three-quarter size girl’s bicycle as farm transport. Pete was never able to decide whether these miserly terms and conditions were pay back for all the times the submarine Kapitan was depth-charged by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Pete was often embarrassed when Jim Meikle and Cocky Coke Norris drove past the farm on their way to town, coming close to colliding with other vehicles whilst laughing so hard at Pete’s mode of transport. This learning curve lasted five months and in 1969 Pete returned to Karoi to work for Jimmy Upton, a tobacco farmer, and later on that year joined the Farmers’ Co-op as a Stockfeed Advisor working under the well-known animal nutritionist Bert Weedon in Salisbury. Pete’s first accommodation was in Mrs. Cooper’s garage close to the Park Lane Hotel and Pete, learning the ropes of this complex job under the expert tuition of Bert and Keith Mills (C14), was soon transferred to Sinoia and then Rusape before returning back to Salisbury to manage Rumevite.
In December 1972 Pete married Lindsey de Haast, the love of his life and the wife who stood by him through all those difficult times in Rhodesia during the Bush War. Interestingly Pete had seen Lindsey several years before they married, when she was still a schoolgirl, and liking the look of this young maiden, walked up to her and struck up a conversation which was his normal and forthright approach to girls, young or old. Establishing her name, place of residence and age he realised that Lindsey was way too young and probably had a cantankerous and protective father with a shotgun, so he dug into his pocket and gave her a tickey, which was the price of a phone call from a public call box in those far off days, and asked her to phone him when she turned sixteen! It is not known whether Lindsey did phone him but Pete kept her on his radar and soon after Lindsey left school they did get married and they had four sons, Garth, Troy, Shane and Peter James and finally a daughter, Misty.
This eight year stay with the Farmers’ Co-op was very beneficial to Pete, learning about the practical side of cattle and sheep rearing from a wide variety of farmers in Mashonaland and Manicaland and he started several sidelines on farms and smallholdings close to wherever he was stationed with the Farmers’ Co-op. He eventually had three different sheep stations on various properties between Salisbury and Headlands as well as two cattle stations which in the end, even with Lindsey’s help, was proving to be too difficult to manage along with his job with Farmers’ Co-op, so he resigned and entered into an arrangement to take over Bormu Farm from the Fischers at Headlands. Here he was able to consolidate all his sheep and cattle onto one farm and grew tobacco, commercial and seed maize and barley.
In 1978 Pete, Lindsey and their two eldest boys were attacked by a terrorist gang in their home one evening on Bormu Farm. Here is an account of that incident.
‘Pete ran from window to window firing a few shots from each one, hoping to give the impression that there were many people with weapons in the house. Lindsey, in the meantime, tried to wake their two boys and put them in the safe area. Garth, half asleep, muttered ‘Don’t worry Mum, Dad will shoot them’, rolled over and went to sleep again. Troy refused to wake up and had to be carried, along with his brother, to the safe area. Lindsey then contacted the local JOC/Police Station using the Agric Alert to inform them that their home was under attack and could they please send some reinforcements? Luckily the terrorists didn’t press home their attack as Pete was clearly outnumbered and outgunned. When the cavalry did arrive they were astonished at how calm Lindsey had been over the Agric Alert, where in the ops room at the Police Station, they could all hear the gunfire in the background as Lindsey was talking. The policeman who took the call said it was as though Lindsey had been politely inviting them to the farm for a cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake!’
Headlands farming area was always a hotbed of terrorist activity with several farmers being murdered, some abducted and landmines being laid in farm roads - the security situation had always been difficult. Independence brought a cessation of hostilities but in spite of that Pete and Lindsey decided to sell up in 1980 and they moved to Avondale Estates in the Hartley farming area. They leased this farm from Tom de Vos, eventually purchasing it from him after five years.
When their close friends and neighbours, the Patersons, sold Coburn Estates in 1990 to the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), Pete decided to sell to them as well and he then bought the 7000 acre Hunyani Estate adjacent to Darwendale Dam from the Mullers. Here there was ample opportunity for irrigation and Pete, along with a partner, has installed nine centre pivots to irrigate wheat, barley and potatoes. With two of his sons, Troy and Shane, now assisting him Pete has expanded his farming operations especially ‘Drummond Chickens’ and he has installed a chicken abattoir which has the capacity to process up to eight thousand chickens a day and they sell their broilers to the ever insatiable market in Harare. They also have 1200 sheep and 200 head of cattle.
Very sadly Lindsey passed away in May, 2014 from inoperable cancer and Pete has been supported and sustained by his large family and his strong Christian Science faith during this heartbreaking time. He has survived the ‘tsunami’ that has destroyed Zimbabwe’s agriculture by being nimble on his feet, mentally agile and going with the flow rather than trying to swim upstream. Due to his contacts within the ruling party Pete was able to assist Rob Smart and his family back onto their farm at Rusape in 2018 even though Pete himself has ‘lost’ part of his own farm at Norton. Pete loves nothing better than being in the company of his family and especially his numerous grandchildren and says he will just keep on keeping on in the new Zimbabwe.
Howard S. Duckworth.
Howard was born in Uxbridge, England on the 14th January, 1943 due to his father being stationed there during World War 2.
After the war, Howard’s parents returned to Rhodesia and eventually bought Portbury Farm at Balla-Balla where Howard and his three siblings grew up. Howard attended Hillside Junior School and then Milton Senior in Bulawayo.
Howard was a keen and enthusiastic sportsman at Gwebi representing the College at Cricket and Tennis in both years.
After graduating Howard returned to the family farm in Balla-Balla before taking a job with Sabi Development at Chiredzi down in the Lowveld. Noticing an advert in the papers for a vacancy as a Field Inspector with the Rhodesia Cattle Co-Op in 1969, Howard successfully applied for this position and stayed with them for eight years, firstly in Salisbury and then in Fort Victoria. During 1970 Howard married Shirley Watson, a schoolteacher in Salisbury, and they had twin girls, Ashleigh and Kerry, and a son Douglas.
Howard then joined Conex in Fort Victoria in 1976 doing three years before joining the Butler family who owned Amazon Ranch and Foley’s Luck at Filabusi. Here he managed 800 head of Brahman cross bred cattle. Moving closer to home in 1983 he joined a much larger Swiss ranching company owned by Von Daniken at Balla-Balla where he settled in for seven years. In 2000 dissident activity, land invasions and political unrest had been flaring up in Matabeleland for some time, the Swiss were not happy with the unfolding situation, so Howard and family moved back to Portbury Farm.
Howard was arrested in 2002 by the ZRP for the crime of residing peacefully on the family farm, charged at Esigodini Police Station and appeared at the Court in Gwanda resulting, as with most farmers in the country, in the loss of his farm. Howard had no option but to move into Bulawayo where he now grows vegetables on leased smallholdings close to the city. Fortunately Shirley was able to return to teaching at Whitestone School. They have four grandchildren which give them much pleasure and Howard enjoys playing Bowls several times a week at a local club.
Brian N. du Preez.
My early years were spent on my Dad’s farm in the Odzi district and attended Junior school from 1954 -1958 at Chancellor Junior School in Umtali as it was then known. From 1959-1963 I was a pupil at Umtali Boys High which I left just after the Kennedy assassination. My achievements there can only be described as underwhelming. My Father was killed in a motor accident at age 39 and before my fifteenth birthday and I developed a rather rebellious attitude which placed academic achievements very low on the agenda. The one area I may have done well was in rugby, but this was curtailed by a fairly serious injury early in the last season which kept me out for 6 weeks.
Leaving school was pre Gwebi practical spent on a farm at Poundsley owned by Mr. Frank Vivier and under the manager Mr. George Yeo, the father of my school friend of the same name. Main crop grown was tobacco with some cattle on the side.
1964-1966 was spent at Gwebi and were some of best years of my life where many lifelong friends were made with whom I am still in contact. I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Howard Duckworth in the 1st year, and with Colin Lowe in the 2nd year. We were blessed with some wonderful sportsmen in our Course 16.
Gwebi was followed by the then mandatory 9 months in the army with, I think, 16 or 17 other Gwebi-ites, so you can only imagine what a shambles that was. We were known as the rebel 81st intake and was for me like a paid, albeit very poorly, holiday, especially as the 2nd four-and-a-half months were in Kariba. I got a pass on my first weekend at Llewellin Barracks as I was chosen to play rugby and must admit I enjoyed the army and seemed to thrive under the discipline.
After the army stint I worked for Paddy Millar in the Mazoe district. He was a leading farmer in the area and grew seed maize in the days when it was still shelled by hand. Other crops grown were cotton, wheat and commercial maize. These were the days of La Boheme and Le Coq d’Or and I fell asleep late one Sunday night returning from a session at one of them, ending up on a bank of gravel in my Triumph TR3 with all four wheels off the ground.
Itchy feet drove me overseas for two years spent doing the normal mundane jobs, working on the oil rigs which I really enjoyed, driving tractors and generally living a fairly debauched life. The trip from Salisbury to Cape Town was memorable in that it was the same time that Cape Town universities started so the train was full of lovely young women.
Returning from the UK I worked for Mr. Brian Edwards in the Hartley district growing cotton, lucerne which was dried and milled, commercial maize and cattle. A memory from there was land prep for maize after maize, done in a single operation with a 3 furrow disc plough at a depth of 400-450mm and pulling a roller behind.
After this I worked for Wright Rain irrigation doing installation based first in Salisbury and then Chiredzi. 1973 was a memorable year in that I got married, lost my step father and also my best friend Graham Cowling killed in an aeroplane accident. While there I was offered a job with Rod Mackay at Mkwasine growing cotton and wheat under irrigation. He then leased a piece of ground on the Limpopo from John Bristow owner of Sentinel ranch and I went there to grow cotton under furrow irrigation. Whilst there I was helping a friend who had a hunting concession on the ranch, which was 32,000 hectares in extent, to check on some South African hunters. One of them offered me a job in RSA running a stud Friesland/Holstein dairy farm just out of Pretoria. Moved to RSA in late 1975, stayed two years on the dairy farm, milking cows and growing some maize and Teff grass pastures and then moved on to Marble Hall where I worked for Clarke Cotton on their farm just out of town. I learnt a lot about Israeli methods of cotton growing and machine picking.
Border farms were being offered by the SA government on the Limpopo River so I was able to lease a small farm for a year and then managed to get a low interest loan to buy. Grew cotton, wheat rotation under irrigation and lasted for 12 years but lost the farm owing to over capitalisation, some severe droughts and a hailstorm which wiped out a lovely wheat crop not insured. Farming was difficult in those years with interest on hire purchase running at 33% on annual repayments.
After this I tried various jobs including garden services, managing a supermarket, managing a game farm when I was offered a position on a big family owned farm growing cotton, wheat, factory tomatoes and establishing citrus. My work entailed water supply, building, fencing and general maintenance. At one stage we grew 1000 hectares of cotton and 600 hectares of wheat and I had over 90 boreholes on the banks of the Limpopo River. As the citrus was being established so the cropping hectarage was reduced and other crops such as potatoes and pumpkins for market were introduced. I now work on the citrus section where we have 500 hectares of established citrus including grapefruit, various orange varieties and a newly established block of 40 hectares of lemons.
I have been with this family operation for more than 20 years and am still very actively working at an age when most people have, or should have retired.
David M. Eastwood, “Dave”.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, in many cases) the Parkinson’s has destroyed a lot of memory cells in, what I laughingly refer to as my brain. But I do have some abiding recollections of College. Such as our first tea and Peter D, with that goofy smile of his, and porker’s vas deferens dangling through his “magaps”. My taste buds still smart from many doses of ammoniated quinine. I remember trying to be Mr. Cool and, when politely asked “what are you?” instead of the programmed “I am a xxxxxxx xxxx”, I croaked “I am a new Gwebi student” for which impertinence I received a double dose of the vile muti!
I also harbour a vague memory of large, hairy guys prancing around on “stage” in home-made nappies during our end-of-initiation concert. Anyone out there remember our bridge school? Four of us played bridge right through the finals while the rest of you suckers sweated your revision, and we all passed – which is testament to bridge’s legendary propensity for stimulating the brain! Maybe someone out there remembers the team – Robbie was definitely one of us and, I think, “Cobbo” – but who was the fourth? Pete Storey?
So was off to national service, where most of us spent the nine months after Gwebi – although we probably employ a selective memory of only the good times. On de-mob, I worked for Ashley Staunton (one of nature’s gentlemen) at Enterprise, but had an attack of itchy feet and travelled to London after one season, where I kept myself in mild & bitter with an array of menial jobs – including working in a wine cellar, which offered too much incentive for larceny, so I moved on.
After a few months in UK, I secured an interesting job on a ship as a herd boy – delivering some pedigree cattle to an estate in Kenya. As agreed with “Union Cattle”, they dropped me off in Cape Town, where I worked as a car salesman and driving instructor (I know, I know – a bit cynical of a dangerous Gwebi driver), but it was a good way of meeting chicks!
After two years, I felt it was time to move on – but, by then, it was getting difficult for Rhodies to travel to most places, so, when my mate Rob Beaton docked in Cape Town on his way round the world as a gym instructor on a liner, we hatched a late night, alcohol induced plan for me to join him. As I absent-mindedly forgot to purchase a ticket, the ship’s officers and port officials wherever we docked were a bit disappointed in me, which resulted in me enjoying a world tour of the best cells the host countries could offer!
On arrival back in Blighty, Her Majesty’s Government very kindly bought me a ticket back to Rhodesia. They even sent some officials to make sure I was comfortably seated on the plane.
Back home, I slaved for Irvine’s Day Old chicks as a chicken salesman and fowl supervisor (in my spare time), but the itch had not been cured and I hitched my way to Joburg, where I sampled various types of employment, such as garden irrigation installer and paving salesman. After a year or so of partying with fairly unsavoury fellow bikers, I could see an abyss looming, so I approached an Uncle, who happened to be the “A” in LTA Construction, and asked him to organise me a job on his most remote contract.
With a wry smile, he despatched me to Nhlazatshe in Zululand (which qualified as extremely remote) where I started as a learner ganger – the lowest form of (white) life available at the time. I soon, however, inveigled my way into the soils lab and appointed myself as the “dirt doctor”. We completed the railway project and moved on to Mkuze to build a section of national road.
During this time, I met Jean in Durban and we got married but my Dad was getting tired, so we moved back home to run the family farm, where we begat two sons. Jean, however, never really enjoyed me going on constant call-ups and getting smashed at the Suri Suri club in between, so she moved back to Port Elizabeth – and I couldn’t blame her!
Dad sold Cigaro and I moved to Odzi, where I managed a large estate (Transsau Farms). During this time (soon after Independence) my new lady, Caro, was offered a great job in East London and decided to accept it. I was having an ongoing war with squatters at the time, and decided to follow her. We were married in East London and I acquired an instant daughter as part of the deal!
I re-joined LTA on a road contract in the Transkei, but living on site was a bit basic and I was missing my new family, so I bought a bike and would ride the 100 km home most days. I got over-confident and went quicker and quicker through the Kei cuttings until, one day, I ran out of road and came short – snapping tibia and fibula. I couldn’t work for a while, so I resigned from formal employment and bought a pre-cast concrete business.
After four years, our idyll in East London came to an end when Caro’s department moved to Joburg, where we bought and sold several houses and got involved in various enterprises, including a nursery and starting a concrete paving business. After 13 years we were tired of fending off criminals and, when our trained crew and half our equipment were hijacked one night, decided to return to Zim.
I worked for Sitra Pottery, which was a highly successful business. We used to ship a container of handmade tiles and pottery to the UK every six weeks, but the business operated on a farm in Melfort. When most of our neighbours became victims of the land grab, my boss, Nick Gambier, could see the wall scrawl and decided to close up shop. By that time Caro had established the Sitra Agency at Doon Estate in Msasa and we were able to source supplies of craft products from other sources, so we kept trading. It was an interesting and profitable little business, but, after five years, sales were dropping and there were other factors to consider – so, it was time to move on again.
