Between the furrows
43 students enrolled with Course 22 in October 1970 and 37 went on to graduate in 1972. Eight First Class Diplomas were awarded at Diploma Day together with 29 Diplomas.
Gwebi College of Agriculture, 1972, Rugby First XV
Edwin Clifford Rex Ade was born at Bonda Mission in Inyanga in 1949 which was probably the only place that could be described as being “like a hospital” anywhere close to Inyanga – probably still is. We owned a farm there growing apples and did some Dairy.
I was the youngest of a pretty huge lot of “Ades” being his, hers and “not sure”. Most of the children were of the female variety – not sure whether that was a good or bad thing. My eldest brother, actually half-brother, was in Course 5 at Gwebi and ended up being a very successful tobacco farmer in Banket. The family is quite seriously separated, mainly through political problems, but also because of the wide variety of ages - I was once introduced to an opposition tennis player at Wedza who turned out to be one of my elder sisters!
I did correspondence school for kindergarten and can distinctly remember listening to some schooling on a blue circular radio which ran off a car battery - more interested in the whys and wherefores of the radio than in what was actually being said. Junior schooling was at Chancellor Junior School in Umtali – obviously the best school in the country! I spent most of my time there avoiding any organised sport, smoking in our “fort” and receiving punitive action from the tacky of Dale-Jones and the cane of Morrison-Young. Loved it all. I also happened to be at school with my future wife, Sue Gilling, but was stupidly unaware of her then.
Senior schooling was at Sinoia High School. I became interested in all sorts of sports here – even giving up smoking for my last year.
After various jobs - mainly in government departments – culminating in a few years in Internal Affairs based at Nuanetsi (I loved that area), I joined course 22 at Gwebi in October 1970. What a ball for two years! I worked just hard enough to pass at the end of the course and also to be engaged to Sue of the famed Gilling clan. Fred, who sadly passed away in August 2019, and Joan Gilling lived close to us in Dorchester, England.
Many varied jobs after Gwebi including one attempt at being a chemical rep in the Hartley/Gatooma area. I then spent a couple of years lecturing at Gwebi in the Field Section. It was quite an advantage being an ex-student in that one knew exactly what they were up to all the time.
Spent the first six or seven years of my farming life growing tobacco as the main crop in Trelawney, Hartley then Wedza. I had a chance to go on my own in Wedza in 1980 and am very glad that I didn’t - worst tobacco prices for years!
Joined Mazoe Citrus Estate for a couple of years then onto Simoona Estates, which was owned by Anglo American, near Bindura although our main area of entertainment and sport was Glendale Country Club. Our main crops were cotton, maize and soyas (quite large areas of each) - all dryland which seemed a little silly as we had 11 kms of river frontage with the Mazoe river. After I became General Manager we introduced some irrigation, but this was during the various farm invasions and it wasn’t too long before the situation at Simoona became untenable and I moved out of farming and into the same sphere in which my wife, Sue, had been trained in - schooling.
Spent a year at Peterhouse as (I forget my exact title) Assistant Bursar. We were then offered a joint partnership at Barwick School in Concession - Sue as the Headmistress and me as (another very long important sounding title) School Manager. Great fun! Unfortunately the government became interested in owning all private schools and we eventually decided to leave and go to England, landing here on 31st December, 2004.
Sue has been teaching in various positions close to Dorchester and I have been Mess Accountant at The Royal School of Signals in Blandford (about twenty miles away). Both our children moved to England before we did. Our daughter, Tammy, qualified as a chartered accountant while in Zim, then moved over here where she has taken various other degrees and is doing incredibly well in a job that neither Sue nor I understand. She is happily ensconced with an ex South African who has qualified as an anaesthetist. Our son, Bradley, followed Tammy a couple of years later and has also taken a degree (computer science), become a member of MENSA and is presently in the “Quantity Surveyor” business and also doing very well for himself, wife and son. We are very proud of both of them.
Although both Sue and I were very sports orientated when we were at Glendale, the only sport we have attempted here is golf which we enjoyed for a short while but seem to have lost a bit of interest? As you get older there seems to be less time for things!
Peter Noel Buchan
I was born in Lilongwe, Nyasaland in July 1952. For my primary schooling in 1958 I attended Eagle School in the Vumba which was a lengthy journey for a six year old boy as it required a flight from Blantyre to Salisbury, then a taxi to the Railway Station where I sat and waited for the overnight train to Umtali where, on arriving, I took a bus up to the Vumba and then onto Eagle School itself. In 1963 I moved to Peterhouse for my secondary schooling and shortly afterwards my family moved to Salisbury from Nyasaland.
My pre-Gwebi practical training was at Mkwasine Estate, Chiredzi along with Peter Margesson who would also join me on C22.
I completed the short course and had a great year with my roommate, Steve Smythe, who I apparently educated in the wonders of Joe Cocker and the like!
After Gwebi it was down to Llewellin Barracks and then a transfer to Artillery in Salisbury who were attached to the RLI and all of our bush trips were done in conjunction with that Regiment. After nine months fulfilling my military commitment I enrolled for a Massey Ferguson course at their Training Centre at Stoneleigh in the UK.
Back in Rhodesia I grew tobacco for Les Cullinan at Ruwa and then Dick Taunton at Norton. I married Celia Chetwynd, née Ramsay, in 1977 and moved to Umvukwes to grow tobacco, mealies and cattle for Alec Ramsay, Celia’s Dad. I transferred from Artillery to PATU in Concession and helped form a mounted unit which included Stowe Philp, C21.
In 1981, shortly after Zimbabwe’s Independence, I spent time in “Government facilities”, pleasure of RGM, driven around Mvurwi in the back of a Police Landrover in handcuffs, but luckily I was spotted by Prickle Thorn, C22, who alerted Celia, otherwise I could have “vanished”. I ended up in Bindura cells after a night in Mvurwi’s finest accommodation!! This episode, and a couple of subsequent events, was the turning point for us and helped us make our decision to leave Zimbabwe.
The decision was easier than the move. Once we decided to move to Australia, we applied and waited, and waited! We were turned down first time as it seemed that Oz had no need for Rhodesian tobacco farmers! We applied a second time having ‘changed’ our skills and abilities a little, and waited again. Then we got the call that the family, including all four children at boarding schools, had to go to Pretoria for an interview. I’m certain that the interview was designed to put us off wanting to go to Australia.
Never the less we were approved and we arrived in Adelaide, South Australia, in September 1985. We had no house, no job, no cash and four children all needing to go to school!! Celia and I took on all kinds of odd jobs. After many refresher courses and temp jobs, Celia finally got a job at Touche Ross on the human resources side.
We found what must have been the last of the old time bankers, who lent us funds to buy a house and a milk delivery round. He said at the time, “You don’t tick any of the boxes - no deposit, no proof of steady income, no secure jobs, but I’m going to give you the loan and I know you’ll pay back the loan ahead of time” . . . and we did!
So we bought a little old house and a milk run, (Milko), the idea being that I would be at home when the kids got back from school, as milk had to be delivered between midnight and 6 am in South Australia in those days and be able to spend the day, trying to get a business concept I had, off the ground.
I learnt two things from the milk run:
The Ozzy spider webs are strong enough to send you flying backwards, when you run into them at night, and
Ozzy dogs even bark and chase white men!
Another thing . . . this was during the times of “Confessions of a window cleaner/taxi driver, etc. etc”, our children, who helped out on the milk run occasionally, came home one day and said “Mum, you don’t have to worry about there being a “Confessions of a milkman”, we have to run too fast!!” I got extremely fit!!
I had always wanted to get back into agriculture, although I saw no chance of getting into the general wool and wheat industries of Australia. I had seen how similar conditions in Australia are to Africa, and that the livestock of choice in Australia are generally European breeds of cattle and sheep, because “That’s what Grand Daddy grew!” I also learnt that Australia is the world’s largest exporter of goat meat. I went out and looked at the goats that were being harvested, i.e. ferals of both sexes and all shapes and sizes. I knew we had better breeds for all of these purposes in Africa. We decided that the best breeds to bring into Australia were Boran cattle from Kenya, Tuli and Mashona from Zimbabwe and Boer and Angora goats from South Africa. These breeds were selected for a number of reasons, including marketability once we had got them into Australia. The wish list was longer but we had to draw the line, cash being the ultimate decider. The final choice was the Boer and South African Angora goats, Mashona from Zim and Kenyan Boran for the first time to Australia. The Tuli and Zambian Boran had been brought into Australia, previously, but in limited numbers.
The next problem was to fund the operation, including purchase of genetics from Africa, embryo transfer team to collect embryos in Africa and implant in Australia, purchase farm and build/establish quarantine station, (including housing for mandatory quarantine for two officers), purchase and prepare recipients and running costs for the entire operation through to the end of the five and a half year quarantine programme.
Long story short, the funds “fell” into place. After a fair bit of grind and leg work, we found some funding partners, and the business took off.
The cattle embryos were reasonably straight forward to source, other than the Boran from Kenya, as Australia, through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) had tried and previously been knocked back. Clearly, local knowledge and connections were required. The Boer and Angoras were interesting as the South African situation was still under “apartheid” conditions, with no chance of setting up a protocol between SA and Australia. Rhodesia in the meantime had become Zimbabwe and everyone was bending over backwards to assist and sign up agreements and protocols!
So, once we had formulated the appropriate protocols, (an 18 month process), we collected embryos from South African goats, (Boer and Angora), that had been moved from SA to Zim. The cattle embryos went through Cocos Islands quarantine facility, being implanted into recipient cows that we flew out there and back to South Australia.
The Boer and Angora embryos were implanted at Soames Island, (New Zealand Primary Quarantine Station), Wellington Harbour. Once pregnancy had been confirmed, the pregnant females were then moved back to the mainland and on to Flockhouse, Palmerston North, New Zealand North Island where the kids were born and weaned. They were then flown to South Australia to our newly completed quarantine station at Keith, South Australia. We had collected 1000 Boer and Angora embryos, 500 Boran, 250 Tuli and 250 Mashona embryos. A large importation by anyone’s standards!
In mid 1995, once we had completed the five and a half years of quarantine, we were then able to trade with Australia and the rest of the world. We have since sent goats and cattle, in the form of live animals, semen and embryos, to some 25 countries around the world, and spent nine years sending plane loads of live Boer goats to China. We also moved our operations from South Australia to Toowoomba, Queensland as we found that while conditions were ideal for goats in South Australia, Queensland was more comfortable to live in for humans!
In later years (2008) we also brought Dorper and White Dorper embryos directly from South Africa, as South Africa had become “acceptable” to the world by then.
In 2014, Celia and I ‘retired’ by going to Scotland for three years with some Boer goat embryos which we implanted into English Boer and Scottish Cashmere goats. We promoted Boers in the UK and Europe for the time we were over there.
We are now back in Toowoomba, Queensland, consulting and enjoying our four children and ten grand children.
David Aston Carshalton. Deceased, aged 26 years on 27th August 1976.
Dave was born on 29 June 1950, the second of three children to the union of Ralston (Dr Bob) Delanie Carshalton and Edith May Carshalton (née Seaward), his siblings being Mark and Deborah (Debbie).
He was educated at Chipinga Primary School and at Grey College, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
After schooling he attended Gwebi College and was then employed at Bon Espoir farm as the manager.
On that fateful day, Trooper Dave Carshalton was with call-sign 24 Bravo, Grey’s Scouts. They were on the spoor of a 70 member strong ZANLA gang in the Gona-re-Zhou area. Tracks were being rapidly followed on horseback in an attempt to make contact before they reached Mozambique.
After some five hours tracking, the troops encountered a well-prepared ambush, and in the initial fire-fight, Dave was tragically shot and killed, having been the lead scout on the left flank where the contact had been initiated. This action allowed the other members of the patrol time to dismount and skirmish towards where Dave had fallen.
G Cars and K Cars Fireforce deployed elements of 2 Rhodesian African Rifles to assist the horse troop, resulting in at least 40 deaths and several captures.
Dave was on his own horse, a mare by the name of “Nuisance”. The horse survived and was discovered and recovered sometime later when she was spotted by engineers escorting a convoy through the contact area.
Dave was the first of the Grey Scouts to be killed in action.
A brave man, David was a special person loved not only by his family but by so many people – he made friends so easily. The Chipinga community was devastated as Dave’s family was immensely popular, his father Dr Bob being the local medical practitioner.
John Rodney Grey Collett. Deceased.
Rod was born on the 5th December, 1950 in Johannesburg to South African parents, ‘Pie’ and Muriel Collett, who farmed in the Karoo. Rod had three siblings, an older brother Darryl and two sisters, Claudette and Carol.
Rod was schooled at Jeppe Preparatory School, Joburg, followed by Kingswood College in Grahamstown. By the time he had finished his schooling Rod’s parents had moved to Rhodesia where they had purchased Ingwesi Ranch in the Marula/Plumtree area. Rod joined them and Darryl where they ranched cattle, installed some irrigation and later on introduced wildlife onto the Ranch.
Rod enrolled with C22 at Gwebi in October 1970 graduating in 1972 with Distinctions in Animal Husbandry and Practical.
Rod was soon called up to do his military commitment and was commissioned as an Officer in 2nd Battalion, Rhodesia Regiment rising to the rank of Captain. It was during these war years that Rod married Coral and their children are Calvin, Sean and Hazel.
After Zimbabwe’s independence tragedy struck the Collett family when Peter Gradwell, married to his sister Claudette, came down to the ranch over the Christmas holiday and Peter and his daughter, Donna, just fifteen years old, were murdered by dissidents at the cattle dip on the 28th December, 1983.
Sometime later the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, ARDA, a government parastatal, bought Ingwesi Ranch from the Colletts who in turn bought Majingwe Ranch in the West Nicholson area.
Rod and Coral moved to Bulawayo where he involved himself in trucking cattle to the Cold Storage Commission for eighteen months. Thereafter the family finally left Zimbabwe to settle in Louis Trichardt where Rod, once again, started a trucking company moving sand and stone for Murray and Roberts who were building the new Air Force Base in that town.
Rod sold his trucking business in early 1991, invested in a solar power company and then bought a plot where he grew broilers.
He enjoyed his tennis and visited the family ranch at West Nicholson as often as possible but sadly this property was also overun by so called war vets and squatters in 2014.
Rod died from cancer on the 6th November, 2002 and is buried in Louis Trichardt.