Obviously, one aim was to get more effective treatment for my ailment, but we have a grandchild with hearing and speech problems, who also needs First World treatment, and our daughter needed to escape an abusive ex-husband, so we moved to UK in May 2011.
When we got here we very quickly discovered that we would need to show some form of stable income before we could upgrade my status as a tourist and organise visas for Tammy and her brood of four. We also realised, after criss-crossing England and suffering some unkind comments from Job Centres, that we were considered too old to work. Without a job and an income, one can’t open a bank account and without a bank account, one is precluded from renting a house – and the bank demand utility bills (which need to be sent to one’s house) in order to open an account. Catch 22 squared!
Eventually we bought a little dog-walking and pet-sitting business in Nottingham, which established us as stable citizens and, with a lot of fancy footwork, we were able to rent a house, open a bank account and move the whole family here. We would all rather be anywhere in Africa, but one has to make the best use of the hand life deals us, so here we are.
James J. Gilleran.
James was educated at St. George’s College in Salisbury and, after leaving Gwebi, worked for Wheeler at Trelawney but soon came to the realisation that buying and then selling tobacco on and then from the floors was a lot less stressful than growing it in the land, so opted to join the tobacco industry in Salisbury where he stayed for the rest of his working life.
James is now retired to Zinkwaze, north of Durban.
James M. de C. Hamilton.
Carol and I got married in 1970 and we have a daughter and son. Philippa (Pippa) is married and has two daughters aged 7 & 5, Rory is still sowing wild oats. Both of them live in Johannesburg where they finished off their senior schooling. We moved to S.A. in 1984 after a disastrous season in Zim where the farm I was in a partnership with literally got no rain that season. Since we moved down I have had a number of jobs, farming all around the country, mostly in the Highveld. I must admit that I found it very difficult especially not speaking Afrikaans and moving into Afrikaans areas. A while back I had a heart attack and we retired to Fourways in Jo’burg where we have been ever since.
Re initiation – I had forgotten lots of the things that have come up in recent emails. Interesting to bring back the memories. I remember our initiation when we had to go on quests as Pete and co had to get signatures. Alan Mitchell and I (I can’t remember if other people were also involved) were given the task of building a Fred Flintstone car and placing it in front of the cinemas in First Street? This we duly did with two 44 gallon drums as the wheels and some gum poles holding it all together and we put a thatched roof on top. I cannot remember how we got it to town but I do remember being told that the engine was too silent when it was going so we filled the drums with a whole lot of gravel chips. When pushed it now made one hell of a noise and you could tell that the motor was running (according to the 2nd years). Well we pushed this thing right in front of the doors of the cinema wearing white overalls and gum boots, placards etc and left it there and retired for a drink at the George. Half an hour later we got a message from “the Fokker” (Stan Hodierne). How the hell he managed to find us I don’t know but the message read “Police say remove that vehicle that you parked outside the cinemas immediately otherwise you will go to jail as it is a fire hazard”. Well we got into Alan’s Morris and beelined it for the flick houses. Sure enough when we got there we found that some idiot had thrown his cigarette onto the thatch and created a bonfire. The roof was about one third burnt and all the remaining thatch had been stripped off the roof and was lying around it. We tried to move it but the weight of the gravel had made the holes in the drums elliptical and the vehicle was jammed in gear. Well there was no ways we could move this so Alan, being a member of the AA phoned and arranged for a tow truck which duly arrived and we had a hell of a time trying to convince the driver that this was a vehicle registered to an AA member. If I remember correctly we parted with a £20 certificate with the Governor of the Reserve Bank’s face on it and much to our relief watched it disappear towards Kingsway with a tremendous oil leak as the gravel chips spilt from the drums all the way down the road. We then went back to the George for a well deserved Chibuku before going back to Gwebi to be greeted by the Fokker to find out if all had gone well.
Do you remember how the Fokker used to mark the tyres of everyone’s vehicles so he could check on how often you were going out? I don’t know how he did it but he had an intelligence network par excellence and made the NIA look like beginners. What an amazing man! He got me out of a lot of trouble. I can’t remember who I was with when we tried to steal the big fat Michelin man outside the garage at Charles Prince. Once again gravel chips were our undoing. There were two cars involved, possibly Alan Mitchell, Rob Smart and Andy Misdorp and myself, not sure exactly who was involved. When we tried to lift this damn thing up we discovered that the base was full of gravel chips. This delayed action giving time for the petrol attendants to get all excited and approach us with intent. We then ran like hell, jumped into the cars and retreated back to Gwebi, pissed as farts. When we got to Gwebi the Fokker was waiting for us as the garage had phoned the Police and we were apprehended by him until the Police arrived. The Fokker gave us 6000 words and said he would see what he could do. He got the charges dropped and we had to apologise in writing to the garage owner. (What a good man!)
Louis M. Heyns. Deceased.
Louis was born in Salisbury on 26th May 1947 and attended Hartley Junior School and then Prince Edward School in Salisbury. Louis was the eldest son to his parents, Hennie and Mini Heyns. Louis, his brother Hennie and sister Jenny grew up on the family farm, Oldham Estate Ranch just outside Hartley. Here Louis’ father Hennie, with his two brothers George and Niels, ran the well known Heyns Brothers Afrikaner stud herd. The Heynses were part of the Martin Trek that settled and started up Melsetter (Chimanimani) in 1894.
During his time at senior school, Louis contracted amoebic dysentery, a condition, which necessitated him being treated in Germany for several months. Although he recovered from this condition, this illness was to hound him for the rest of his life as it weakened his stomach and liver.
Louis did his pre-Gwebi with Koubus Streicher, a tobacco farmer near Selous. By this stage the Heyns Brothers had lost their wealth and farms. From having it all planned, Louis now had to pay his own way through College. Louis’ mother divorced his father and started Hartley Land & Estate in Hartley which she built up to a very successful business. Louis did well at Gwebi (1964-66) and, on graduating with a First Class Diploma, did his nine compulsory months in the Army with Intake 83 and most of C16 were called up with him and they spent much of their time on the border at Kariba.
After completing his army commitment, Louis worked for his uncle (1966-69), Roulf Hodgson, on Moria Ranch at Nuanetsi, a wildlife and beef ranch, with cotton under irrigation. He then returned to Hartley where he worked with his mother in the commercial trading company, dealing with farm inputs and commodities. During this time he started buying and selling cattle, which led him to the purchase of Balwearie Farm in 1969, about 4000 acres between Hartley and Chakari on the Suri Suri dam. This proved to be a worthwhile and positive investment, he turned this old game farm into a very successful agricultural farm. He built his cattle herd up to between 1000 and 2000 head. He also grew over 1000 acres of maize, cotton, soya beans, sorghum and groundnuts. In 1975, Louis was a finalist in the Maize Grower of the Year competition. In 1985 he was runner up Maize Grower of the Year and finally through his practice of zero tillage, Louis’ outstanding maize production resulted in him being awarded National Maize Grower of the Year in 1987 – a wonderful achievement. With this he travelled to U.S.A. and Brazil on a farming study tour. He was a member of the 10 tonne club. Louis achieved 10 tonnes of maize per hectare on several occasions.
Louis met his soul mate, Lorraine Moore, in 1970 at a party on the next door farm, Cornucopia. Lorraine was born in Zambia and was working at Farmers Coop at the time. Her mom was working for David Whitehead Textiles also in Hartley. Louis and Lorraine got married in December 1972 and they had two sons, Kurt (1975) and Zane (1978). .
Louis later bought Cornucopia in 1984 taking his cropping ability to a total of 1800 acres of crops. Louis was part of the farmers’ group who helped build Bryden Country School, just outside of Chegutu, along with Robbie Paterson.
In 1977-80 Louis also bought a farm in Weipe in South Africa on the Limpopo, growing ground nuts, cotton and vegetables. Later, between 1984 and 1987, he sold the Weipe farm and bought Sunmaria Game Farm further up river, which was converted into a cropping farm. With both farms, George Hodgson, his cousin, was his neighbour. He then helped his brother, Hennie, to settle in South Africa and sold him Sunmaria. Many family holidays were spent on Sunmaria in the bush camp, enjoying the amazing trees and game found on the Limpopo River.
George P. Hodgson.
Like my cousin, Louis Heyns, I attended Hartley Junior School and then onto Prince Edward in Salisbury.
Here are my enduring memories of Gwebi and then beyond, which firstly, are the long lasting friendships that I have made along the road of life.
My overseas trip with Robbie Paterson during our vac in between our First and Second Year at Gwebi.
Being caught by the Border Security at the US - Canadian border with my mate (who did not have a visa) hiding in the car boot, in the process of trying to visit Colin Lowe in North Dakota.
My rustication for three weeks from College for the attempted capture of the University Rag Queen in Salisbury.
Starting life on Moria Ranch in the Lowveld of Rhodesia, living in a shack made from empty rolled flat tar drums in Nuanetsi, to a 600 acre irrigation and 1700 head of cattle enterprise.
From Rhodesia to South Africa to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, then to the Congo, to Libya, to Australia, to Ecuador, to Columbia and then short periods in Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
I had a fulfilling sporting life in most sports, with the highlight being Captain of Rhodesian Under 20 Rugby for two years, then playing 5 games for the senior side, getting hurt, then 7 years later having a further 4 games, including being Captain, until a further injury ended my Rugby playing days.
A military requirement that had a huge impact on my life but ending up being one of the youngest Majors in the Rhodesian War, but with a life changing confrontation with a terrorist detachment commander and 32 of his sidekicks, in my farm shed at night that caused us to leave our beloved country immediately in July 1979, although I still did my call ups from South Africa.
Our farm in South Africa was expropriated from us, after building a monument from virgin bush to 600 ha. under pivots, 100 ha. of citrus with a packshed, and 400 ha. of fish dams. We were only compensated for the land - not improvements.
I married a wonderful South African girl, Ann, in 1974, who could hardly speak English. We had two sons Vance and Conrad, and a daughter, Lee Ann. Our second son, represented the USA in Sevens and 15 Rugby - being man of the Tournament of the 4 Nations.
The year in Libya, 2004, developing a world class fish farm in the desert, with unlimited budget to being the boss man over all the fish farms in the country. Unbelievable experience - the Vice President's private jet with Russian Pilots were made available to us. Sending us around the world buying equipment for the fish farm. Flying 40 tons of broodstock (two flight in a C130, with a Honda motor driving a compressor for aeration running inside the plane). The Libyans paid us a King's ransom, which started us off in Australia.
Tony Marillier and three guys that I took gold mining to South America is a complete story on its own.
Having an AK up my nostril in the Congo.
In Queensland, Bucky Rowlands and Mike Poffley live minutes from us with Rod Rix a hour away.
Presently we have a large timber farm and I am building a 2 x 6 metre furnace for making biochar - the problem is my welding is like bird shit. Even the eye sight is packing up but at least the main activity is still possible, although it take a little longer.
If any of you visit Australia, this is an open invitation to spend a few days with us. We are just an hour north of Brisbane by train. Ann and I would love to see you. We had a very blessed and interesting life. I know where I'm going - I hope you do too!
Colin M. Lowe.
I was born in Que Que so grew up with a ranching background. I attended St. Michael’s Prep School, Hartmann House and then St. George’s College in Salisbury. When I left school, uncertain as to what career I really wanted to follow or how to even go about it, I applied to the Cold Storage Commission to work on one of their many ranches throughout the country whilst I thought about my future. Ignoring my request to work on a ranch they fortunately put me to work in their abattoir in Salisbury which very quickly decided me that working for a large factory type corporation was definitely not the career path I wanted to follow. Fortuitously at this time I was called up to do my military commitment of four-and-a-half months down at Llewellin Barracks where I met Dave Garrard who had recently graduated with C13. Over many hours of waiting, which one does in the Army, we discussed Gwebi and all its benefits at length. On returning to the CSC I promptly applied to attend Gwebi and Rod Mundy arranged to interview me on the abattoir floor on one of his visits there with students. Rod told me that before accepting me at the College, I needed to get more practical experience on a farm, so I resigned from the CSC and worked for Sir Archibald James on Manyoni Estates, a large cattle ranch between Umvuma, Que-Que and Featherstone close to the Great Dyke.
I arrived at Gwebi with the rest of C16 on the 30th September, 1964 and so started the most enjoyable, challenging and interesting two years, and it was, without doubt, the turning point in my life. We worked hard, we had to if we wanted to pass into the second year, but we played even harder, fielding teams in Rugby, Cricket, Hockey, Squash, Tennis and Water-Polo and although the College never entered any Athletics competition outside the College, we competed fiercely with each other on the Athletics field.
I remember that first day so well, as we milled around trying to find our bearings and even our room, shared with another student, which was to be our work space and bed. I eventually found the room that I’d been allocated but most of it was taken up by this giant of a roommate called George who had captained Prince Edward at Rugby and then later on Rhodesian Schools, Mashonaland Under 20, Rhodesia Under 20 and then the Rhodesian Rugby team.
He eyed me dubiously as we introduced ourselves to each other.
‘So where did you go to school?’, he asked me.
‘St. George’s’, and I saw that look flick across his face that I would get to know so well over the following years when George was unhappy about something. His lips pressed together slightly and I knew George was unsure about this new roommate that he had been forced to share with. Later on I heard him ask his cousin, Louis Heyns, who was in the next door room, ‘Who is it that decides on the rooming arrangements and why can’t I make the choice as to who I share with? I mean, if it’s done alphabetically,’ said George quite logically, ‘my surname starts with ‘H’, your surname starts with ‘H’, how come we’re not together?’
‘Apparently,’ said Louis, ‘the decision is made by a guy called Mr. Fookin-Fookin who seems to be in charge and his word is final.’
George obviously must have got used to me over time because we remain firm friends to this day. I did ponder at the time, rather naively, over how someone could have the most unusual double-barrel surname of Fookin-Fookin until sometime later I was put right by one of the Second Years who told me that yes, that man was the Hostel Warden but that his real name was Stan Hodierne and that his nickname came from his descriptive turn of phrase.
I thoroughly enjoyed our initiation which, for me, was no worse than boarding school and I was amused to note that the few guys who’d been day scholars at school found it harder going. Our Course slid easily into the work and play ethic of the College. Most of us were keen sportsmen and somehow over a weekend we fitted some great parties in between playing sports. I remember during winter term longing for lectures on a Monday morning, having played Rugby for Gwebi on Saturday afternoon, followed by a post match party at some farmers’ club out in the boondocks which often involved playing Bok-Bok, Dead Ants, Boat Races and other traditional bar room entertainment. We’d then weave our way back to Gwebi in the small hours of Sunday morning and after a few hours sleep I’d drag myself out of bed to play Hockey for the College that morning at some club like Postal’s or the Central African Airways club out at Salisbury Airport, and then get dropped off at Salisbury Sports Club by two o’clock to play more Rugby for Gwebi in the afternoon, this time in the Under-20 League. To me that Lecture Hall started to look like a rehabilitation centre for rest and recuperation every Monday morning, but boy, did we love our weekends of sport. Challenging for me at the College were the new sports of Hockey and Squash which I had never played at school. It is no coincidence that the finer points of both these sports were taught to me by what I called the Peterhouse Gang of James Hamilton, Andrew Misdorp and Rob Smart. I suppose there must be some, but I have yet to meet a Peterhouse boy that wasn’t skilled on the hockey field or squash court.
Our group of young men over the following days, weeks, months and even years gradually evolved into that unique Gwebian character which also seems to have a sense of humour all of its own which is best described as farmyard humour. We all partied and drank together and even got into trouble together, sometimes having to answer to Stan, which was bad enough, but occasionally to the BSAP constabulary as well. We shared our experiences, parties, pocket money, beers, cars and motorbikes, and even girl friends on occasion, except for Pete Drummond of course, and formed lifelong friendships which survive to this day.