Colin de Villiers
Colin Peter de Villiers. He was born in Bulawayo on the 26th February, 1952 and he attended Henry Low Primary School and then Hamilton High School in Bulawayo.
On deciding to apply for Gwebi Colin did his pre-Gwebi practical farming experience with Ian Bates, a well known dairy farmer at Thorn Valley Farm, Nyamandhlovu. Colin was accepted into C22 and graduated in 1972. His long vacation job between First and Second Year was with Senator H.J. van Biljon at Darwendale.
He fulfilled his military commitment at Llewellin Barracks and, along with Boyd Mathews and Jeremy Eastwood, became Rear Rank Instructors for following intakes. Colin recalls that Quentin Haarhoff, ‘Strippy’ Goddard, Rod Collett, Steve Smythe and Paul Loubser all from C22 were selected for leadership training at the School of Infantry, Gwelo.
Colin’s first job after finishing with the Army was with Lord Graham on Derry Farm, Nyabira, next door to Gwebi but after six months was persuaded to return to work for Ian Bates at Mananda Farm, Figtree growing irrigated crops for his dairy cows at Thorn Valley Farm. This position lasted for four years and in 1977 Colin married Avis and they moved to the Cotton Marketing Board in Hartley. Here they stayed until 1980 before moving to Triangle Animal Feeds as a Stockfeed Advisor in the same town before moving to Bulawayo with that company.
By this time they had a son Peter born in November 1979 and subsequently a daughter Katherine born in March 1982. In April 1981 Colin joined African Distillers Ltd as assistant manager of Worringham Vineyards and within six months was appointed manager, learning the art of winemaking in a short period of time which kept him well occupied up to and beyond 2005 when he was able to take over Worringham Vineyards, situated above the Blue Hills of Esigodini from Afdis. This Vineyard has the potential for about 45 ha under irrigated vines but unfortunately the demise of the economy lead to Colin’s premature retirement in 2016 and, whilst still residing on the farm, life goes at a much slower pace and mostly looking forward to paying visits to see grandchildren of which there are three in Dubai and two in Somerset West in the Cape.
Bruce Sholto Douglas. Deceased. Bruce was born on 17 July 1951 and was the only child born to Roderick and Margaret. He had two step sisters and a step brother derived from his father’s first marriage.
He farmed at Trelawney but once his father died in 1990 he lived and looked after his mother who turned 100 years old in 2018. Bruce never married.
He started feeling unwell towards the end of Feb with a lung condition and then was hospitalized early March and diagnosed with Bacterial Pneumonia. He died of Tension Pneumothorax on Monday, 25th March, 2019 at the age of 67.
Bruce’s passing was sensitive in the sense that he hails from an extremely private family and his express wish was that no personal information be disseminated about him or the family. Therefore there was no funeral as such only an informal family gathering and they wanted no condolence messages.
Jeremy was brought up on his Parent’s farm in Mrewa and had two elder twin brothers Paul and George. He attended Springvale and then Peterhouse Schools.
At Independence his father, also George, moved to Darwendale. After Gwebi Jeremy worked in Mutoroshanga, then for his father and then went on his own at Mrewa/Mtoko and finally bought a farm at Glendale.
Jeremy and Ingrid left Zimbabwe in 2004 to settle in Brisbane, Australia, and for the last fourteen years they have been running a business in Strathpine, selling Totalspan Sheds, organising the council, slab and construction of these metal buildings. That was a condition of their visa application. It would seem that they are happily settled there.
I was called up to do National Service, and a friend said join the bank because they pay you whilst doing National Service. I joined Standard Bank in Mangula and they deferred me until 1973, by then it was one year (Intake 133). I was downgraded medically and ended up in Harare at KGVI for the year. Lived at home and had a blast. I married in 1974 to Gill (née Souchon). Gill’s sister Angela, married Mitch Green. After army I was transferred to Rusape with the Bank where I met up with Stu Lindsay, Paul Lobster and Hansie. Had many a party at the Balfour.
I decided banking was not for me, and got a job farming at Concession with Alan Ravenscroft on Gem Farm. Stowe Philp and I were both in PATU together and had many a party with him. After that I went to Norton and worked on Fort Martin.
In 1978 decided to try the States and worked for Obe Veldman (Ex AI Bromley) just South of Dallas running a Pedigree herd of Sussex. At that stage we were having hassles to get in to USA being Rhodies and decided to come back home.
Got a job with Farmers Co-op as Stockfeeds Rep based in Mvurwi. I started playing Polo Crosse with Geof Burnett-Smith and Prickle Thorn. I then decided to try Polo and got hooked. I played Polo in Mvurwi and Harare until we were evicted from the farm.
In 1980 tried South Africa and was an Insurance agent for Liberty Life. Could not handle Joburg so came back home again!!
Went back to Farmers Co-op as Branch Manager at Mvurwi, the transferred to Harare as Regional Manager.
In 1989 I went back farming with Brian Danckwerts on Stoneridge Estates. Next door farm to the Old Blackfordby Tobacco Training in Harare South.
I bought the farm from Brian and all was good until 2000 when land invasions started. We were in the Harare area so were not meant to be affected. We were the record holders for being barricaded at one stage, nine nights. Even Colin Cloete and Chicken Forest (CFU President and Vice) tried to intervene but, could not sort it out. I managed to carry on until 2004 before giving up as it became unbearable and impossible to carry on farming.
Did my own thing for a couple of years then joined Guard-Alert where I still am, as the quartermaster. Gill and I have two Daughters both in the States. The eldest Claudia, her husband is in the Army, they have two girls and a son. They are presently based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our other daughter Hayley, lives in New York.
Jan Jacobus Ferreira was born in Sinoia on the 21st January, 1950. Kobus was the third child and second son in his family in the second generation of pioneers who originally settled in Melsetter. He developed his love of the country, farming, animals and hunting early on in his life. They then lived on Inyathi farm just past modern day Lomagundi College. The children say that they were taught two English words on the way to school where they had to go into boarding “Yes, which means ja,” and “No, which means nee.” Their parents felt that this was adequate grounding. He went to Sinoia Primary then Sinoia High. At high school Kobus excelled at sport and he represented the school in Athletics - shot-put, discus, high jump and long jump, Swimming, Water polo and Rugby. He proved to be a formidable force because of his size and he could run the 100 metres in 12.55 seconds. Kobus was a natural leader and he was selected as a school prefect – but he also had a love of living and fun which led to him being ‘de-preed’. He left school at the end of 1968 whereupon he completed his national service and played Rugby for Llewellin Barracks. He went to Llewellin in 1969 for army training and then Gwebi. He was in the territorial forces throughout the war years. He moved around a lot after Gwebi. From Norton to Hartley, Mangula, to Banket where he was working happily for the Nicolle Brothers until he met and married Cecile in 1985. He then moved to Mazoe to work for his father-in-law. Jan and Schalk were born there but he decided to part ways with his father in 1994/95 to preserve their relationship and moved to Charter Estates, owned by Lonrho in Featherstone.
In 97/98 he moved to Norton to work for Joe Kennedy where the farm invasions caught up during 2000. The lady who led the farm invaders was a Mrs. Rusike.