Our two years went by in a flash and it wasn’t long before we were attending graduation day and then it was off into the wide world to learn something more at the University of Life. My first job after Gwebi was with Herbert Newmarch on Carrick Creagh Farm on the outskirts of Salisbury in Borrowdale. This farm was a truly mixed farm growing Burley tobacco, maize and onions, and a large piggery, beef cattle and a small dairy herd. Also on the farm, Herbert’s oldest son Roger had gone into raising Chinchillas and flowers. Andrew, the younger son, also C16, set off on his slow walk-about around the world and when he returned a year later, I left and headed for England but not before Dave Eastwood and I attended an AI Course with Obe Veldman in Borrowdale, hoping that it might help us get work of an agricultural nature in the UK.
Arriving in England I gravitated towards Earls Court in London where I shared a flat with Dave for a couple of months. I made London my base and stayed there, on and off, for the next two years, meeting scores of Rhodesians at the ‘The Duke of Richmond’, ‘The Prince of Teck’ and ‘The Zambesi’, many of whom had been to Gwebi at some stage and this made for some very festive interludes between work. Although I did work on several farms as a temporary relief worker, filling in for permanent staff who were going off on their annual holiday, I soon realised that the real money lay in steel erection but particularly working on the oil rigs in the North Sea and West Africa, and thereafter, along with Marty, C17, this is where I spent much of my work time. These well paid oil rig jobs funded great skiing holidays in Austria and hitch-hiking travels all through Europe but also my working holiday to Israel, where for six months I immersed myself in the kibbutz communal farming system, and then to a large Hereford cattle ranch near Bismarck, North Dakota, USA, where I often spent twelve hours a day in the saddle. The icy winds of winter blowing in from the Canadian prairies soon chased this thin-blooded African down to the much warmer southern states of America.
Like all the other Gwebians overseas we came to the realisation that, as enjoyable as it was, we couldn’t continue with this nomadic lifestyle indefinitely. We needed to get back to Rhodesia and start building a farming career for ourselves, and besides, there was a low intensity bush war starting up in our country. Another pressing problem was, now that Mary had qualified as a nurse at Salisbury Central Hospital, I was stretching her patience to the limit with my meanderings around the northern hemisphere. Once back in Rhodesia and armed with a Diploma I had no problem in getting employment with the Department of Research and Specialist Services at Salisbury Research Station. It was a job that required no initiative and had no responsibilities or stress but had absolutely no prospects down the road. I spoke to a couple of equivalently qualified older guys who’d been there for ten or fifteen years and all they could look forward to was a pension on retirement, so not much future there.
I applied for and was lucky enough to be employed as a Field Inspector for the Rhodesia Cattle Co-op where I stayed for the next six years. Also employed by this company was Howard Duckworth who’d graduated with me from Gwebi. The RCC was a finance company which lent money to farmers to buy cattle using the cattle bought as the collateral for the loan. The company was the brainchild of David Smith who went on to become Minister of Agriculture, Finance and also Deputy Prime Minister in the RF Government, and it was a hugely successful scheme. My job entailed inspecting farms and their facilities, including the farmers, for their suitability for the finance that we offered and I drove all over the country in this regard. I learned a huge amount about cattle, their management and the financial aspects of the cattle industry.
During this time Mary and I married in Salisbury and we decided that we should attempt to go ranching on our own but the big problem was how to raise the funds to buy a ranch? Fortunately the Government was anxious, probably for security reasons, to put young farmers into those huge tracts of empty Rhodesian bush where no one lived and they advertised several blocks of ranching land to be taken up on a lease from Government. This State Land scheme, known as Crown Land in the early days after the Second World War, was an effective way of getting under-capitalised young farmers on to the land whereby after a fixed period, the rent which had been paid for the lease of the land, became the purchase price and the lessee was given the title deeds and then became the owner. We were successful in being allocated 21,000 acres in the Karoi South ICA which we called Sikati Ranch but which the farmers in the area called the Tengwe Badlands. For the next six years, in between Army call-ups, we developed this ranch until we had built up the infrastructure for our 2000 head of cattle and also grew a crop of Burley tobacco and maize.
During the early seventies the bush war had started to escalate, call-ups increased, and I realised that I needed to be in the company of like-minded men who were enthusiastic about fighting the war with a hundred per cent commitment. I searched around for a military group that would give me this and eventually found a small territorial unit called Tracker Combat Unit (TCU) which at the time consisted of no more than fifty men. I applied to join this unit, which had originally been started by Allan Savory, and it emphasised survival and bushcraft and whose role was tracking terrorists. It had a tough selection course on the shores of Lake Kariba, which fortunately I passed, and my call-ups were always with three other members of a tracking team, posted to various JOCs around the country, waiting to be called out to follow up the spoor of terrorists who had initiated roadside ambushes, farm homestead attacks or laid landmines in rural areas. TCU was disbanded in 1973 but we were immediately offered the option of doing another selection course to gain entry with a brand new unit called Selous Scouts. I took up this option, was accepted and after some time was commissioned as an officer, along with Jim Meikle, another Gwebian. I remained with this Unit until we were disbanded at Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
After Zimbabwe’s independence, like almost every other white farmer in Rhodesia, we lost our land as the new regime began removing us off our farms, sometimes one by one, but mostly in large swathes of European farming areas as in the violent land invasions after 2000. Our own eviction, which was not violent in any way and much earlier on than most of the other farmers, had an ironic twist in that not only were we evicted by a white man called Graham Mullett, but that he had been C19 at Gwebi. As he explained to me, his company, Redfern and Mullett, had been given the contract by the new Ministry of Lands, to identify the farms and ranches to be taken, but also to make a list of all the fixed assets on those properties and then inform the farmers that if they removed any of those assets when they were forced to move off they would face prosecution. Needless to say, I didn’t take it lying down, I used every avenue that I could to resist our eviction, but the end result was the same and I came to the realisation that there was no future for white farmers, particularly of our generation, in the new Zimbabwe. However, I was philosophical about the loss of our land back then, and remain so to this day. We fought them, we lost, and now they make the rules. We needed to move on.
So move we did, Mary and our three children, to Livingstone, Zambia on the banks of the Zambezi. Here we involved ourselves in various tourism ventures such as canoeing safaris above the Falls, white-water rafting below the Falls, a lodge thirty kilometres upstream and a booking office in Livingstone. By now our children, Bryan, Gareth and Julie-Ann were teenagers and they continued with their schooling in Bulawayo as boarders but loved coming back to this great river which gave us a living for the next twenty-five years.
We’ve retired now from the tourist industry and keep ourselves busy with chickens, strawberries and upgrading a small herd of Boer Goats. Our children have all flown the nest and are living in Bulawayo, Brisbane and Berlin and between them have given us ten wonderful grandchildren who, for the most part, don’t sound like Rhodesians any longer or even know that it once existed as a country.
Anthony L. Marillier, "Tony".
I was born in Sinoia in 1945, and grew up on the farm Magog which belonged to my father. My mum taught me and my older sister until I was nine, then sent me to boarding school. First St. Michael’s, then Hartmann House, then to St. George’s. I never did very well at school, either in class or at sport, but struggled through until I became a victim of the Prefect of Studies, The Right Reverend Fr. Carty, who decided that my Cambridge School Certificate results were right on the edge and I may be better off elsewhere. I then spent a year at Sinoia High School, as a day scholar, and for the first time ever, enjoyed school. I managed to achieve high enough marks or passes to get into Gwebi, which had been my goal for ages.
Gwebi, as a member of C16, was the best and most educational time of my life. Not only did I learn lots (could have done a lot better), but made lifelong friends. What I learnt there has stood me in good stead ever since. After Gwebi it was nine months in the Army, then what I had waited for all my life - back to the farm. I worked with my Dad for seven years, then bought the farm the same year I got married to Lorraine Field, a farmer’s daughter from Tengwe. We had two boys, Scott, now here in New Zealand, working as a crop and field technician (chemical and fertilizer salesman!) and Patrick, flying for Air Emirates as a Captain.
After the long years of war in Rhodesia, independence came and with it Mugabe and his cronies. Enough said! We had good years of relatively peaceful farming after that. On the farm I grew tobacco, maize, wheat and groundnuts, but my passion was the cattle. I had built up a herd from my Dad’s predominantly Afrikander herd, and crossed it by AI with Charolais. The first year was a disaster - I spent more time pulling out enormous calves than farming. The bull we used, Uranium, probably killed more cows than he ever bred calves! After that lesson, we used other bulls with smaller calves, and that was my herd until we stopped farming due to the land invasions. I had previously found strong underground water on the farm, so had several boreholes and a good bit of irrigation, for both the tobacco and wheat.
In 2002 the land grab started. We were on the first lists of designation, then the squatters came, and the trouble began. After the many hassles, which were no different from what everyone else experienced, there was a particularly violent skirmish with these blokes on the next door farm. The result of which saw 21 of us spend the next few weeks as guests of the Zimbabwe Government. Suffice to say the accommodation was not of the best, a prison designed for 120 now holding 350 inmates. Still, the sadza was good and plentiful, as was the muriwo. After the government released us without charging us, we couldn’t go back to the farm to live because the so called warvets had moved onto our properties, so I bought a business with my ex-next-door-neighbour doing roofs and selling timber. Gwebi again. Thank you Ted Bircher. By dredging my memory, and referring to my notes, I managed to bluff my way through enough designs to keep us afloat. To my knowledge, none have yet fallen down, but that was some time ago. We branched out into making burglar bars and security doors, I had brought in several of my guys from the farm who were either drivers or in the workshop, so it was a good set up.
My wife and Scott wanted to look at the possibility of settling in New Zealand, and then decided to stay and make a life here. After two more years, I packed up what I could and moved there too. I had several jobs - the first was thinning fruit, but after a few days the boss said I was not getting paid because I was on probation so I politely left. I got a job next as a welder at an engineering company. Thank you Bob Dimond! This was nearly a disaster - I was looking for the welders, then asked, and after some strange looks, was pointed to these big machines attached to gas cylinders. It took a bit of getting round but I learnt quickly that these were Mig welders, not arc, which no one used anymore! That job, which was temporary, and was only for 6 months and when Colin heard what I was doing, he couldn’t believe it because he said there was only one worse welder at Gwebi than him, and that was me. I then had a small one man business cutting firewood, mainly gum, but couldn’t really make enough in a day and deliver miles away to make a living. I got extremely fit and extremely broke so I sold up.
In 2015 I went with George Hodgson to South America, firstly to Columbia, then Ecuador, looking for gold. The elections were coming up in that part of South America, and getting a licence was impossible. However, we got the dredging machine up and running, then my visa expired, so after three months I came back. George, typically, bashed his way through the red tape either by smooth talking, or if that didn’t work, by the familiar Hodgson bulldozer technique which I think the locals found terrifying. I believe he has since sold the machine to a local, and now has other interests!
I had been working on a farm doing the general repairs and maintenance. The tractor was an old Fiat, the same as the one I had on Magog, and cattle are cattle, wherever you go, so I was happy there. At this time my wife and I separated, so I lived on the farm. I was there for seven years and in that time I met a lovely lady named Kath, who lived in Napier, an hour’s drive away. In 2016 she was diagnosed with cancer so I left the farm job and moved in permanently to be nearer to her. Sadly, she lost the battle and passed away in 2018. I have started back working again, doing handyman jobs that builders and others don’t want to do, and have lots of work.
I think the friends we made and what we learnt at College were two of the most important influences that probably changed our lives more than anything else.
Colin added some observations as has known Tony for more than sixty years ...
‘For those of you that never kept up with Tony after Gwebi, his story is that he was one of the leading farmers in his district – he worked on a cash basis and never owed a cent to either the Agricultural Finance Corporation (The Land Bank) or any of the commercial banks. He grew beautiful crops of Tobacco, Maize, Wheat and Groundnuts consistently year after year. His Afrikander x Charolais herd was outstanding as was his Brahman x Charolais crosses which he later moved onto. His wife, Lorraine, was heavily involved through the CFU, in the national battle against AIDS among farm workers and, as a qualified nurse, ran a well attended medical clinic from their farm, not just for their own workers, but also for all the workers on the neighbouring farms.
‘That is all gone now. Their farm, Magog, doesn’t produce a damn thing at present that’s worth writing about. Tony went to jail, along with twenty other farmers in the Sinoia area, for going to the aid of a beleaguered neighbour who was surrounded by aggressive warvets and when he was eventually released his farm had been stolen. Tony’s story, of course, is not unique. Many Rhodesian farmers have been through the same traumatic experience with variations, and this man-made disaster has been repeated thousands of times amongst people we all knew in our country.’
Emlyn R. Meier.
After Gwebi and the army, I worked on a tea estate near Chipinga for three years, next door to Dave Scott (C15). I joined the Chipinga Club where I learned to play and enjoy Polocrosse. The company then moved me to Munenga Farm near Salisbury in the Enterprise farming area where I played Rugby for the Enterprise Farmers’ Club and Polocrosse for Borrowdale Club just up the road. We grew tobacco and maize there and also ran a big dairy. I married Merrill in 1971 and had two sons, Brett and Hal.
We moved to South Africa in 1979 and managed a cattle and pig farm near Koster and Rustenburg for four years. We then worked for Gary Player for a year; this was not a great success.
I then started the process of becoming an open cast coal miner initially near Kriel and then near Witbank for 18 years. Initially I was just in charge of the reclamation, i.e. removing the topsoil before mining and then levelling the spoil piles and replacing the topsoil and growing pastures and beef cattle. I found it interesting and challenging and at one stage managed a herd of 600 Bonsmara cattle on 1200ha, and also a game camp.
Gradually the farming side was handed over to local farmers and I got more involved in the earth moving, and ended up overseeing the Draglines, and pre-strip machines, moving 3.5 million bank cubic metres a month, as well as doing the basic reclamation.
We retired from the mine in 2002 and now live in Langebaan. Merrill still does her pottery with a bit of help from me, and I work part time for a local environmental/landscaping company, and fish when I can.
Both our sons are married with kids and live near Auckland, New Zealand.
Andrew Henry Misdorp. Deceased
Andrew "Dorp" was born in Salisbury and was brought up on the family farm 'Showers' in the farming area of Theydon, between Marandellas and Macheke. He attended Ruzawi and Peterhouse Schools after which he worked for Roy Smart on Lesbury Estates in the Rusape farming area. After this practical farming experience he then applied to enrol at Gwebi.
Andrew and his zebra striped Land Rover were well known around Salisbury for the two years while he attended Gwebi and it probably wasn't a good idea to have such a unique colour scheme considering the mischief he and the Peterhouse Gang got up to in this vehicle. Andrew represented the College in Squash. After graduating he then returned to Lesbury Estates whilst Rob Smart went off overseas to Europe and Canada.
In 1971 Andrew married Sheila Moubray, daughter of Jim and granddaughter of the prominent pioneer of Chipoli, Captain J.M. Moubray. Together Andrew and Sheila had two sons Frans and Carl.
Andrew recollects that during the war, having sold the family farm at Theydon, he worked for Tilden Edridge, a well-known farming personality in Ruzawi who developed the Tilita Clip used in securing the tobacco leaf during curing. They churned out thousands and thousands of these clips from the factory on the farm in the Marandellas area. Due to the security situation the factory and homestead, where Andrew and his family lived, were guarded and fenced. One afternoon a suspicious looking character tried to gain access through the gate into the secure area and Andrew politely interviewed him. The conversation that followed, which was not confrontational, never-the-less set alarm bells off in Andrew's head and he immediately sent his wife and two small boys off the farm and into town.
Sure enough, the farm was attacked that night by a group of terrorists and the suspicious character had obviously been sent by the gang to recce the layout of their target. Andrew's bedroom was raked with AK fire from the window and the boys' cots, fortunately now empty, also sustained bullet holes. Andrew had, some years before, lost one of his legs below the knee in a vehicle accident and he was again wounded in what was left of that leg. His artificial leg was next to his bed and this too took a few bullets causing Andrew to comment, 'You know, there's something about that leg that attracts bad luck!' Andrew put his intuition of the impending attack down to his hunting instinct, honed over many hours of hunting big game in the Zambezi Valley.
This incident, which so easily could have been a disaster for the Misdorps, was the tipping point, and Andrew and his family moved to Paraguay in South America where they worked within a Mennonite Community. Tony Taberer of Tabex, who Andrew had dealings with previously, had asked Andrew to look into the possibility of growing a Rhodesian type of tobacco in South America. Due to the economic stability enjoyed by Zimbabwe for the twenty years following independence Tabex never followed through on this project.
Moving to South America proved very challenging for the family but they persevered and they have come to understand the language, culture and the ethos of the people that live there. Andrew has since separated and divorced from Sheila and is now married to Peggy Fairhurst who is Argentinean.
Andrew and Peggy live on a farm in Salta, Argentina which is in the foothills of the Andes. Here he has built a huge thatched house reminiscent of a luxury lodge on the banks of the Zambezi and is the cause of much discussion in their area. The reason for this head shaking and clucking by the locals is that nearly all houses are roofed with tiles in that country and only the very poor would use grass as a roof. The locals put this weird design and strange building practice down to him being 'South African' but I suspect that Andrew rather revels in his eccentric reputation.
Andrew has nicotine in his blood and has involved himself with all facets of tobacco production in South America, from growing the weed to the manufacturing of cigarettes and everything in between, but now describes himself as a tobacco trader, often buying the leaf from out growers and then selling it on. Over the last few years Andrew, along with his son Carl, have been buying Zambian tobacco, ironically most of it grown by ex-Zimbabwean farmers, and exporting it to Brazil for blending into their cigarettes. Peggy, for her part, runs her own English school but is gradually handing over the management to her daughters.
They both try to get back to Africa as often as possible as Peggy has fallen in love with Zimbabwe and its wildlife and Andrew, of course, cannot get it out of his system and they both particularly enjoy the Zambezi River. They also made a huge effort to attend the C16 Reunion in 2014.
Andrew was battling brain, lung and liver cancer and suffered several strokes. He required an operation to clear blockages in his circulatory system at the base of his skull. He survived the operation but it set him back and whilst he fought hard to regain his health he distressingly passed away on the morning of 9th October, 2020 in Argentina. This was a happy release for him and his friends said on learning of his death, “Now he’s free to roam the Zambezi Valley.”
Alan Mitchell. Deceased.
Pauline shares Alan’s experiences from Gwebi, ‘I was a mere girlfriend looking on at the antics of initiation from the side lines and I still have in my possession a newspaper cutting of some of you chaps outside the Palace cinema in your bonnets and placards being dosed by a second year in front a bemused crowd!
'After leaving Gwebi Alan joined the Department of Conservation and was stationed up in Mt Darwin for four years. Interested in bettering the lives of the peasant farmer and realising his bent was towards engineering (after all he did win the Stewart and Lloyds prize for practical engineering at Gwebi) he transferred to the newly formed Engineering Branch of Conex in 1969 (the year we were married). He spent a productive 11 years there, inventing, dreaming, altering and writing a few Papers. Whilst there he entered a few ploughing matches. He also took himself off to the Salisbury Polytechnic for two years to take a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering much to the amusement of the other scholars who labelled him "Granddad" (he was 29).
‘In 1980 he was persuaded to leave the Civil Service and head up the Research and Development Department at Tinto Industries. Again he was in his element developing a few machines for the commercial farmer. Tragically his life was cut short in 1998 coming home from a business trip to the Lowveld when an oncoming bus had a blow out and veered into his path.
‘We had a wonderful life together enjoying caravanning, sailing and fishing - our favourite spots being Nyanga and Mana Pools and of course the obligatory Kariba (before it was teaming with crocs!). We have three children and four grandchildren and they are now spread out between Australia and South Africa with little old me in England doing Care work, but I have ended up living in Benoni near Joburg in South Africa.’
David J. Moss, “Dave”.
On leaving Gwebi, I managed Sable Park Estates, owned by Stan Eastwood, father of John (Course 18). The farm was located on sand veldt in the Suri Suri near Hartley. Stan Eastwood served as vice President of the Rhodesian Tobacco Growers Association.
One thing that I think is well worth recording is that 'Tiddles' Heyns, 'Spider' Eastwood and I returned to Hartley together from Gwebi where we played for the Hartley 1st Team, Rugby. We were coached by Koos Brink who played in the Rhodesian Team that beat the 1947 All Black’s. Anyway, early in the season, we had a young guy, Piet Greyling, move from the Northern Transvaal into the area and he came and joined the club. He was very receptive to our advice which served him well for he was to play for Hartley 2nd, Hartley 1st , Mashonaland and Rhodesia - all in his first season! As they say in the classics, the rest is history! I was to meet up with Piet many years later in Gordon’s Bay and he remembered those years with much fondness.
Like all of us, I entered an agricultural economy under sanctions. So we looked to diversify our activities away from the traditional tobacco & maize. We dabbled with groundnuts, sunflower & soya beans. We also had a small herd of Santa Gertrudis based at Selous about 20 miles away. I worked for Stan for about 3 years before I realised that I was never going to make a fortune and purchase my own place. On weekends R & R met up with Ian Wright (course 18) and Nick Crofton. We all seemed to socialise in the same circle. We were all keen to go overseas, so hatched a plan to travel together.
We departed Salisbury by train for Umtali, where we caught the rail car for Beira and then boarded the Lloyd-Trestino Africa. Sailed from Beira, Lourenco Marques, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Walvis Bay, Tenerife and Barcelona where we disembarked. We spent a couple of days in Barcelona before catching a train and stopping over in Valencia, Grenada and Madrid. I separated from Nick & Ian who went onto Lisbon, whilst I went onto Paris & the UK.
I visited with family in southern England before going up London – at that stage I needed to start earning some money. On arrival London I registered with “Mayday” and was immediately offered a job vining peas up in Lincoln. Had a couple of jobs through “Mayday” and one that I quite enjoyed was grooming a string of Charolais at the beef & dairy show at Olympia. Around this time I was offered a job in Essex to help combining wheat, which was a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. Over this period Nick & Ian had got themselves set up in a flat in Earl’s Court where I joined them. We decided the beers at the Munchen Oktoberfest needed to be checked out, which we did. With Ian romantically involved, Nick & I continued onto Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam & back to the UK when we desperately needed to find another job.
A routine visit to the Zambezi Club in Earl’s Court solved our problems. Our salvation came in the form of James Gilleran. The story went something like this – James was visiting with family in Scotland (just over the English border) when the peace & quiet of the countryside was shattered by a diesel compressor and jack hammer. James engaged in conversation with the English road gang and ascertained that the job paid very well. To cut a long story short, following James’ visit to their HQ in Richmond he recruited his own team and about another 2 or 3 were to follow. Nick, Ian & I made up our own team and the work took us all over the UK making good money. The job entailed the refitting of cat’s eyes in resurfaced roads.
A summer of road work provided me with sufficient funds to spend some of the winter skiing. The snow, skiing & socializing was fantastic. Through a contact we rented our own chalet for month. 7 Rhodesians & South Africans drove to Austria in a Do mobile Van called “Numbies”. On the first night we visited the local “hot spot” to find it totally dead. A large recent tour had departed that morning, so there were just 7 of us, 5 guys & 2 gals sitting in a large Inn with a band with only two girls to dance with. Shortly after our arrival another two single females walked in and sat down at one of the tables. Both were Canadians, back packing & working their way around Europe. One of them, Lynn was to become my life partner. I am convinced that she was so impressed with my skiing prowess that she decided that I just had to be her man!
Lynn returned to the UK with us in “Numbies "and we took up lodgings together. Whilst Lynn did various waitressing jobs in London and held the fort whilst Ian, Nick & I went back to our road contract work. Lynn & I planned to travel together – Canada, Japan, Singapore, Australia, NZ and then to return to UK overland via India which one could do in those days. It was not to be. On arrival in Canada (Peterborough) I could not obtain employment – could not be legally employed. Whilst Lynn & I had already discussed it, we decided to get married then I could obtain work legally. In the meantime (in retrospect selfishly) I took a month Greyhound trip around USA. Lynn & I decided to return to Rhodie, taking a honeymoon in Italy & Greece on the way.
Got back in ’71. Obtained employment at Farmer’s Co-op Stock feeds as the “pig rep” covering Mashonaland & Manicaland. After a while I was offered the position of nutritionist which I enjoyed with the company car and visiting clients. Through my folks I was introduced to Bob Carey (used to host the book review on RTV). Bob was the GM of Highfield Bag Company. He offered me a post as a commodity broker with Highfield Agencies and I was excited at the prospect of travel and bonus so accepted the post. Within the year Mozambique and Angola “fell”, severely reducing our activities. I was then offered an alternative position with Highfield Bag Company, in the bag manufacturing side. This was to lead to me being given the opportunity to travel to Austria to participate in the negotiations to purchase plant to manufacture polywoven bags.
Over this period our eldest daughter Sarah was born in 1974 and Kirsty in 1977, both in the Lady Chancellor in Salisbury.
Whilst I completed my initial military call-up duties in the Air Force, when the “Hondo” first started, they did not call us up, so I applied for a transfer to PATU and was accepted. Also did time in PATU HQ – this entailed a lot of radio relay & OP work. With about three years near the end, Police Air Wing was looking for observer/gunners, but they were looking for guys who had had some experience on the ground, so another “career” move. Must say I quite enjoyed this period as I had always enjoyed flying.
Whilst in PATU I did a stint as part of the “Reaction Stick”. We were based at the police hostels, from where we would conduct sundown and sunrise sweeps of the Arcturus and Enterprise roads. On one occasion there had been an ambush on the Arcturus Road and we were tasked to meet up with and provide support to a Crusader tracker at first light. On arrival at the ambush site, we met up with the Tracker and it turned out to be none other than Emlyn Meier. We followed spoor across the farmland from the Arcturus to the Shamva roads where we found the place where they had parked their car. It was Emlyn’s assessment they had driven back into the Chinamora TTL.
Forex was approved for the polytape plant, but it was specific to the manufacture of coated bags for the packing of asbestos in Shabani, which meant we had to relocate to Bulawayo. We were not happy there. Whilst taking Christmas leave in South Africa, we were travelling down to Cape Town to celebrate the festive season with my folks who had retired there. Our journey took us through Port Elizabeth where we met up with Tony Mote (ex Pig Industry Board). Unbeknown to me Tony Mote had organised an appointment for me with Meadow Feeds (a large national stock feed company). We accepted their job offer and left Zim in April 1982.
We decided to leave Zim on the grounds that we were not happy in Bulawayo and that with Sarah and Kirsty we had serious concerns about education, health and security. We spent about 3 years in the Eastern Cape where life was good to us. Joined as Sales Manager and was later appointed Operations Manager responsible for the Mills in East London and Port Elizabeth. The promotion required a move to East London, we’d only been there about 3 months when I was appointed a Director of Tiger Foods East Cape – this was great as it gave us access to a housing subsidy.
Shortly after arriving in East London it was great to meet up with Dave “Westplank” Eastwood who was based there at the time. Interestingly I served my pre Gwebi training working for Dave’s dad Jimmy on Cigaro – the farm where Andy Newmarch, I think, spent some of his youth.
Every year, Meadow used to sponsor a national pig day in Welkom. At my last one, which must have been in about 1985 I met up with James Hamilton and Emlyn Meir. I have not seen them since.
We had been in East London a year when I was asked to close down and dismantle the mill in East London, and then we headed back to Port Elizabeth. We were back in PE for about 6 months when I was asked to close down that Mill as well. 1984 – 87 was a period of serious rationalisation in the animal feeds industry, which saw all the big players engaging in trade-offs in territory.
We were happy to be transferred to Paarl to a new mill with a 30,000 ton/month capacity. I was to take up the post of Raw Material procurement where I was to replace a guy who was on his way to Aus. Nice thing was that my folks had retired to Cape Town – 60 kms away. I never got to take up the raw material post – Aus took their time in issuing papers so the position was not vacated for some months, so Meadow offered me a “temporary” position to start up their health and safety programme. This was to become permanent – was never happy in the job, but at 42 years of age and no Afrikaans I had to stick it out.
“Salvation” was to arrive through a PRAW (Police Reserve Air Wing) mate who indentified me as a potential candidate to start up a woven Polypropylene Plant in Cape Town. It was an opportunity that I could not refuse. Two trips to Taiwan to purchase equipment, supervising the construction of the factory, installation and commissioning of the plant. There were 3 of us involved – the guy who put up the capital, the guy who was to do the sales and marketing and me. During commissioning the sales/marketing guy and I had a fall out and I quit. After sitting at home for about 6 weeks, my previous employer Meadow invited me back to establish and run their Quality Management programme, which I did until Globalisation arrived.
On being advised that my position was being made redundant (1998), I was offered the opportunity to form my own company and become a contractor to Meadow to service and maintain the silos and bins. And the rest is history, as they say. We have expanded the business and now service the animal feeds, flour milling, bakery and cement industries. Whilst we are based in Paarl, we have a branch in Port Elizabeth and I employ 17 permanent staff. As we have some specialised equipment in our armoury, we travel the country to sort out bridging problems.
Our two daughters Sarah & Kirsty finished their education at Rhenish Girl’s School in Stellenbosch. God only knows how the survived their school years. In all our moving they attended 8 different schools. Sarah (38) lives in London where she is employed by Tara Bernard in Interior design. Sarah went through a really bad patch being made redundant in about 3 jobs as a result of the recession. Touch wood, she has been re-employed by Tara Bernard and they are now nice and busy. Kirsty (36) also in London. Has been richly employed as a child minder and has recently looked to expand her talents by taking courses in tattooing (Beauty & medical). On leaving school Kirsty did a health & beauty course, then went Canada for about 3 years and whilst there did a course in make-up and special effects for theatre & film. Kirsty’s goal is to increase her skills in tattooing to include tattoo removal and ultimately medical cosmetics where they can “hide” scars with tattooing. She currently does lips, eyebrows and lips after hours, whilst child minding during the week.
In the time we have been in the Cape we have been blessed with visits from “Dorp” & Shelia (before they were divorced), “Spider” Westplank, who was visiting his Mum and sister Merridy and “Shorlto-Douglas” & Mary. Colin has subsequently been back on his own to attend Ron Reid-Daly’s memorial service at the Kelvin Grove. “4 pipes” also sneaked into the Cape to have a few stents inserted into his toobes. Had about an hour within him in hospital – didn’t recognise him immediately, but that laugh of his was unmistakeable.
Incredibly, Lynn is still living with me. We try to travel whenever finance allows, but would love to win the lottery “big time” just so we could catch up with all our old friends again. Our biggest regret is that the circumstances have caused us to “bombshell” all over the world and to lose touch with each other.
We had a terrible fright early in 2009 when we learned that Lynn was suffering with breast cancer. Following the initial shock, events rolled out at a fairly rapid rate. Within weeks she was in hospital had a breast removed, followed with an immediate reconstruction. Post Op treatment with chemo and radiation followed, and we are happy to advise that all subsequent tests have been negative. Having gone through the experience, the one thing I have learned from Lynn is that one remains positive. Allow it to get the better of you, it will take you out. Lynn now tries to support as many sufferers as possible. I must say that with all the political crap we have here, our private health care is good.
I've been a member of Rotary International for about 26 years, thoroughly enjoy it. Keeps us out of trouble and gives us the opportunity to put something back – obviously South Africa is just one big “black hole”, no pun intended.
Andrew A.H. Newmarch.