He moved to Lilfordia to work for Zimstock Sales then moved to Dallas Farm, Mazabuka, Zambia where he worked for Jimmy Vangelatos, commonly known as Jimmy the Greek who had a shocking reputation with almost every manager he employed. During eight long years in Zambia and some traumatic times, three years with Jimmy, my dad retired and started baking cakes and koeksisters for the neighbourhood. My mom was teaching at Musikili and children’s birthday cakes flew off the shelf. Zambia brought my dad back in touch with Ant Collett who he had played Rugby with at Gwebi. We lived in the Mazabuka area throughout our years in Zambia.
In 2010 we moved back to Zim as Cecile and his son Jan were employed by Falcon as teachers. Kobus became a Tech Drawing and Agriculture teacher. He had bad knees from his Rugby and his weight crippled any hope of recovery. He had to wait until a certain age in order to have them replaced. Finally that day arrived, however he couldn’t get both done at the same time for mobility reasons. He also had a weight target to reach for heart reasons. The first knee operation was a success and instant joy. The build up to the second knee was pure excitement. Then the last night after the second successful knee operation, he was due to be released the next morning, his heart gave in and he passed away on Friday 13 July, 2012. After he died, the same boys that he had constantly admonished were uncontrollable in their grief at his memorial in the Falcon chapel. This was fitting testament to his character. It was amazing how an old school agriculture teacher/farmer could deeply touch the lives of teenage boys and emotionally affect them like that and stunned his sons. Kobus and Cecile were married for twenty six years before his passing and he was always devoted to his family and happiest with his family around him. Kobus is survived by his wife Cecile and their two sons Jan and Schalk.
Jan said “I will never forget my Father’s delight that I sensed in the tone of his voice when he spoke of Gwebi. On more than one occasion he would tell me that those were the best days of his life. Gwebi has in a way helped him see and explore Africa. Many farmers grow to love and know the earth in their communities. My old man was fortunate to extend his community across borders. He is my hero and my brother’s too.”
Edited from tributes from his son Jan and his younger brother.
Brian Robert Francis George.
After graduating I fulfilled my National Service and after the initial training phase I was selected to join the Corps of Engineers together with Steve Pope and Dave Sole. After training, I was posted to Binga. We operated patrol boats until mid December on Lake Kariba. We were then deployed to Mukumbura for the balance of our national service where we lifted landmines laid by terrorists and set our own Security Force mines along the border area. Nothing really happened to make it memorable.
In May 1973 I joined Internal Affairs but left five months later to join my girl friend in South Africa where I worked for Tongaat Sugar and Tongaat Poultry in various management roles from Section Supervisor to Farm Manager. Whilst working for Tongaat I was sent to further my studies at Berkley, (UCLA) in America. During this time I married my long time girl friend in June of 1976 but sadly we were divorced nine months later.
In October 1979 I returned to Rhodesia and joined Rhodesia Fertilizer Corporation as a Technical Rep based in Karoi. Louis Hartley and I joined RFC on the same day. I worked with Graham Hall in the Tengwe and Karoi North area. There were a number of ex Gwebi guys farming in the area - Dave Grantham, Chris Herud and Don Stotter.
In Dec of 1980 I saw no long term future for the then Rhodesia and returned to South Africa. In 1981 I joined the South African Sugar Association where I worked, firstly in the Pathology Department, then the Extension Division. Eventually I was posted to Malelane in the Lowveld. With me in Extension was Grant Buchanan originally from Conex who lectured us at Gwebi in deciduous fruit production. Tony Donovan, also previously a lecturer in Crop Husbandry and Vice-Principal at Gwebi, was a the Assistant Director of SASEX while I was there.
In 1993 I was head hunted by the Sugar Company (TSB) to join them with the goal of achieving the best performing Sugar Mill in the South African Sugar Industry. It took three years to achieve our goals. I also set up and invested into a Tourism Agency in Madagascar and five ‘Chicken Licken’ Franchise Shops in the Lowveld.
In 2003 I formed an Agricultural Management and Consultancy Company and in doing so I returned to Davis UCLA and completed my PhD in Genetics. Over the last 16 years we have consulted in 63 different countries and done very well with the team we have established which can do anything associated within agriculture.
Unfortunately in October 2011 I suffered a heart attack resulting in a 12 hour heart bypass operation the following February which fortunately was successful. I took it easy for a year before returning to work but I’m now fully retired and living in Nelspruit with my two daughters and son.
Don ‘Strippy’ Goddard
Donald Galbraith Goddard is Deceased. He was born on the 11th April, 1953 and was always known as ‘Strippy’ because his mother couldn’t get to the Maternity Home in time and he was born on one of the strip roads that were prevalent in farming areas at that time. His parents were Don and Joan, well known ranchers in Matabeleland.
Strippy attended Chaplin High School in Gwelo and after enrolling at Gwebi with C22 he graduated in 1972 and was the Runner-Up for the Rhodesia Seed Council Award on Diploma Day. Like all his contemporaries that completed Gwebi he fulfilled his military commitment at Llewellin Barracks and was commissioned as an officer with the Second Battalion, Rhodesia Regiment.
Although ranching at Shangani Strippy became very interested in politics and, after attending a meeting that had been addressed by Ian Smith, he was advised by the Prime Minister to stand for Parliament if he wanted to have a say in the running of the country. He decided to apply to the Rhodesian Front to be nominated as the prospective Member of Parliament for Matobo. He was easily voted in as the MP for that Constituency during the General Election of 1977 with 90% of the votes against the candidate from the Rhodesia Action Party who had been the previous incumbent of that constituency for the RF but had defected to the opposition.
In the 1979 Elections, which allowed the RF to nominate 8 non-constituency candidates, Strippy missed out on being nominated by his party but soon afterwards T.C. de Klerk, the RF Member of Parliament for Lundi was killed in a rocket attack on his home, and Strippy was proposed as the new MP and was returned unopposed in the by-election as the MP for Lundi.
In the 1980 Elections where 20 seats were reserved for Whites, Strippy was again returned unopposed as the RF Member of Parliament for the Lundi Constituency.
On the 1st January, 1984 Strippy was invited to a New Year’s Day party near Selukwe where tragically he fell to his death from a cable slide onto some rocks some ten to fifteen metres below. Strippy was only 31 and still single at the time of his death.
Boetie York (C20), his very good friend from Matabeleland, says that when he was keen on dating my sister he had to tell him “Strippy, you’re one of my best friends but I sure as hell don’t want you as my brother-in-law! Go and look somewhere else for a date.”
Strippy had lived by his motto of “Live fast, die young and be a good looking corpse.”
David Allan Gordon was born in Umtali on 11th Jan 1950 and I have one younger sister. I attended Chingola Primary and High Schools, then at end of 1965 I went to Umtali Boys High then transferred to Que Que High were I finished in 1968.
I first worked for Dudley MacKenzie in Chisamba on tobacco near where I am farming now. In 1969 he immigrated to Karoi so I went to work for Jimmy Walker on tobacco, also in the Chisamba area. The next year 1970 I went to Gwebi. My nickname at Gwebi was Flash Gordon, a comic strip hero which I was not aware of and which was given to me by Stan Hodierne, our Hostel Warden. He was an ex RSM from Kenya. He was a tough character at the best of times but he was needed to keep control of us unruly students.
On graduating from Gwebi I came back to Chisamba and worked for Galaun Holdings growing 1000 acres of maize and running 4000 head of cattle. After two seasons I became a Tobacco Board Tenant Farmer and I was allocated a farm of 600 hectares near Dudley Mackenzie.