My Grandfather, Thomas Henry Newmarch, owned Glenara Estates, which is on the road to Mazoe and close to present day Harare, and this is where I was born in 1946. Later on we moved to Sigaro (bought from Dave Eastwood’s family) which is next door to Gwebi College and then to Carrick Creagh Farm in 1949 where I have lived ever since. I attended Highlands School with Pete Drummond, Hilton College in Natal and then finished off my schooling at Mount Pleasant along with Rob Beaton and Greg Tams. After graduating from Gwebi I set off around the world, hitchhiking most of the way, and then returned to run the family farm in Borrowdale. I fulfilled my military commitment during the war as an officer in the Rhodesian Intelligence Corps. I married Lynne Trickey in 1977 and we have two children, Pamela who is 30 and is a Chartered Accountant with Rio Iron Ore in Perth, Australia. She is married to Gerard King, an Aussie in Nov 2013. Lynne and Andrew had an enjoyable stay with them in early 2019. Our son Nigel is 29, was Operations Manager of Meikles Hotel. Prior to that he was two years at The Vic Falls Hotel and two years at Indigo Bay, Bazaruto Island. Nigel is also married and is currently the Manager of Hwange Safari Lodge and wants to stay in Africa.
Our Farm was invaded by the infamous Stalin Mau-Mau in May 2000. I was served with many Section 5’s and 8’s which are illegal as they are not supposed to apply to any property within the City limits and Carrick Creagh clearly fell within the boundaries of Harare City. The warvets then changed their tactics and in 2003 I received a Section 3 saying that they were seizing the farm for a housing project. In one of the many confrontations with these warvets I was stabbed with a spear, sustained many minor injuries and was beaten up four times and once fairly badly. The stress of this ongoing ordeal was the worst part of it all but I refused to go and stood my ground. They called me ‘Mr. Stubborn’ because I would not move and then gave me a date that they would kill me if I didn’t leave. After a protracted standoff they eventually took possession of my house and cottage and I was forced to move to the main house in 2003.
Today we still live on the farm in the main house and have been given new title deeds for our 5 acre plot on the side of a steep hill. To get my title deeds Government said I must first rent my property from them and then buy it from them and pay all transfer fees. I refused and so the new Government appointed developer paid it for me as long as I don’t interfere with their development. I still have the original title deeds but at the Deeds Office our deeds have now been stamped as State Land. Under the present Government the law is changed at will to suit them and what was previously illegal is now legitimate. They are building huge mansions on plots of 4 to 7 acres and smaller houses on plots down to half acre. There are 286 plots on 704 acres (285 hectares). Dr. Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is our neighbour of many years and bought our one small farm of 116 acres in 2006 for Zim $ but with rapid inflation, ironically fuelled by the self same Governor, we got very little in terms of US$ value by the time he paid us. This farm was subsequently invaded by warvets but never designated so Dr. Gono had them removed when he bought it and some very pissed off invaders were not impressed. We are supposed to be compensated for the intrinsic value of the land and improvements under Section 3 but Government claim that they have no money.
I retired in 2009 and have been fortunate that I have another source of income from an industrial building in town. Many companies are going into liquidation and unfortunately so have my tenants so now I have put the building up for sale but money is tight and the economy in a bad state. All in all things are not too good at the moment, but we will make a plan one way or another. Most peoples’ pensions are worthless and local shares are worth very little, even as low as one tenth of a cent. The developer has almost paid me for the cottage and says he will pay for my house by the end of this year. It is a fair price in US $ and much better than nothing.
I am kept busy in my retirement with repairs on our old house, making furniture and repairing vehicles. We’re members of Borrowdale Country Club and I organise some events for them. Rather than leave it for the warvets I took our security fence from our farm and put it around the club. I always seem to be busy and try to help some of the less fortunate whites, of whom there are many in Harare, in any way I can.
Robert J. Paterson, “Robbie”. Deceased
Robbie was born in Salisbury on the 30th September, 1945. He attended Dudley Hall Junior School at Norton and then Chaplin High School in Gwelo. In spite of some problems with his legs Robbie was a very good sportsman, had excellent eye/ball co-ordination, and attended the Rhodesian Nuffield Cricket trials whilst at school.
Robbie was instinctively an excellent farmer with a great feel for the soil and although a cropping man through and through, he surprised himself and won the Rhomil Shield for the Best All Round Student at Poultry Husbandry as well as being Runner-Up for the Wightman Cup for the Best Practical Student at Poultry Husbandry at the end of his First Year. Whilst at the College, Robbie was chosen to play Rugby for the Mashonaland Under-20 side. After graduating with C16 in 1966 Robbie did his nine months Army call up with them, the bulk of their time was spent on the border at Kariba.
His father, Rob Paterson, snr, along with his sister-in-law, Alastair Paterson’s mother, owned Coburn Estates in the Hartley farming area and it is here where Robbie and his four sisters Janet, Mary, Gail, and Joan along with his cousin Alastair (C15) and his sister Margaret and brother Douglas grew up. Coburn Estates was large, about 18,000 acres in extent, with many thousands of acres under the plough, most of it being irrigated from numerous boreholes. At one stage they had two tobacco sections, which they later closed down, and grew extensive acreages of both seed and commercial maize, cotton, wheat and soya beans. It was an extremely efficient and well run farming enterprise employing several white managers for the various sections and were the largest supplier of grain to the Hartley GMB.
Robbie married Margit Nupen in 1975 and their children are Sally, now married with four sons, and Robert. Margit, as a side line, started a chicken business in partnership with her sister which did very well. Margit, forever up to the challenge, obtained her Private Pilot’s Licence as well.
The initial plan was for Robbie to take over Coburn Estates when his father retired but Mr. Paterson, being the shrewd Scotsman that he was, could see the political writing on the wall after independence and Coburn Estates was sold in 1989 to ARDA, on a willing buyer, willing seller basis, long before the land invasions started. For a while Robbie and Margit farmed broilers on a farm called ‘The Hanger’, also near Chegutu, but in 1992 took the plunge and signed a 99 year lease on a property on the Zambezi close to Chirundu to do fish farming. This fairly substantial project, involving millions of fish and right on the banks of the river, was a clever idea of running the water by gravity at the top end of the farm into the ponds, and then back out again into the river at the bottom end, thus ensuring that the ponds always had fresh river water in them.
The Zambezi River Authority, who control the amount of water released into the river below Lake Kariba, suddenly and without warning, shut the gates completely for the first time ever, which resulted in no water being released downstream. This action caused the Zambezi to drop significantly below the level of the entry point canal and, with no water flowing into the ponds, over a million fish were lost. Sometime later the ZRA, again without warning, opened four gates together due to the Lake filling up rapidly behind the dam wall. This sudden rise in the level of the Zambezi below the wall flooded the fish farm and all the fish in the ponds were deposited into the river downstream. It became obvious to Robbie and Margit that this fish farming project could not be sustained with this sudden and unannounced surging in the levels of the river.
So back to ‘The Hanger’ they went which was a property they leased near Chegutu where they grew tomatoes under contract for H.J. Heinz Company, the owners of Olivine Industries, who canned tomatoes as one of their many products. This proved to be a successful and profitable venture but by now Robbie’s health was failing and sadly he passed away on the 1st May, 2008. Margit continued on her own but like almost every other Zimbabwean in the country, struggled on under severe economic conditions and political uncertainty but she persevered with tenacity and made a name for herself as a Consultant on Fresh Water Fish Farming. Margit passed away aged 68 in her sleep at Cahora Bassa on 19th March 2021 whilst working with the Heyns family on their kapenta fishing business.
John W. Perrott.
John was born in Selukwe on the 11th November, 1945 into a family of three sisters, two older and one younger.
He was schooled at Glendale Junior School then Dudley Hall and finally Prince Edward for his senior schooling. Joyce, the mother of his life-long school friend, Ian Brown, taught them at Glendale and Mrs. Arkell, rather surprisingly, taught them both ballet at school and then ballroom dancing at Glendale Club. These are facts that John never bandied around at Gwebi. John’s father died when he was fourteen and a half years old and the Browns took him under their wing during school holidays. Steve Brown, Ian’s father farming at Glendale, initiated John’s interest in farming and also Polocrosse.
On leaving senior school John made the decision to attend Gwebi and Mrs. Perrott applied to State Lottery to help pay for John’s Gwebi Course. John did his pre-College practical with Derek Johns on Machere and Blighty Farms in the Umvukwes farming area. It would seem that Derek’s twin daughters Vera, later to become Miss Rhodesia and Miss South Africa, and Sonia teased John unmercifully as a young man working for their father.
John thoroughly enjoyed everything about Gwebi, both the theoretical and practical side of farming and on Diploma Day was awarded the Romyn Cup and Pfizer Prize for Livestock Judging, as well as the joint winner of the Fertilizer Industry Prize for the Farm Project. John participated fully in all the sporting facilities on offer and he represented the College in every sport that he played.
On graduating John did his nine months at Llewellin Barracks and became a Sergeant, along with Pete Drummond and Ian Raynor. It was during his Army commitment that John met Sylvia at La Bohème at a Saturday lunch time session which was a popular meeting place for young Rhodesians.
After he had completed his Army, John worked on a cattle ranch at Mtorashanga for a year and then moved to Goromonzi to work for Noel Wingfield on Rochester Farm where he stayed for five years and during this time he married Sylvia. John did a short stint with Sam Levy before deciding, in 1975, to lease the 800 ha. Machere and Blighty farms from Derek Johns which was where he had done his pre-Gwebi training. He leased for five years before buying Machere farm in June in 1980. John started with tobacco, maize and cattle and then built the irrigation dam in 1981 which enabled him to do Granadillas and irrigated wheat and eventually Citrus in 1992.
By this time John and Sylvia had three children, Bignell, Angela and Jason. Tragically Bignell died in a vehicle accident in 1987.
By this stage, agriculture was becoming unstable in the country where rumblings on the political front were surfacing in the form of land invasions, firstly by threats and letters and then by physical violence by the so called war vets and squatters. In 2002 John was arrested by the Police and jailed at Mvurwi Police Station for occupying his own farm. When John was released, and unsafe for him to return to his farm, he and Sylvia made the decision in Harare to move to Nelspruit in South Africa where they were able to join members of their family who were already farming there. Here they stayed until 2004 when the pull of Zimbabwe proved to be too strong and they returned to Harare where John was able to find work as a citrus consultant in the Chegutu farming area and then in 2007 on the citrus orchards with Forrester Estate in Mvurwi, which is where he is working at this time.
Although John and Sylvia keep a home in Avondale, Harare, John spends much of time in Mvurwi and when there, all of his time in the orchards and packhouse during the picking and packing season for the export of this citrus overseas. They love nothing better than visiting their five grandchildren in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Michael M. Poffley, "Mike".
After leaving Gwebi I worked on a mixed tobacco, cattle and maize farm in the Centenary area. The job was great but the boss not so. Tossed a coin and it came up travel! In December 1967caught a boat in Durban and set sail to Sydney, Australia. After 3 weeks of drunken debauchery crawled off the boat in Sydney with my rucksack and $150 in my pocket.
Decided that Sydney was much too big for a country lad like me and headed for Brisbane. I got my first job as a jack hammer operator on a building site digging foundations for a skyscraper in the city. The pay was good and I enjoyed the opportunity to make my own daily managerial decisions, such as which end of the trench to start digging from. After 2 months with the bank balance looking a lot healthier I hitch-hiked to the Barossa Valley in South Australia, on the way staying with friends from the boat in Sydney and Canberra. In the Barossa Valley got a job in a winery, after another couple of months set off again this time via Melbourne to Sydney where I caught a boat to New Zealand.
This has to be the easiest place on the planet to hitch, very friendly hospitable people, most nights spent with people who had given me a lift. Did the whole two islands from top to bottom, east coast, west coast and through the centre. What a fantastic country for scenery, they have the lot - mountains, lakes, fjords, rainforest, desert, volcanoes, glaciers, beaches, valleys, geysers you name it, they have it, just about wore out my eyes taking it all in.
Back in Oz, almost broke, with winter setting in decided to head north to the tropics and give cane cutting a go. When I arrived in the cane area around Proserpine discovered that the cane cutting didn’t start for a couple of months. By now I was down to my last $5 so hitched a lift to Shute harbour where the boats come in from the Great Barrier Reef island holiday resorts to pick up and drop off tourists. Jumped on the first boat and told the captain that I was starting work at the resort. When I got there found the manager and asked for a job, as there were no trips back to the mainland that day and I had no cash I ended up washing dishes in the kitchen. Long story short ended up staying for a couple of months working as a barman. I had my own small cosy little bar with jukebox to run, where all the young things gathered. I opened at 10.00pm and closed up at 6.00am, best job I have ever had, worst pay, but got to meet a lot of girls, drink a lot of booze and got to go out to the reef several times, fantastic place.
After almost 3 months of hectic living managed to drag myself off to the outback to dry out. Got a job in the shearing sheds as a roustabout. The average Ozzie shearer speaks with a broad accent and uses a lot of slang and it took me a while to understand what they were saying. Bloody hard work but great guys. As the sheds were all dry and the nearest town was usually 100 km or more and no TV, we were forced to make our own entertainment at night. This usually took the form of telling yarns in the dining room. These guys were real professionals at spinning funny yarns and had me in fits of laughter. At one shed we were short a roustabout and this new guy arrived, would you believe, it was none other than our Dave Scott from Gwebes, small world!
I heard that they needed combine operators on the Ord river up Kununurra in the top of Western Australia so headed up north. On the way got a lift from a guy in the Territory Ag. Dept. Said that there was a vacancy for a Technical Officer in one of the sections, so gave Kununurra a miss and headed to Darwin. I got the job which entailed preparing trial plots at several sites across the Top End and planting out various pasture species, making monthly records on developments etc. What we were looking for was a suitable pasture for the coastal flood plains, something that could survive 3 months of being flooded and the rest of the year being bone dry. I got to see a lot of the coastal area and did quite a lot of flying out to some of the more remote trial areas. Talking about a small world, at one stage there were 6 Gwebi guys working in various sections of the Agriculture Department although none were from my year.
After a year I transferred to a Government experimental station about 200km south of Darwin where we were doing grazing trials on some of the more promising species of pastures on 3 different soil types on the Daly river. We had plenty of spare time which we spent fishing and hunting – buffalo, wild boars, ‘roos, duck, etc. While I was here I took 3 months off to visit Expo 70 in Japan, travelling there via Timor, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand & Hong Kong.
On my return met my soul mate, Sandra, who had just returned from a couple of years stint working and travelling in Europe. I had planned to head off to South America after I had replenished the bank balance and we decided to meet in Rio. Sandra had to get herself cashed up before she could leave so I set off via New Zealand to Fiji where I was going to work my passage across the Pacific on yachts. That was the plan but I got a bit stuck in Fiji visiting some of the more remote islands and living with the native Fijians in their villages, lovely friendly generous people. I spent most of my day either snorkelling and spear fishing on the coral reefs or exploring the island with some of the young bucks. I got stuck on one island for about 3 weeks waiting for a boat to get back to the main island. I got to thinking that I had better go back and fetch Sandra in case she changed her mind about Rio.
Back in Darwin I got a job truck driving making deliveries around town, on weekends I would deliver supplies to the drilling camps out in Arnhemland (they were exploring for uranium). I would head off Friday after work and return on Sunday, Sandra would come along and we would camp out on the road. In those days there was only a dirt track 300km or more out to the mining camps, no bridges and deep sand in some places. It usually took about 8 – 10 hours to get there fully loaded and about 6 hours back empty. This left us about a full day to explore the cliffs and valleys in Arnhemland . Today there is a bitumen road and it only takes 2 – 3 hours and everything is a sacred site so access is restricted as to where you can go.
In December 1971 I married Sandra and in January the next year we set off to the UK this time we decided to go via Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan across Russia on the Trans Siberian Railway, up through Finland into the arctic circle and Norway, then down the west coast of Norway into Sweden across Denmark and into the UK. The trip took us about 5 months hitch hiking most of the way and doing it on the cheap, our budget was $5/day between us for meals, accommodation and transport (not including air travel or the Siberian rail trip)
In London I was going to get a job driving busses and Sandra was going to be a clippie, but the problem was trying to find half decent accommodation before they could allocate a bus depot to work out of. Eventually we settled for a live in job as barman, barmaid in a fairly posh pub overlooking the Thames. We spent nearly a year in London taking in the sites on our days off and saving our money. Finally we had enough cash to buy a brand new Mini estate and some basic camping gear and did the continent and UK in style.
In October 1973 we caught the Edinburgh Castle to Cape Town. Once again with cash running low we headed off to Rhodesia. Back in Rhodesia they gave me a hard time saying I had to apply for a residence permit as I had taken out Australian Citizenship. While I was trying to sort this out I saw a job advertised in South Africa with my old boss from my schooldays in Wankie. I got the job it was in the Eastern Transvaal on the escarpment near Waterval Onder. I was crop section manager of a fairly large estate. We had irrigation from the Elands river so grew crops year round, maize, seed maize, soybeans, sorghum and Burley tobacco in summer and wheat and coriander in winter, we also had 40 acres of lucerne and a couple of thousand citrus trees, mainly Valencia oranges and some lemons grown for local as well as export markets. We were very happy there and did our breeding there both our daughters Carol and Kate were born in Nelspruit. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that the pay was not all that hot and we could not see ourselves getting anywhere fast. When Rhodesia went down the gurgle we decided that South Africa was next cab off the rank and decided to go back to Oz, the land of opportunity.
Arrived back in Oz in 1978 with a wife, two kids, six tea chests and $600 almost back to square one again. Sandra got a job as a teacher’s aide in a school and eventually, after a couple of years, they realised they had a gem on their hands and she ended up as the school bursar. I went back truck driving for a while, then got back into the Government Ag. Dept. as a labourer in the horticulture section. In those days the horticultural section was the poor relation in the department with only 4 people in it in the whole Territory. Soon after that horticulture took off in a big way with the development of rockmelon and mangoes. We started to do heaps of trials on what could grow and the industry expanded at a great rate. After a short time I became the horticulture extension officer for the Top End of the Territory. It was a great job I got to do a lot of travelling around the Territory. By the time I resigned from the department the horticulture section had expanded to a total of 35 people involved in fruit, vegetable and ornamental research and development.
While I was at it decided that we should get involved and we bought a 20 acre block 30 km south of Darwin. To make extra cash we started growing and grafting mangoes on weekends, we also planted the block up with 800 mangoes, 140 rambutans (related to litchis) about an acre of heliconias for cut flowers and set up shade houses and established a small nursery. We also dabbled in a couple of other crops in a small way such as purple mangosteens, durians, bamboo for the edible shoots and jackfruit to mention a few.
We eventually built a house and in 1993 moved onto the block. By 1999 the block needed full time attention so I retired and became a gentleman farmer, i.e. worked my butt off. I was as busy as the proverbial one legged man in the arse kicking competition. We made a comfortable living with all our various crops, but by 2009 decided we had had enough of the hot weather and hard work and sold the place. Nobody wanted to buy work so to sell it we had to subdivide the property into 5 acre blocks and pull out all the fruit trees.
We now reside in a town that rejoices in the name of Nambour on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland a mere 100km north of Brisbane which has a lovely mild climate. George Hodgson lives just up the road from us and we frequently have dinner together, small world again! We have a two and a half acre patch we call home with the house overlooking a dam and we spend hours sitting on the veranda watching the ducks and birds playing around the dam. We have joined the local garden club and are in the throes of trying to develop a small rainforest around the dam. I have joined the local woodies group who go by the exalted name of ‘The Blackall Range Wood Crafters Guild.’ They have a huge shed full of all the machinery necessary for making things out of wood, they also source local timber and have a slabbing mill and a kiln for drying the planks, so I have access to a wide range of different woods and they are cheap. I have my own “Man Cave” at home complete with a good range to machines for wood working, but my favourite is my lathe and I spend many hours turning perfectly good blocks of wood into sawdust.
Our eldest daughter, Carol, is married and living in Dubai and has provided us with two delightful grandsons. Kate now lives in Yeppoon about 500km north and is a computer program consultant with no immediate plans of matrimony.
Ian D. Raynor.
I was born in May 1944 to British stock. Dad had been shipped off to Southern Rhodesia to join the BSAP. My mother was born in Turkey so when her family planned to arrive in South Africa, they ended up in Southern Rhodesia instead. My father was granted a piece of Crown Land in 1946 by the Southern Rhodesian government under its war land settlement program. He resigned from the police as a Sergent and dedicated the rest of his life to Glenview Farm. The farm bordered the northern boundary of Golden Valley Mine, some 17 miles north of Gatooma.
My school years were spent at Sir John Kennedy School and Jameson High School in Gatooma. Any time I could, I would spend full weekends wandering through the bush. I found that simply observing the flora and fauna, which included building up a significant birds’ egg collection, a great education and wonderful therapy. I have very warm memories of those times, and often think of what a marvellous upbringing it was for a young person.
My sports of choice were cricket and, later in life, golf. I made close friends at high school, among whom I first met Rob Paterson at Chaplin. School friends who come to mind and who attended Gwebi are Graham Harnden, Alf Read, Jimmy Fitzroy, Nevil Eekhout, Gavin James (all of Jameson), Bucky Rowlands (Thornhill) and Dave Wrench (Plumtree). The final two years of my high school education were spent at Chaplin High School taking my “A Levels” with the intent of attending university to study geology. However, limited family finances prevented me from attending Perth University. Given my farm upbringing for the last twenty some years, I opted to attend Gwebi Agricultural College … Course 16, 1964/66.
This turned out to be the first most formidable and defining decision I made in my life. Apart from making a whole bunch of new friends at Gwebi, the practical education in agriculture that we received must be classed as one of the finest in the world. For reasons better explained by qualified academics, the Gwebi Agricultural College curriculum had a magic recipe which managed to hone young male individuals, some of us almost uncontrollable, into well respected specialists within the spheres of crop science and animal husbandry.
As all former Gwebians know, the college authorities stipulated that the year prior to attending the college itself, we were to work on a farm outside of the farming environment with which we were familiar. Since it was determined that I needed some experience in growing tobacco, I worked for Mungo Graham on a farm below the Great Dyke just south of Mtoroshanga. Mungo was brother-in-law to the Frazer-McKenzie brothers of Hereford fame in that area. Upon graduation, I, like most others in my year, was quickly swallowed up into the national army training net (Intake 83), the third intake required to undergo the nine-month course. Upon being released from army duties, I stepped into the wide world, and had to make that big decision on my future. Among the interviews I had, I was offered a position at the newly formed Botswana Agricultural College in Gaberone. I have to admit that the job intrigued me, and I have often wondered what I would be doing today if I had accepted. Staying closer to home, and within the drought-prone West Mashonaland area, I accepted a position with Mick Tanner as a farm manager of three hundred acres of cotton, together with the management of a harvesting company consisting of four Massey Ferguson combines. An eventful challenge for a young guy, especially considering that 1967/68 was one of the country’s driest seasons on record. My only time off that year was a single game of cricket and a visit to the World Ploughing Match in Norton, but the challenges were invigorating. Given the international sanctions of the day against our country, the ploughing match was a major coup for the government and the Rhodesian agricultural authorities of the time.
Around that time Dad’s health took a turn for the worse. In 1968, days prior to the next year’s rains, he offered me the position of manager and junior partner of Glenview Farm Pvt. Ltd. To make up for the previous year, the rains came early and it was a mad scramble to get the crops planted. The rains fell consistently and evenly, giving us about our average of 30 inches,where we had the time to keep the lands free of weeds and insects and nicely fertilized. For the Gatooma area, the maize and cotton yields were fantastic that year. What a start for the new guy on the block, but I was well aware it would not be that easy going forward.
Cropping Glenview wasn’t easy. Of its 1,900 acres about 900 were arable, of which 15% of the soils was considered Class 1. About 50% was Class 2 and the remainder Class 3, the latter of which required some special attention to make it reasonably productive. With only 1,000 acres of grazing land the farm did not really lend itself to livestock, apart from perhaps a dairy herd, which wasn’t something that any of the family really relished the thought of tackling. In hindsight, I think that this decision was perhaps a mistake.
In 1971 I met Heather McMaster who was to become the love of my life and soul companion. We were married in 1974. This was the second most formidable and defining decision I made. Bradley was born in 1976, and Heather also quickly became Glenview’s unpaid all-purpose administrator. This was an essential position on any Rhodesian farm, and most wives took on the role gallantly and willingly. We are now in our 44th year of marriage and still going!
Despite the inevitable testing seasons, in 1972 the Land Bank granted us full title of Glenview Farm. We had accomplished our obligations under the terms by which Dad had originally been granted the land. This was a great day, and excuse, to organize a party for friends and family! However, all too frequently severe droughts hit our region. After the 1969/70 season we were forced to review our business model. With a 50/50 agreement between my father and me, Glenview Boreholes was formed, this time financed by RhoBank, and we purchased a single percussion water boring machine. (In those days it was just not done to change your bank, but Dad and I often mused that our traditional bank, Standard Bank, was part of the sanctions effort against our country! The bank rarely seemed receptive to innovative ideas.) There being no surface water on Glenview, the plan was that we would find sufficient subsurface water to supplementary irrigate our seed crops. This was fine in theory as, half way through the first hole on Glenview, it was whisked away to its first contract, not to return to the farm for 18 months! To our delight, as well as our bank manager, two more machines were quickly added to the business. After the next few years we were able to supplementary irrigate about 650 acres, which dramatically improved our yields, and the resulting farm revenue. Needless to say, the borehole division was a resounding success.
During all these frenzied years of farm expansion and development, and like every other farmer my age, army service commitments in the terrorist bush war had to be fulfilled. Some new and very close friends developed through this work, regarded as essential to keep the country intact. In 1973, following two great seasons, we were paid an unexpected visit by our local MP Albert Mells and two cabinet ministers, one of whom was Jack Mussett. The government wanted to expropriate our farm to build a new strategically placed military airfield. The scramble was then on to find a place to plant the next year’s crop. However, the government was not flush with funds and was not agreeable to pay what we thought the farm was worth. This placed even more stress on Dad’s health, who the previous year had his one leg removed. Despite finding a willing seller (Trevor Rork, who ranched and irrigated crops from a nice-sized dam on Doreen’s Pride Ranch in the Battlefields area), our bank was working at a glacial pace, triggering the move of all our banking affairs to RhoBank. Even though the government could have forced the issue, the deal did not go through, and they eventually purchased a farm a few miles northwest of Hartley. The resulting failed transaction also placed unnecessary pressure on Trevor, whose lands we had to help prepare for his crop. Fortunately, we had a large land preparation unit to send over to his place.
When I arrived in 1968, Glenview had about 350 acres cleared for cropping. While initially it was entirely a commercial farm, by 1978 it was developed into a model seed farm of cotton, hybrid maize, soya beans, sorghum, wheat and barley. At its peak, prior to the transition from commercial to seed, the Glenview operation consisted of 500 acres of cotton, rotated with 500 acres of maize and soya beans … assisted through the lease of the next-door farm, Sunnybank. By that point, cotton was so widely grown throughout the district it put a huge strain on the available labour resources in the surrounding TTLs. It was a natural progression to wean ourselves off cotton production towards a more profitable and less labour-intensive business model. This was the chief catalyst which precipitated our move to seed crops only.
By Rhodesian standards, Glenview Farm was not a large enterprise, nor was it a magnificent looking farm like so many others throughout the country. However, what we did manage to do was to carve out a productive farming unit out of a very ordinary piece of land, with sufficient revenue to support two families and ninety permanent employees. Above all, it was our legacy at which we, as well as a number of our employees, could look back on as home. It’s a strange thing, you can always say that you own a piece of land but, after some years of nurture, the land owns you. After some time on the land, the bond and attachment make it very difficult to let go.
In 1979 it was becoming painfully obvious, no matter how optimistic one might be, that it was the end of the line for Rhodesia as we knew it. With the probable result that Mugabe would finagle himself towards the front of the line and inherit the spoils of the country and, knowing the man’s reputation as most of us did, the political outcome looked very bleak. Having put off an interview at the Canadian Embassy in Pretoria several times over a span of about two years, we finally succumbed to a request (more like a summons) for an interview with the Canadian officials in the first week of January, 1980. I agreed to the interview thinking that my company commander would not give me the time off during an army stint (which turned out to be my second last), when I gave the lame excuse that "I needed to finalize a business deal in South Africa” (not entirely a lie, but a true diplomatic way of hiding the truth … perhaps the British duplicitous traits were showing up in me!). Heather and I arrived at an agreement with the embassy. We said that we could not live in a country with a Mugabe government, and if he got into power we were out of there no matter what happens. The Canadian authorities were prepared to give us 30 days to make our final decision after the election announcement. In reality all we needed was 24 hours! Following the inevitable election result, our visa for Canada was valid until Nov 15, 1980. The mad scramble to get our affairs together, namely to find a manager to help out my parents and to get the crop planted, was enough pressure in itself. Most stressful, however, were the “chicken run” accusations we received from many people, including from some of our closest friends. Sadly, these comments were still very prevalent in 1980, even though the accusations first started in 1976 after Ian Smith was forced to make that fateful decision following his meeting with Vorster and Kissinger. Sensing that the future looked bad, Dad and Mum suggested we should sell the farm. I had no objection, after all I now had little say in the decision. Anyway, we could always take the farm off the market if things looked like the political situation was changing for the better. We listed the farm for sale just prior to the election, but for obvious reasons the market was not very active. However, by selling Glenview Boreholes, Heather and I were able to accumulate enough money to cover our air tickets, the paltry amount of U.S. dollars allowed each emigrant family, plus pay for the shipping of the container holding our “katundu".
Although it was a very, very sad day in our lives, emigrating to Canada was the third most formidable and defining decision of my life.
On 9th November, 1980, this Southern African farming hick landed in Edmonton, Alberta, accompanied by a pregnant wife and Bradley, our son of two-and-a-half years, clutching US$1,000.00, five Krugerands (no questions please on how those got to Canada!) and a Gwebi diploma. I was ready to set the world on fire! Many a new lesson was learned as we embarked on our new lives in our newly adopted country. I landed a job as a salesman with Elanco, the makers of the herbicide Treflan, or Trif as we knew it in Rhodesia. Elanco was the agricultural division of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical manufacturing giant out of Indianapolis, USA. At the age of 36 I found myself competing with newly-graduated university twenty-somethings on the Canadian prairie … very interesting. After a series of promotions, I ended up in the pharmaceutical division in middle management in the Canadian head office of Eli Lilly in Toronto.
Unfortunately, embarking on a new life doesn’t come without its unexpected challenges. In April 1982, in the time span of only 24 hours after the symptoms started, we lost Brad to cerebral meningitis. In an unfamiliar country, without family and friends for support, this was truly devastating. Fortuitously, the bond between Heather and me grew stronger. Charys was born in 1983 to join Curtis (born in Canada in 1981), and we had our proverbial “million-dollar family”. This was not without further incident, as in 1985 I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (aortic stenosis). Heart surgeons and cardiologists watched it very closely for 20 years, after which the faulty valve was with a porcine valve in October 2005.
Although the move to pharmaceuticals was a big career mistake, all the same, as a family we have done very well. After Lilly divested itself of Elanco and three subsequent mergers, many of my former peers are now comfortably retiring from the industry. However, after the acceptance of a termination package from the pharmaceutical division, I managed a start-up company, on behalf of a couple of Texas entrepreneurs, providing a revolutionary reverse distribution service for Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers. This was a great gig, and very enlightening. Unfortunately, this only lasted 10 years when the Texans were given an offer they couldn’t refuse, and the company was sold to a Chicago outfit. Following another package, open-heart surgery and obtaining a real estate licence, I took on a job as a condominium property manager with the intention of lasting maybe 3-5 years. Ten years later I finally retired in November 2017.