In 1985 the tobacco scheme collapsed so I bought my farm and over the next five years many farmers went bankrupt or left the country so I bought up six more farms, making over 7000 hectares with six homesteads. I called it all Sable Farms, as in those days there were many Sable living here but they were all poached out a few years later. At peak production I grew 2000 hectares of maize and 200 hectares of tobacco and had 400 head of cattle making us the biggest maize and tobacco growers in Zambia at that time. I have developed 500 hectares of Centre pivot irrigation and am putting in another 600 hectares starting in 2019.
I now have 2500 head of cattle and 2500 head of game and we started safari hunting in 2019 but have been conducting live sales of wildlife regularly - 270 animals to President Kabila in Congo and 60 in Zambia. This year we sold 143, all big animals, to Mushingashi Game farm in Kafue area , 55000 hectares belonging to an American Billionaire Tudor Jones who has huge investments in Wildlife all over Africa. He is The Dow Jones you see on the New York Stock Exchange. So we have a good market for live game at the moment. We have seventeen different species of wildlife.
My pastime has always been hunting and fishing and going on overseas international holiday trips focusing on visiting farms and anything to do with agricultural production. I have visited South America four times and I’ve covered most of the world except India and Australia.
I was first married to Jan Nicholson whose grandmother taught my mother in Umtali Girls High in the 1920’s. I had two children with Jan - Verona then Douglas. I was married again in 1991 to Marry and had Xander and Stephanie.
I was on the board of Zambia National Farmers’ Union for 15 years, Vice President for 5 of them. When I was voted in by the small scale farmers there were 75 associations in the Union and only 5 associations were commercial. I have always had a close relationship with our six local chiefs too and I speak two Zambian languages. I was also a board member of Stanbic Bank for 12 years and President of the Tobacco Association for 5 years.
Peter Quentin Haarhoff was born in Sinoia in 1952 and attended Norton Junior School and then Plumtree School.
After graduating from Gwebi with Course 22 I attended the School of Infantry in Gwelo where I was commissioned as an officer and posted to 1 Independent Company at Kariba. Also commissioned as a Platoon Commander from our intake was Paul Loubser, a fellow graduate from C22. I was later promoted to Company Commander for E Company 1RR until elections.
I then farmed with my father Peter on Binge Farm in the Doma farming area eventually buying it after marrying my British wife Amanda. We grew commercial and seed maize in rotation with soya and winter wheat as well as tobacco and horticulture for export. I crossed pure bred Hereford Cows with Beefmaster Bulls for pen fattening steers and cull cows, as well as breeding horses for Polo and cattle work. Along with the farming I was involved with developing a game conservancy close to the farm with four neighbours for tourism.
We lived at Binge Farm up until 2000 when we were violently evicted from a highly profitable mixed farming operation. I was not allowed to remove any movable property or livestock and received not one cent in compensation.
After losing the farm, my wife and our children Eliza, Vanessa and Matt moved to England. I took a five year contract as General Manager of Rift Valley Coffee Company in Northern Zambia growing 1500 ha of Arabica coffee. It paid well and we managed to buy a house in Bristol. In 2007 I moved to Bristol and worked with USAID and a commercial coffee company assessing coffee and cocoa potential in Angola, DRC Congo and Cameroon.
At present I am in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, as Director of Coffee. We grow shade grown Arabica on Mount Gorongosa, a Rainforest which is under pressure from local population who practice slash and burn. It is a great project funded by the Carr Foundation. I spend half my time in the Park and half at home in Bristol where we walk and cycle a lot and I enjoy reading, mostly the history of Africa.
I was born here in Swaziland in 1951 and did my first four years of school at St. Mark’s in Mbabane up until Std 2. I was then sent to Highbury Junior School in Hillcrest outside of Durban. After three years I then went to Kearsney College up the Road in Botha’s Hill. I finished school at Kearsney in 1969 and was at a loss what I was going to do after school. By chance I saw a prospectus from Gwebi and applied. I was given a number of farmers’ names to apply to do the nine months practical farming. I contacted Mr George Moorcroft in the Belingwe district and at the beginning of January 1970 I stared working for him. I enjoyed my time with the Moorcrofts and learned a lot about Cattle farming, borehole repairs, welding and general repairs.
In February I was interviewed by Gwebi Principal Mr. Mundy in Bulawayo and was duly accepted for Course 22 to start in October 1970.
After doing the Short Course, as Mr. Rhodes called it, I returned home to Swaziland with my tail between my legs and worked at home until the end of !972.
At the beginning of 1973 I signed up for a two year Diploma at the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture in the Western Transvaal. Being the only ‘Engelsman’ amongst seventy odd Afrikaans speaking students I was in for a hard time. After three months I was more or less able to understand lectures so that helped and I was allowed to write my Exams and Tests in English.
Being able to play Rugby and outdo some big Afrikaners I made it to the first team and stayed there for my time at College which helped a lot. Two years later I received my Diploma.
After graduating I worked for Soetvelde Farms in 1975 which belonged to Anglo American near Vereeniging as the Ranch Manger for their cattle section. I worked there up until 1976 when my father passed away and I then returned home and have farmed here in Swaziland since then. Farming with cattle is what I mainly do here, but grew cotton up until 2000 after which I only did a bit of seed maize for Seed Co and maize and potatoes. We are not allowed to grow GM cotton or maize so it makes life more difficult and labour is hard to come by as they all want the job but not the work.
I married Ann Lefrere in 1978, a Teacher from Bedfordview, Johannesburg and our son Anthony was born in 1982 and our daughter Mandy in 1986.
In 1994 I represented Swaziland at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria , Canada. Came last but it was good fun.
Keith Edward Holland Hartley is the older twin brother of Dave Hartley and attended Fort Victoria Junior School then Prince Edward in Salisbury. They both graduated with Course 22.
David Holland Hartley. I was born January 1952 in Salisbury, the youngest of twin boys. My brother Keith was also on C22 and we had an elder brother Robin and sister Lesley.
Keith and I were initially schooled at Fort Victoria Junior School and then onto Prince Edward in Salisbury. We were brought up on Wares Estate in the Fort Victoria farming area just above Lake Kyle where the family had been for almost 100 years. The farm was situated in this semi desert region of extremely variable rainfall with frequent droughts occurring every five years but we grew crops under flood irrigation and bred beef cattle.
Having both decided to apply for Agricultural College I did my Pre-Gwebi at Chisumbanje Irrigation scheme on the lower Sabi River (Sabi Limpopo Authority) and then after graduating from 'Gwebi College of Superior Knowledge ', with this collection of dangerous 'Know everything', my father sagely suggested that I enter the commercial world.
My first employment was with Farmer's Co-op as a Livestock Consultant for Animal Feeds and Nutrition and was posted out in the Lomagundi area - Banket, Sinoia and Karoi and then back to Salisbury. I then moved to Rhodesia Fertilizer Corporation which was an Anglo American subsidiary and I was responsible for the Bindura farming area.
I had initially done my military service with Intake 130 for twelve months and was fortunate to be selected to go to the School of Infantry in Gwelo after which I was posted to Wankie in the '73 drought. There was zero water in the bush except on the Upper Zambezi. Thereafter with increasing length of call-ups and four years of Infantry soldiering, where I got to visit and know the country extremely well, I transferred to the Rhodesian Armoured Corp which had big guns and huge firepower.