Except for the ten-year stint with the Texans, my career in Canada had been immersed in the corporate world, where I found entrepreneurial opportunities lacking. In the meantime, when the kids had reached their mid-teens, Heather overcame her impatience by going back to school. Before she had completed her computer networking course, she was hired by IBM in 1997. She is now in her twentieth year of employment with them and finding it difficult to retire. Heather has lasted longer than I did in any of the jobs I had!
Frankly, I never really enjoyed the corporate world, and it’s a wonder I stuck it out for so long. It’s time for something new. So, after we have moved into our new dream home in April 2018, I will earnestly write, what I affectionately refer to as, The Book.
Meanwhile our kids, of whom we are very proud, have excelled. From the age of three Curtis showed signs that he would be an engineer, and he graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Waterloo. Since graduation he has been working for Moog, a company for which he designs the electrical switches for any type of machine which roams the floors of oceans for minerals and oil. A fascinating job. He and his girlfriend do not show many signs of getting married, and even less so of producing any grandchildren! On the other hand, Charys, who seemed to be forever at Western University in London (Ontario), graduated at the age of 30 with her PhD as a cadaveric anatomist in kinesiology. Her hard work really paid off and, following three years in Augusta, Georgia, she is currently a Professor at Western, teaching anatomy to med students at the university's school of medicine. She and her husband Dave Martin, an ex-Brit, have been married several years now, and the second grandchild is on its way to join its sister, Tyler.
Our family, among many other thousands, has been caught up in the Rhodesian diaspora flung far and wide due to the tumultuous times unnecessarily exacerbated by the succession of inept British governments since 1923. The stiff upper lip and resolve, briefly displayed by the British during the WW2 years, never manifested itself while dealing with the Rhodesian question. While our family has been very fortunate, the succession of British governments and other international institutions cannot be absolved from the responsibility of causing so much chaos and misery within the southern African region. Having said that, I am reluctantly beginning to accept that the displacement of peoples from all over the world will become more prevalent over the immediate future, as the competition grows for people seeking “their place in the sun”. Nonetheless, our lives have certainly been eventful, challenging and largely exciting, for which we are thankful.
Thordan was brought up in Salisbury and attended Ellis Robins School in Mabelreign.
At Gwebi he was well known for being an extremely hard worker on the practical side and was always the first to finish his gwaza or piece work. He also represented the College at Hockey.
After Gwebi, Thordan worked in the Eastern Districts for Rhodesian Tea Estates but he lost his pension and all his savings due to the present government’s theft from banks and pension schemes. Instead of retiring, he has had to go back to work with various mechanical and industrial factories including J. Mann & Co.
Thordan, following in the footsteps of his father, has always been an enthusiast of Vintage Cars and has been a member of the Vintage and Classic Car Club of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe since he was a young man. He has refurbished, among others, several models of Morrises, Chevrolets and Fords and is recognised as a master craftsman, especially on upholstery. Thordan continues with his passion for upholstery on vintage cars but due to the severe economic constraints in Zimbabwe he now works on a smaller scale from home.
Thordan has two sons who both live in the UK and his present partner is Janet.
Robert B. Smart, “Rob”.
Like a lot of farmer’s sons, I went to Ruzawi then Peterhouse. It was at Ruzawi that I struck up a lifelong friendship with Rich Bedford and Andy Misdorp and it was these two who came to our aid, in no uncertain terms, when we were violently evicted last year.
Anyway back to history, in our pre Gwebi year Dorp joined me on Lesbury and we began to learn the more serious part of mixed farming. The actual going to College was no great shock to me as I had been to boarding schools all my life. I do remember the shocks and the enjoyable parts of our initiation. I remember it horrified me that my cousin Rich Harland who I hunted with and we were good friends had the cheek to make us all run after his hunting lamp to familiarize us with all the lands at night. The other thing that suddenly came into my life was the mingling with the fairer sex and being introduced to the “flesh pots” of Salisbury! You see, us farm boys did not have any opportunities for these pleasures as we went from boarding school and back to the farm. All our pleasures were farm life, hunting and fishing. Anyway with the help of the city boys and nature taking its course I seemed to catch up! I think we can all count ourselves very lucky in going to Gwebi in its heyday. Really, it sets you up for life. Most of us went on to national service and it was no problem being shouted at by RSMs etc. I did my national service in the Air Force at Thornhill. I think it was round about this time Pete Storey came for a season on Lesbury.
After completing my national service I headed overseas. I went down to Cape Town and got on a Union Castle ship to Southampton. There were four other Gwebi guys from C17 on board. Can’t for the life of me remember their names? We had eleven days of continuous party!! After doing the rounds of visiting family and checking out the Hereford studs in Herefordshire I stayed in London for a bit and met up with a lot of guys at Earls Court. At this time Rod Mundy was in London and had had another operation on his leg. I went to see him where he was recuperating and we made a plan to get him out of the home that he was in, to come on a piss-up. I remember vividly Jacko was there and helped me to get “The Chief” to the pub and get him back. He really enjoyed it being amongst Gwebi guys again and kept us amused with all the stories about student escapades over the years. We weren’t too quiet in getting him back and were shat on by the Matron. Sadly I think he only hung on for a year after that.
I then went on a hitchhiking tour round Europe with a few friends from Headlands and Macheke. Another haze filled trip of wine, women and song! I got a telegram to get back to UK asap. There was a message from Andy Miller, of Aberdeen Angus fame, at Rhodesia House to get over to Calgary in Alberta as one of his relatives wanted a young guy from Rhodesia to work on their ranch. I had been trying to make a plan to get into the ranching areas of Canada. It was the old story of who you know and not what you know. The flight was direct from Prestwick Airport to Calgary over the Pole. Luckily it was day time and clear, quite an experience to see all that white when I was only used to seeing bush.
I was met at the airport by a tall rangy looking character dressed in full western gear and sucking a cheroot. He came in the ranch truck which, to me, was huge. The only farm trucks I knew were Landy, Peugeot or Datsun. We drove west towards the Rockies. I met Andy Miller’s niece at High River and was told I was going to her father-in-law’s place at the foot hills of the Rockies just south of Banff. What a beautiful place, this was just like something out of the movies. Log cabins, corrals, horses and mombies. I was there to help this elderly couple to run their ranch. They were both very hands on and taught me a lot. They had a breeding herd of about 120 Herefords. They sold weaners and also some yearlings. On my first day my boss, Dave, took me to the nearest town to get me proper working cowboy gear. Everybody I met was amazed that I was white coming from Africa. When we got back to the ranch Dave showed me my issue horse and saddle. The horse was a huge Appaloosa tearing around the pen with six other horses. I asked Dave how the hell do I catch this penga bloody animal. He told me there was a rope on my saddle!! I was shit scared and didn’t know what to do next, so I told Dave where I come from we have natives to catch the horses. He just laughed and proceeded to teach me. I think he quite enjoyed teaching this green arsehole from Africa. He taught me a hell of a lot and many of his methods of rearing mombies I used when I got home to Lesbury.
In their summer, starting in May, we pushed our herd up into the Rockies for excellent grazing in the mountains. It was government land and the ranchers paid so much a head for the summer grazing. From May onwards I lived on that penga Appaloosa and we became friends. He was so well trained that I just had to sit on him and he found the mombies. My job was to try and keep tally of our herd and take salt blocks up into the mountains. I learned how to rope mombies and treat them for minor ailments. The bulls ran with the herd the whole time. One of the big problems I had was hunters and tourists. They scared the shit out of the mombies, and hunters, who were after Elk, Deer and Moose would shoot a steer if they had a chance. I was issued with a 30.06 and a .38 hand gun. One day when Dave was with me we found a camp-a-van parked right at a salt lick. He was so cross he said “Robert, these mother f…. are the scum of the earth.” He took out his .300 magnum and put two shots into the engine block and we rode off!
In September all the ranches got together and we brought all the mombies down out of the Rockies. We then divided them up according to brands. We did all the branding, dehorning and castrating of the calves before we took our mombies back to our ranches. With a team of twelve guys we managed to do these operations on 600 head a day. During summer we made a lot of hay which was for the winter feed. When winter came I was taught by the other ranch hands how to ski and to skate. Our ski lifts were the horses that pulled us to the top of the gomo, and then they would follow us down. The ice rink was the small rivers and lakes. Chinook winds, which are warm winds off the Pacific, used to blow and all the snow was blown off the pastures which was great for the mombies. I made many good friends and quite a few came over here to see how we lived.
I came back home early 1969. Dorp was working for my Dad at the time. I asked Dorp what the girl situation was like and he said he had met a very vivacious good looking blonde. Old Dorp had a knack of sniffing them out!! He had not got her out to the farm yet, so I volunteered to collect her while Dorp had to stay on the farm because of curing. Well when I met Jenny at her flat door the chemistry kicked in and we have been together ever since. At the beginning Dorp had a bit of a problem because his girlfriend Sheila Moubray of Chipoli fame was returning from UK. Although Jenny was never an item with Dorp we knew the typical female jealousies would kick in and Dorp’s life would be hell. So I said to Dorp I was willing to help out and I would take Jenny over and tell Sheila she was my girlfriend. However I did insist it would cost Dorp a crate of Lion to help him out. He agreed. I never told Jenny this plan. About two years ago on one of Dorp’s trips out here we had a get together with the Bedfords. It was only then that we told Jenny about the crate of beer. Her reaction was that we were cheap bastards!
Jenny and I got married in 1970. I took her to the ranch in Alberta and we did the tourist route around Banff and met up with all the old friends. We had Tammy in 1976 and Darryn 1977. At this time the war had heated up in our part of the country. For us it all started up with cattle rustling, we were losing twenty to forty mombies a week. We hired vigilantes and after a few rustlers were shot the rustling stopped. We kept up our private army which consisted of all sorts - Vietnam vets, ex SAS poms, Canadians, weirdoes and druggies. I did my call-ups with the Air Force at Grand Reef and Jenny and the kids moved into a flat we had in Mutare. We had two attacks on the farm. The first was on my folks’ house but my old man fired back with his elephant gun and they gapped. The second was on our compound and they burnt our store. I was on call up both times. We surrounded our houses, barns and compound with claymores and homemade devices which were on trip switches. Apart from a few ambushes going to the lands we had no more attacks.
Lesbury Estates consisted of four farms measuring 16,000 acres. We had the two pure bred herds of Angus and Hereford. We also did some crossing with Brahmans which was a great success. We grew tobacco and maize. After 1980 we had branched out into paprika, chillies, herbs and spices. All these for export. We had an out grower scheme for the chillies and we had growers all over Manicaland. We also started up a transport business as in the 80’s and 90’s our district was humming and tobacco was on the increase. We were the main transporters for our area.
Then came the terrible years for us all. We had been warned by a friend of ours in about 1998 that the land grab was imminent. As far as government was concerned we were the worst offenders because we were multiple farm owners and were up against TTL. We managed to sell off two farms to government. The third was taken on the “fast track” system and the remaining home farm Lesbury was split up and we were left with 700ha of which 120ha is arable. We were lucky to sell the two farms thanks to our friend who was a member of the first cabinet and politburo. His family lived near us and my Dad had helped his parents. As a school boy he used to come and work here during the school holidays. This was all in the 60’s. I will never forget he pitched up in the customary black Benz in 1981, four gooks bustling with AKs got out of the car and then he got out striding forward hand out stretched in greeting. My Dad and I shat ourselves and thought what the hell now!! I went forward and took the outstretched hand with one eye on the gooks. He greeted me with all the affection of a long lost friend. He greeted my Dad with a lot of respect and we all sat down in the farm office and had a good chat. He did a lot of good for the new Zim and got on well with a lot of farmers. Unfortunately he was taken out like, so many were, who got on well with the whites.
After 2000 we had to sell off all our mombies and our trucking business closed down. The chilly business quit because we were not welcome in the TTL’s anymore except for our immediate neighbours. Over the past 15 years we have been growing tobacco, maize, potatoes and peas. It has been an endless battle to try and get an offer letter or permit for 700ha. In December 2014 Mugabe announced the land program was finished with no more offer letters or land being taken. We were told by our MP, Chief and DA we must stay and we had support letters from our local community. So it was a shock when in 2016 we were approached by a Bishop Trevor Manhanga and two others and we were presented with their offer letters, saying that our remaining 700 ha had been split up between the three of them. The offer letters were all fraudulent and the remaining 700ha had not been officially split up. Again we were told to stay by our community, MP, Chief and DA. The Bishop tried to put up a cabin but the reserve guys tore it down and beat up the Bishop’s men. The Bishop went to the cops and paid the Dispol to have us arrested. That night Darryn and I joined that elite club of farmers who have spent time in the government hotel! We found out the Bishop was good friends with our Manicaland Governor and were all under the influence of Grace (G40). The Bishop paid, using church funds, to have the riot squad evict us. Both families ended up in Marondera. I cannot describe the feeling we had when so many people came to our aid. As I said in the beginning my two old school friends were our pillars for survival.
The other faction of Zanu PF was trying to get us back onto the farm. All our workers and guys from the TTL went to the human rights people. Whenever the Bishop came to Rusape he was harassed and when he came down our road they threw stones at him. Two witch doctors and a spirit medium came to see us in Marondera. They told us nobody would sleep in our houses, and nobody did! Just before the so called coup we were told to go back to the farm. We had a lot of support from the Army who chased the armed thugs off the farm. During this time we had a lot of help from Pete Drummond and he brought us back to the farm and we had a huge welcoming back.
The only crop we could do was potatoes. With the help of a friend of ours we put in 5ha. These we lifted in winter this year and got quite a good return as there was a shortage. We have very little equipment left especially tobacco equipment as this had all been trashed or stolen. We have a few spray lines and pumps so we are going to do horticultural crops this summer. Our houses were completely empty and again people have been fantastic helping us making our houses liveable. The worst thing for us was the loss of all our memorabilia since when the old man started in 1930.
Since we have been back we have been inundated with journalists from all over the world, all wanting to hear our story. From these stories we have found a few potential investors and now finally the elections are over we can now get going. We have been offered land on all our old farms. The guys resettled there just want jobs and a bit of money for school fees.
Jon R. Smith.
I married Jenny Maitland from Umtali in 1970. We have two sons, Greig 38 and Marcus 26. Greig flew commercially for 10 years and then rejoined us in the family business, in Gaborone and Ghanzi. Marcus just completed his university and is in Australia. Neither are married yet. We left Rhodesia in 1975 and joined Cyril Huritz who used to own Komani Estates outside Marlborough, Bull Brand in RSA meat export etc. We ran a ranch of plus minus 270 000 hectares with 14000 breeding cows. We left Cyril Huritz a year after his death and started our own company, Feedmaster in 1991. We are sourcing weaners throughout Botswana for backgrounding on our farms on Ghanzi. That is before moving down to one of our 2 feedlots in Gaborone. We are the largest private suppliers of cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission.
Jon R. Smith.
I married Jenny Maitland from Umtali in 1970. We have two sons, Greig 38 and Marcus 26. Greig flew commercially for 10 years and then rejoined us in the family business, in Gaborone and Ghanzi. Marcus just completed his university and is in Australia. Neither are married yet. We left Rhodesia in 1975 and joined Cyril Huritz who used to own Komani Estates outside Marlborough, Bull Brand in RSA meat export etc. We ran a ranch of plus minus 270 000 hectares with 14000 breeding cows. We left Cyril Huritz a year after his death and started our own company, Feedmaster in 1991. We are sourcing weaners throughout Botswana for backgrounding on our farms on Ghanzi. That is before moving down to one of our 2 feedlots in Gaborone. We are the largest private suppliers of cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission.
Peter R. Storey.
I had done my National Service straight after school in early 1963, so after Gwebi I worked for Roy Smart in Rusape for a year and then travelled on a working holiday to Australia for 18 months, where I married Lydia.
We returned to Rhodesia in 1969 and managed for Sandy Firks on “Umsengesi” in Umvukwes until 1974 when we bought our own farm “Msorodoni” between Umvukwes and Concession. I was chairman of the Umvukwes Farmers’ Association, and on the RNFU. I transferred from Rhodesia Regiment to continue my military commitment with the Police Reserve 1972-74 and then PATU 1974-79. In 1977 I was asked to go to Iran for 3 weeks to do a feasibility study for a UK outfit to see if they could grow tobacco there.
By April 1979 I came to the conclusion that the situation would be untenable in the long term and walked off the farm with 4 suitcases, Rh$920 and went to Australia. Lydia did not want to leave. By this time we had 2 children: Vivienne born in 1969 & James born 1971.
I started in Sydney as a builder’s labourer, then a pest controller while studying at night for a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Admin. On the back of getting that in 1981 I got a supervisor’s job with Brambles Security and then in 1983 went to Linfox (big logistics company) where I spent the next eleven years, four of them in Melbourne, ending up as Group Operations Director for Australia and New Zealand. During this time I did a fair bit of international travel and also courses at University of Virginia and London Business School. From 1994 to 1997 I was MD of Patrick Corporation, mainly involved in port and rail activity. From 1997 to 2001 I lead the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service into Employment National Ltd. After this I retired from full time work and operated as a director of a few private and public companies until retiring fully in 2008.
When the kids finished school in 1987 Lydia went back to university, got a BA and then a Graduate Diploma in Audiology, working eventually in research - pretty technical stuff and had some papers published in international journals. She retired in 2006, but still gets asked to help with various projects.
We live on 4 acres (which we maintain ourselves), 10 minutes from the beach, in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Both our children, now in their early forties, are married, run their own businesses and live in nearby suburbs. We have 5 grandchildren (4 girls and a boy) ranging in age from 9 to 4.
We spend a lot of our winter remote camping and just love the outback and the desert country. Retirement is interesting and very busy - not sure how we ever found the time to go to work!
Such is life: we have been most fortunate.
Gregory Tams, “Greg”. Deceased.
Greg was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in the UK on the 21st October, 1946 and attended Bispham Endowed Church of England Primary School near Blackpool. Greg’s parents, Harold and Freda, along with his sister Jenny, emigrated to Southern Rhodesia in August 1953 as Harold had signed on to work in the country. Greg attended firstly Selborne Routledge Primary School, where he captained the Football Team, and then onto Mount Pleasant School in Salisbury. Greg enjoyed the outdoors and was a keen Boy Scout.
His sister Jenny by this time had married Robert Thomson of Chinyerere Farm just north of Karoi and Greg spent many of his holidays working on the farm. It was this experience that probably motivated Greg to go farming. On completing school he applied to attend Gwebi and did his year’s pre-Gwebi practical with Ralph Ray on the Miami road and was accepted into C16 at the College. Greg was an enthusiastic Rugby player and represented the College in both years with the First XV. He is also remembered for his Matchless 500cc motorbike, his thick rimmed glasses and his ever-present brown corduroy jacket. Greg graduated with a First Class Diploma and was one of the recipients of the Lord Acton Prize for Animal Husbandry and, in his First Year, the Runner-Up for the Shell Prize for Engineering.
After fulfilling his military commitment with the rest of C16 in the Army, Greg travelled overseas to the UK. Here he joined up with several of his College friends working at steel erection and labouring jobs eventually forming a steel erection partnership called Gwebi Steel which undertook contracts all over the UK. In January 1970, during one of their contracts in Scotland, Greg met Bonita in Edinburgh at The Palais which was a popular meeting place for young singles. Greg left Gwebi Steel and the UK in 1973 to emigrate to Australia and Bonita followed nine months later.
In Australia Greg took up temporary employment for three months as a representative with Bunge, a large wheat and flour milling company, but the job evolved into a permanent position which lasted for twenty-six years. Greg was based in Albury, New South Wales, and his responsibilities included selling flour to bakeries. When Greg was retrenched in 1999 he took a coach licence and drove for Martin’s Coaches doing school runs in that city for several years, followed by some voluntary work.
In 2012 Greg and Bonita decided to attend the Olympic Games in London to be followed by a lengthy holiday through South America and were already on the aircraft when Greg collapsed and was casevaced to a Sydney hospital. He was diagnosed with Mesothelioma Sarcoma which is a lung condition caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. Sadly he died one year later on 8th July, 2013. Greg’s condition was traced back to the time he worked for Bunge selling flour to the bakeries and the contact he had with their ovens which were lined with asbestos. It is noteworthy that Bunge Flour Mill accepted responsibility for Greg’s medical condition and death.
(It should be noted that Stan started Gwebi with C16 but was later accepted by Pietermaritzburg University to do a degree in Agriculture. However he’s in the C Group photo so whether he likes it or not he will forever be considered a Gwebian!).
What I remember about Gwebi are the initiations - the testicle tea, branding, dipping/dosing and, of course, the matchbox with two grasshoppers. I can still remember with pride what we had to recite "to show our love and appreciation for the soil and all those that live on it!". The University students that we captured on their campus and again released at the Gwebi main entrance, stripped naked and with two tobacco leaves to hike back to Salisbury.
After leaving Pietermaritzburg University I returned to the family farm in Bindura and farmed with my brother Lorry for some years doing the usual tobacco, cotton, maize and livestock. I moved to Banket where I met Shirley in 1974. From Banket I went to manage Boet Cloete’s farm in Chakari (he was a big dryland cotton producer), Shirley and boys staying on in Banket. I guess everybody that farmed in Rhodesia either had family or very close friends who were devastated by the terrorist war - the killings, trauma etc. Our family was not an exception. Shirley and I were fortunate, we gapped it in 1976 to go to the Kavango in what was then called South West Africa (the chicken run!).
The farm in SWA/Namibia was superb - 700ha centre pivot irrigation, the crops were cotton, maize, groundnuts, winter wheat and soya. The best yields that I ever got was 10 tons/ha on wheat, 7 tons on cotton and 20 tons on maize. The field sizes were 20ha. Some of the outstanding memories we have are the tribal folk and wildlife, this was a period we cherish. In 1990, President Sam Njoma came to visit, saw the crops on the field and was overjoyed saying, "I knew that the desert could produce food". (throughout Africa this was the main liberation goal). In 1992 he appointed me Deputy Minister of Agriculture. I think Nujoma's biggest strength was his lack of education, he used common sense and got the right answer about 90% of the time.
I retired from Government in 2002 and we moved to RSA in 2003 eventually ending up in a little place called Volksrust. We love our garden and enjoy the peaceful life - winter is also fun, never in our married life did we own a fireplace (cosy and comforting)! Our eldest son Basil and family live in Illiondale (about 270km from us) and the youngest son James and family live in Durban (about 350km) so we feel rather central. We have five lovely grandchildren between them and we strive to visit them alternately - they give us great pleasure.
Paul A. Whitaker.
Paul was born in South Africa, educated in Joburg and he fulfilled his military commitment with the South African Navy. Following in his brother Andy’s footsteps, who was C11, Paul enrolled at Gwebi with C16.
Paul played First Team Rugby at Gwebi and was awarded Colours both years. He is remembered for barging over the line and scoring the winning try against our Second Years when playing for the Governor’s Bowl.
Paul was Runner-Up to the Best All Round Student in his First Year but stepped up a few gears in his second year and was Best All Round Student at Graduation but chased hard by Dave Banks and Peter Storey.
After Gwebi he worked for Rurick Harvey in Mtepatepa and then Worsley-Worswick at Marandellas.
Paul moved down to South Africa and farmed near White River where he successfully grew tobacco. He later moved into building and construction in Nelspruit.
Paul was married to Carol with whom he had four children, Debbie, Sandra, Angela and Paul Jnr. Sadly Carol passed away in March 2011 from a heart condition.
Paul is now married to Sue and has retired from the construction company leaving his son to run the business.
Paul and Sue made a huge effort to attend our Gwebi Reunion in 2014 which was very much appreciated by his former friends from Gwebi.
Frederick P. York, “Fred”. Deceased.
On graduating from Gwebi, Fred returned to the family ranch in the Mangwe district, Matabeleland. For those Shifty Shonas who don’t know where that is, it’s south of Marula and at the bottom western end of that rugged Matopos country. The three farms, Vlakfontein, Roscommon and Despatch combined to make up a viable eighteen thousand acre sweet-grass cattle ranch. It’s great cattle country and the York family ran one thousand two hundred head of mainly Brahman, Afrikaner and Hereford cross cattle. Due to the severe droughts that Matabeleland suffered in the early seventies Fred was obliged to work for Internal Affairs for a year but vowed never to be caught short of water again. This resulted in Fred building a huge dam which not only guaranteed his water supply during the worst droughts but also enabled him to irrigate some crops. This dam, three hundred and twenty million gallons in size, was at the time, one of the largest privately owned dams in the country and Fred irrigated sorghum and maize for stockfeed as well as commercial crops of onions, tomatoes and potatoes.
Fred married Cynthia in 1975 and they have two children, Candice who is married and lives in Pretoria, and Alister, who now runs a trucking and earth moving company based in Bulawayo.
Fred and Cynthia were pressured into selling their ranch to the Government in 1984. This pressure by the Government was not so subtle and resulted in the Army being deployed onto their Ranch and setting up observation points and relay stations all over their land. Live rounds were left on gate posts and other places where the family could see them and absorb this message. The farmers were caught up in this war between the dissidents and the new government forces and after fourteen farmers were murdered by unknown assailants in Matabeleland South, the remaining farmers realised that this was one battle that they weren’t going to win and bowed to this pressure. The farmers were promised prompt payment by the Government which of course never happened. By the time they were paid the agreed amount five years later this greatly devalued sum couldn’t, in Fred’s words, ‘buy the back half of a pick-up truck.’
They moved to a smallholding in Bulawayo and Fred took up employment as the Manager of an international NGO called International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) which evaluated tropical crops such as sorghum and was based in the Matopos. This incredibly interesting work lasted for five years and took Fred to all the adjoining countries and, on one occasion, to Syria to look at their agricultural production. As the Manager, Fred took this organization from where it started in a chicken house to the complex it is today with offices, laboratories and workshops. He often had to interview the latest Gwebi graduates for employment as technicians at ICRISAT but was very disappointed at their competence and skill levels. Sadly, like many of our former colleagues, Fred was picked up by the police on trumped up charges but had to be released when they realised that there was no substance to the false accusations. Ultimately in 1991 Fred was deemed to be the wrong colour for his position at ICRISAT and was asked to resign.
Fred and Cynthia continued to live in Bulawayo and shared the property with their son who they helped with his business as well as growing vegetables and fruit for the local market. Sadly, Fred passed away from a heart attack in 2014.
Colin Lowe, with contributions from Ian Johnstone (Archivist), Brian du Preez, Pete Drummond, Howard Duckworth, Dave Eastwood, James Gilleran, Chris Brook, Jim Davis, Allister Banks, Neill Bathurst, Rob Beaton, Pauline Mitchell, Dave Moss, Andrew Newmarch, Emlyn Meier, Peggy and Andrew Misdorp, Tony Marillier, James Hamilton, Kurt Heyns, Stan Webster, Fred and Cynthia York, Peter Storey, Jon Smith, Mike Poffley, Margit Paterson, Alastair Paterson, Ian Raynor, Thordan Schoeman, Jenny Thomson (Sister of Greg Tams), Bonita Tams, Rob Smart, Paul Whitaker, George Hodgson, Sylvia and John Perrott.
'One evening with the PM during Initiation' by Chris Brook
In our first year initiation trial 'A' Group were given the task of getting the signatures of firstly, the guy who read the news on TV that night and then the really hard one, Mr Clifford DuPont who I think was the deputy Prime Minister and had just that very day defeated Sir Roy Welensky in a bye election, thereby ending Sir Roy's political career.
Rob and I volunteered for the job, but we had no transport. Neil (Bathurst) wasn't keen of going on this rather daunting task but he had a motorbike, I think it was something like a 100cc Honda and he very kindly lent it to us and off we went to town. First stop, the MOTHS Club where Rob’s father was a member and they had a very nice snooker table. After getting some Dutch courage going and discussing strategy we were off to the TV station and after a lot of sitting around and waiting, we got the signature but to our dismay no-one there knew where DuPont lived, someone suggested Featherstone?
So while we were topping up with some more Dutch courage and were coming to a blank wall, we suddenly came up with a brilliant idea. There is one person who definitely knows where DuPont lives and we definitely know where he lives and that's the Prime Minister. So off to the PM (just like that) but the guard on the gate couldn't help us so he phoned the man himself and to our surprise told the guard to send us in. Janet opened the door and with a big smile invited us in and the PM was waiting there with a smile, a handshake and a nice cold beer. Now at this time I was starting to get a little worried that maybe we had over-done things a bit, we hadn't come to get his signature, we only wanted directions and this is the Prime Minister, not an information bureau. But he seemed happy to see us and invited us to sit down and told us of his initiation at Rhodes here in Grahamstown. They made them all walk down the main street with one foot on the pavement and one in the gutter (I couldn't help feeling that that was pretty mild to the crap we were getting at Gwebi). We finished our beers and he phoned DuPont and off we went after being shown the directions. By now it was getting a bit late, around about ten, and when he opened the door he was wearing a dressing gown and so was his rather young wife (number 3, maybe they had been celebrating!) but no problem, they invited us in, sat us down and more beer and talked about the election. I think he was quite proud of giving Sir Roy a hiding, after all he was only half Sir Roy's size. He said that he was rather tired and after giving us a signed photo each, off we went.
Question; where in the world, today, when you want directions can you go and ask the Prime Minister, be invited in and given a beer?
Getting back to Gwebi was quite a problem as by now we were well oiled! I can remember going round a round-a-bout twice before I found the right road.
As related to Colin Lowe, 2015.
Rob Smart eviction and reversal in 2017.
Rob Smart, the 71-year-old farmer from the eastern district of Rusape, who had been kicked off his property at gunpoint in June 2017 has been told in December that he will be going home within days - the first signs of the post-Robert Mugabe government making good on promises to respect agricultural property rights. Rob said he understood his case had been taken up by new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who heard of Rob's violent eviction while at an investment conference in Johannesburg.
"Apparently Mnangagwa saw that and flipped his lid," he said. New provincial minister of state Monica Mutsvangwa had assured him that the eviction would be reversed.
Rob and his family, including two small grandchildren, were kicked off Lesbury Farm along with scores of workers in early June by riot police armed with tear gas and AK-47 assault rifles.
"They came with guns and riot gear and tear gas - it wasn't just us, it was all our workers as well, the whole compound," Smart said. In all, the eviction would have hit the livelihood of as many as 5,000 people.
The land grab and looting of property took place shortly after Mugabe told his supporters at a rally that all remaining white commercial farmers should be kicked off their properties to make way for the ruling Zanu-PF party's youth and his supporters who had no land. However the beneficiary from this eviction appeared to be top cleric, Trevor Manhanga.
In the latter half of Mugabe’s 37 years in power, Zimbabwe's economy collapsed, especially after the violent and chaotic seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms under the banner of post-colonial land reform. He resigned in November 2017 in the wake of a de facto military coup, paving the way for Mnangagwa, who had been purged as his deputy only a week before, to take over as leader. Rob and his son Darryn were called to Mutare for the new Governor’s welcoming rally where they were received like VIPS. The Governor and her husband both referred to Lesbury Farm and the issues that had been caused by the G40 (which included Bishop Manhanga}. Rob also had to make a speech.
Rob is working with the local authorities in Rusare who are under orders to track down looted and stolen property to allow him and his staff to bring the farm back to production.
After some delays, Rob is back on the farm and has planted a crop of potatoes.
Colin Lowe and social media reports.
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