After RGM came to power I left for Joburg and joined Ciba Geigy, the Swiss based world of agrochemicals - flying to all of the so called 'Independent’ states around South Africa ... then moved to Gundle Plastics on the R22 Highway, East Rand. After 15 years there as General Manager of Marketing my father became increasingly incapacitated with age, so I returned to Zimbabwe to manage our 450 cow breeding cattle with a five way cross-breeding program which was very successful and intensive cropping under flood irrigation, largely Maize for both Human and Steer supplementary feeding and finishing. We were the third farm to be invaded ... gradually farming of any reasonable sort became impossible ... plus the increasing threat of physical endangerment from assault so we sadly packed it in January 2001.
I moved to Texas in 2001 to manage a small Brangus herd. The majority of Texans know little of Cattle – it’s all about the Dollar – they still used drugs that were banned in Rhodesia in 1976 then after three years of GW Bush nonsense, I moved to Vancouver BC, Canada where I was employed with an Environmental Plastic additive company so flew around the world and across five continents ... everywhere except Russia! After 15 years on the Hippie West Coast within 'PC riddled' dark ‘n’ cold Canada I decided that Justin 'Castro' Trudeau was going to destroy their revelry so I decided to moved to Ecuador on the shoulders of the Andes range. It’s a superb country and I bought a piece of property where I planted 20,000 Arabica coffee trees with four different varieties including Ethiopian and Kenyan. The learning curve continues where I apply Gwebi superior knowledge - Aluta Continua !
After the debacle of the 2000 land theft and invasions, marriage became a thing of the past. I have two delightful and independent thinking kids, Lance, now aged 33 and Louise, 30 years old with two kiddies. I keep myself busy with 11 mutts and my hobby is dealing with life!
Gordon K. Hayzen’s father was a Pilot Training Officer in the RAF and had been posted to Rhodesia during the Second World War to train pilots to fly in the ideal weather and relatively safe flying conditions.
His father stayed on in Rhodesia at the end of the war and became a dairy farmer next to Ntabazinduna and it is here that he met and married Gordon’s mother who was Rhodesian born. Gordon was born in 1951 at the Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo.
Gordon attended Fairbridge Junior School and then onto Gifford Technical for his senior school. On deciding to apply for Gwebi he spent a year on a ranch near Plumtree for his pre-College practical. On leaving Gwebi Gordon returned to the family farm and fulfilled his military commitment, firstly in the Army and later on he transferred to the Police Reserve in his farming district.
They sold the farm in 1990 and Gordon worked for Mono Pumps in Bulawayo until he left Zimbabwe in 1998 to live in the United Kingdom. Gordon settled in Salisbury, Wiltshire where he works for Public Health England at the Porton Down Laboratories.
Gordon has two adult children and two granddaughters. He was a keen archer and now flies model aircraft and helicopters.
Tim Kellett Henwood tells his story. It will be 50 years this September since Course 22 arrived at the gates of Gwebi, the College of Knowledge. Little did we know what lay ahead.
Week one, which seemed like year one, was initiation. If I recall we were the last to experience full on initiation although it continued more clandestinely for years I think.
Course 21 ably led by Andy Samuels managed to terrify the life out of us. We saw the roughies smoothed and the smoothies roughened. If I had been asked about life after Gwebi that week I think I would have said there was none. Our dead grasshopper funerals and Goof Hortons' dose were indelibly imprinted in our memories. There were the extremists, the likes of Karel, Goof, Stowe, Charlie Olivy and the moderates, Chris, Zoomph, Mike, Camel and others, and all in between who made up a formidable mob to terrorise us all. When I hear hooters in the night I still think of Nick (the old boy) being bored by the whole affair and trying to exclude himself. No such luck. We were all in this together.
As I write this nearly fifty years later I think of that week as one of the reasons why Savory has been able to trace us all, to a man. We have in some way or another kept ties for nearly fifty years. It was really great last year for so many of us to be together.
The list for the fiftieth this year has many of last year’s absentees. Who would have believed we'd be spread from South America to Australia and everywhere in between.
After Gwebi I moved to Umvuma area and ran a ranch with my brother. In 1974 Wendy and I were married and started our married life on Msena, 50 kms from Umvuma and in the middle of nowhere. We became accustomed to being isolated by flooding rivers and having friends stay longer than intended because the way home was impassable.
The war came and we moved to Banket in 1977. Having a tarred road nearly to our gate was like a dream come true. The farm we had was a dryland cropping farm and we set about learning the way of tractors, combines etc. The teachings of Bernie, Mealie Pip, Brickie and Fred and all the others were often more useful than I ever believed they would be.
Over the next "Lifetime" of years we had three wonderful children and developed our farms into several hundred hectares of irrigation growing Wheat, Soyas and Maize.
I became involved in organised agriculture as the local Grain rep and served on the Grain Producers Committee for many years. I managed to dodge a senior position there and served one term as vice chairman. I served under Bud, Bob, Tok, Quentin, John Parkin and Gibbo.
The nineties saw Zimbabwean agriculture go ahead as never before. Huge investments were made by farmers into dams, irrigation, horticulture and tobacco. We were no different and any spare cash was spent on our land. We believed we were there for the long haul.
Bob had different ideas. December 1997 and 1500 farms listed for acquisition. The farming community was in panic and disarray. I was elected Regional Chairman for CFU Mashonaland West. Before I had even chaired a meeting of the MashWest Branch as we were known, I had a visit from the hierarchy. Would I run for Vice President of CFU? For reasons I will never know, I accepted.
In 1999 I was elected President having done only one year as a Vice President. The big office that I had hardly ever been into was suddenly mine. Zimbabwean Farmers were by then in a terrible state and answers were needed immediately where, sadly none existed. It was a difficult time for everyone and as a leadership group we tried every angle we could to find a solution and some sanity in the midst of a politically motivated extermination of our community. History shows that we failed. The farming community that had taken a hundred years to build was destroyed in a very short time, and along with us. So was the country. Wendy and I, like so many of our friends, had no choice and left the farm and our home.
Unable to see a way out and probably armed with knowing the depth of evil and corruption that existed; we decided to look for alternatives and came to Australia in 2005. I had a job as a tractor salesman in a remote Australian village that was to be our new home. We set about learning this new way of life with me selling tractors and Wendy working in the local aged care organisation.
Today we are very happily settled in Australia and live on a small property running a few cattle. We have six wonderful grandchildren all born in Australia.
Bruce Marshall Hobson. Deceased. Bruce was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia on 26th January, 1950 to Ken and Eve Hobson. Bruce spent a lot of time with his Godfather, Henry and Vera Culverhouse, family friends who owned a tobacco/cattle farm, Elephant Hill Ranch, in Battlefields near Gatooma. He loved farm life, helping his ‘Uncle’ Henry with much of farm general life - the dehorning of the cattle, dipping, hunting, horse riding all over the farm etc. ‘Uncle’ Henry treated Bruce as though he was his son and Bruce, in years to come, hankered after farm life and secretly hoped he would inherit the farm.
The family moved down south to Durban when he was 12. He attended Grey’s College and then on to Maritzburg College as a Boarder. The family missed farm life and rented a small holding in Rosetta where they kept three horses. He failed Afrikaans in Matric and repeated it at Westville Boys High. He was a real surfer boy, loved his German Shepherd dog, Rinty, music and fell in love.
He decided to do Mechanical Engineering at Durban Technical College and was awarded a Bursary. Unfortunately, the beach with his dog in tow, was too tempting and he hardly attended lectures, and so the bursary ended. He begged his father to let him go to Gwebi and follow his dream.
Bruce made some best and very special friends at Gwebi. Getting up to all sorts of hijinks. Out one night in his VW Beetle, he hit a cow and gave his parents, naturally, a long sob story to get his car fixed.
Each December holiday these special friends would come to Durban, sometimes staying at Bruce’s home or, later, renting a dodgy place near to the docks where they worked as Stevedores in Durban Harbour. These were special times with the very best of friends.
After graduating at Gwebi, he travelled around Europe in a truck with two Rhodesians, Boet and Stowe. He arrived in Nordlingen, Germany where there was a huge group of New Zealanders, Aussies and South Africans. One day they all went out in the truck for a picnic by a lake. The boys walked out on the wharf and did a down-trou, while the girls took photos from the shore. Then Bruce decided to walk across the frozen lake. Unfortunately, it cracked and he fell in, Luckily, he was rescued but in need of warmth and care. That is how he met a young, pretty New Zealander, Legri Gates, who tended to him, and fell in love again.
Bruce, Legri and some of these special friends, Johnny Steel, Prickle Thorn and Graham McSkimmings went to work in Hampshire UK as agricultural contractors.
He brought her home to South Africa and married her to the song “A Lighter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum. He managed a couple of farms, loved and lived life to the absolute full. Legri gave him two beautiful children, Debbie and Scott. He was such a proud father. He realized sometime during that time that he wasn’t going to inherit a farm and should try to use his brain – making a decision to study at night for a Chartered Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. He left farming to work for The Underberg Farmer’s Co-op on the accounts side. Before the children turned two, Legri and Bruce decided to move to Auckland, New Zealand. He resumed studying but he suffered some sort of epileptic fit and couldn’t use his right hand for a while. He taught himself to write with his left hand. He loved his kids but the marriage came under strain. He came back to South Africa – Legri and Bruce deciding to sadly end the marriage.
Bruce worked for a chemical and explosives manufacturer A.E.C.I. (a subsidiary of ICI UK) in Durban, renting a flat for some years. He developed interests in gliding, sailing and skin diving.
Later he met and fell in love with an Australian girl, Gail Martin, who was travelling around South Africa. They were married shortly after he moved to Australia. His first job was District Manager ICI Australia Operations Pty Ltd in the mining town of Kalgoorlie, 600kms east of Perth, Western Australia.
Together Gail and Bruce bought 5 acres in the Perth hills and built a home. Later they moved to Perth when Bruce changed jobs to Chemical Sales officer for CSBP and Farmers Ltd in Perth CBD. While living in the hills he resumed his love of chooks, guinea fowl and developed his small property. He fenced it with Scott’s help (his eldest son, just 12) and Sam (a young baby) by his side in the pram. He built holding tanks for the only water available, pumped from the ground.
Bruce had another German Shepherd, Max and they took a few weeks off to travel across Australia on his BMW motor bike to attend the Phillip Island motorcycle Grand Prix south of Melbourne, Victoria.
Bruce and Gail had two precious children Samuel and Nicholas. Bruce’s Kiwi children, Debbie and Scott visited their dad in Perth regularly. At one point Scott lived with the Perth family for three years so there was always a connection despite the geographical distance between his children.
Bruce converted his South African qualification into a Certified Practicing Accountant or CPA in Australia. He also continued studying to become a successful financial advisor, joining an accounting practice in Perth. He was a bright popular man who always lived and loved life to the maximum. He enjoyed taking apart and then fixing all sorts of things including cars and motor bikes. In Perth, he bought a yacht, ‘Helsig’, and loved sailing with his young boys whenever he could. He made friends easily and had lots of close friends from mining, accounting and sailing.
So all in all Bruce had a daughter, Debbie, and a son, Scott with Legri who in turn have given him four grandchildren, and two sons with Gail, Samuel and Nicholas.
The marriage took strain and he got very depressed. He travelled to South Africa and to New Zealand to see his family – perhaps to say goodbye. Unfortunately, he just could not get his emotions on track, even with medication or perhaps because of it. He sadly ended his life on the 5th April 1993, losing out on his beautiful children growing up. They’ve all become wonderful adults with so many of Bruce’s characteristics – all the good points. Interestingly his eldest daughter, Debbie, (Johnny Steel’s god-daughter) met and married a South African, Mark Schultz, so they have maintained a close link with the Hobson clan as they continue to visit Mark’s family in South Africa.
After Gwebi off to National Service as was most of us from the course down to Llewellin Barracks. We were all reasonably fit compared to the majority of the intake. Nothing really exciting. Nearly joined R.L.I. but was only prepared to do 3 years not the 5 years as stated, my future plans were certainly not in Africa. Having lived in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and R.S.A. No! Africa was not in the blood, so to speak. In all I only spent eight and a half years in Africa. Fantastic continent but the local population frustrated me to the nth degree so no point hanging around.
After National Service I needed to find some work but a bit difficult as I didn’t have any close friends or contacts. My parents had split neither having a cent between them let alone somewhere for me to crash. A good friend from National Service, Jimmy Jeans, realized my predicament and said I could stay at his place in Bulawayo till I got work. I ended up on the railways at Gwelo.
It was an interesting occupation as I kept fit running after goods carriages, jumping on them, then jumping off just before banging into the rest of the train, it was a bit dangerous with a few old guys getting around with one leg. That is what happens when you crawl between rail tracks and have a rough shunt at the other end of the track.
One guy was taking the locomotive off the rest of the train, but timed it wrong and got caught between buffers, squeezing his rib cage together. Just cannot be too careful. The African shunters refused to work on that track for a few days as they were eyeballing the blood.
In that time in Gwelo I met many guys from around the world plenty of Aussies, Canucks and Poms. Before I set foot in Africa, I always wanted to head to Aussie. I did a lot of reading on it as a kid in Scotland. When arriving by ship from U.K. in Cape Town July 1965 I recall telling my parents, “Now I’m halfway to Australia.”
I applied to immigrate to Australia whilst on the railways. They said it was harder to get in and the 10 Pound Pom journey was no longer available. I was invited to an interview in Pretoria, it must have gone well as later got my acceptance from Aus Embassy. The next day I booked a ticket on the next ship leaving Cape Town which was just before Christmas 1973. Prior to leaving I hitch hiked to Vic Falls to see my ‘Old Queen’, she was shocked and disappointed with my decision to leave Africa. With the family problems over the last few years I didn’t expect to see any family members again, I was happy to be going. My brother, in the BSAP, said I would be back in three months – got news for you Pal !! They arrived years later.
I got several rides to Cape Town, arriving three days before departure, but then the ship was delayed by some strike. The last lift I got down, the guy said I could stay at his place until the boat went, but I opted for a youth hostel and met many young travellers like myself.
Ten days across the Indian Ocean was uneventful. I didn’t have much money in the pocket for when I arrived in Fremantle so, no drinking. The food on board was great as was the general company.
Arrived Freemantle which was an immediate culture shock. After getting through immigration and customs with my worldly goods in my wee backpack coming in at 10kg I saw a kid, maybe 13-14 years with long hair on his shoulders, yelling out “Daily News Paper for sale.”
Myself and two other ship mates in much the same position, needed work. This was Sunday midday so we jumped on a train for Perth to find digs. But first, we agreed to find a pub and have a Swan. We shared a big room in the Britannia Hotel. One roommate claimed to be a chef and had all the credentials and references from posh hotels in the U.K. He had got hold of the Hotel’s writing paper and had written out his own glowing references. He had several interviews and had work by week’s end. (Game as Ned Kelly!)
I got an interview with an agency specific for rural work areas. On the Wednesday I caught a bus to Esperance and was dropped off at the start of a dirt road 60 miles before Esperance to be met by someone. Had a fantastic welcoming on opening the bus door by a million flies all wanting to be my friend. (Give me the mopane flies back.)
The station overseer picked me up and got me to the quarters and introduced me as the new Jackeroo. Normally a new jackeroo every 2-4 weeks, it turns out. Lot of work was new. I could ride a horse, just. Now it was full in the saddle for quite a long time. I was given two horses to look after one, Idaho, knew every turn of cattle and sheep, all I had to do was sit there. The other, Handsome (anything but) was skittish and would rear up for any reason. Hang on and dig your heels in. A station hand showed me how to fit shoes, looked easy for him in no time. My first took a couple of hours and my back was wrecked.
We had to take it in turns to knock over a few sheep for the mess and station. That was a Saturday morning job “do that and knock off for the weekend.” I got shown on how to do it by a station hand. These guys had experience and were really good people although some couldn’t read. Stations, horses and trucking is what most did. Needless to say to skin and gut four sheep took me a long while, but experience is the best teacher. Coming towards winter it was scarifying, ploughing, seeding time and sheep were brought in for crutching, and some were to be shorn. (26,000 sheep)
When I got a spare moment I would go into the shearing shed at smoko time, maybe get the odd sanger or cake that the shearers had left over. Shearing teams are self-contained and employ their own cook. For me watching them shear I found it mesmerising, sweat just pouring off them. Bloody hard work … definitely not for this Jackeroo.
After we got the shearing and crutching was finished, some of the guys left of their own accord for better paying work. Others, got the sack for minor misdemeanours, like parking the truck on top of the battery charger. It didn’t work anyway, well not anymore. I had intended staying for 12 months, but they had a problem with me jumping on the bike Friday after work and racing 60 miles into Esperance to stay with a nice sort for the weekend.
Sad as it was I had to leave, would have loved to have bought Idaho, such a great horse, we really had connected. But, the truth of the matter was all I had was my bike and backpack. I was offered work on another station to help with the seeding, it was right on the south coast. In between seeding we were chasing flies ie fly blown sheep. Maggots will kill a sheep in 7 days – a horrible death.
Seeding there on the coast was a rush job. Every available tractor worked 24/7, so it was 12 hour shifts start to finish. Again I had intended to stay on after seeding, but, as no overtime was paid we got time off in lieu. With this work you’re bottom of the food chain and earn a pittance – but great experience, learning continually.
I decided to take a trip to Perth, 10 hours away. Boss said to be back for Tuesday – he was as rough as a goat’s knee. On the way up, my Norton was having problems. I managed to get into a garage in a country town. They didn’t fix bikes! Towns, people and bikes at that time wasn’t a good mix. A young man pulled me aside and asked a few questions, promised me it would be good to go on Tuesday. So I pulled out my thumb and hitched to Perth. Lady Luck has to come along eventually and give me a choice.
While waiting by the road with a million friends trying to get into my facial orifices. A car stopped, three blokes and a shiela. A rough looking bunch and pissed too. “We can take you to Tambellup , mate, be a bit of a squeeze.” These four were returning home from a shearing run in South Australia and had a start-up next week around Tambellup. I gave them my story. “So you’re new too – funny accent. Job there if you want it in Tambellup.” I thought nothing of it - Shearing shed … you must be kidding!
By the time I got to see my Canadian mate in Perth, it was time to go back. Decided to stay an extra day, just ring the station to let them know. The lines are down often as was the case on trying to call. Stuff it. Let’s have another beer. Hitched back, picked up the bike in Ravensthorp as promised, good to go. Back to Duke of Orleans Station I met the Boss coming down the road from our huts. He wound down the window of the cruiser, no explanation asked, or greeting. “Pack your bags and fuck off!” I did actually get my own back on him many years later just by chance.
So what I did is ride to Tambellup. Saw the Shearing Contractor, he explained where the quarters were. “Grab a bed. We start Monday. Do you need any money to see you through? You’ll be on $20 a day. Normally weekends off.” I had just doubled my income with weekends off to boot. Couldn’t believe my luck. He had several small teams working out of town. All the shearers I worked with were ace guys. Jackeroo for 8 months and now a roustabout.
It was bloody hard work keeping the sheep penned up and pulling the fleeces away, then a quick sweep so they had a clean board to work on. In this first team were 2 Aussies, 2 Kiwis one of whom was a Maori. They were curious of my accent, where I’d come from etc. Generally I found country people not manipulated as much as city and more practical, so I opened up a little but still had to watch my Ps and Qs. With this Maori, he was actually my roommate.
One morning at smoko, just answering questions about problems confronting S.A. and Rhodesia I let rip! Reeves the Maori was just the other side of the wool bale I was leaning against. That evening I brought up the incident. What a great guy and he said, “If they are anything like our indigenous say what you like.” And just laughed. Next day he offered to teach me to shear. I found out he was very highly regarded in the industry and had a massive respect, well known by shearers and farmers alike.
Years later we bumped into each other way out from anywhere travelling in opposite directions in station country. I recognized his F100 as he recognised my sin bin. Had to stop have a chat. Well after a few hot beers we had to sleep it off by the road. Shearing runs come to an end but I wanted to stay in the industry.
Friends found not forgotten. I had learnt a lot on the skill of shearing, but it does take persistence and determination, it was difficult to find a contractor to take on a learner. As time went by working in many teams, skilled up, learning to keep the shearing gear at its best. Got to be a proficient and spent time in the middle northwest.
Station shearing was always my favourite. Put a good day in, wander across to the huts, have shower and then have a beer before tea. You could relax on the weekends. Towns if you could call them that could be several hours away.
On the Queensland stations used to spend much time on weekends shooting pigs. If you saw one, you’d shoot it, and all of a sudden the country is running because there is a pig under every bush. It was common to get mobs of well over 100 pigs. They would wait for a ewe to lamb and then go out and eat it. Lambing rates at one time were well under 25%, not that station lambing rates were fantastic. It wasn’t uncommon for owners to have to hire choppers to shoot pigs. Some towns’ people had big pig dogs and made a sport of pig sticking. Will not go into detail. Many dogs as well as people got seriously hurt. Plenty of people have ended up a tree, chased by a pig.
Some of the stations had big numbers of sheep, Thylungra Station had 60 000 head. They were done before Easter then another 25 000 wethers after, at the out station. My first time at Thylungra we had big rains, we were flooded out with all vehicles shifted to higher ground. Out of the 26 in the team, 6 were left in the quarters. We had plenty of food, not a problem, the water was flowing beneath the floorboards. You could have a shower but be knee deep in flowing water. As for a crap, grab the spade and paddle to high ground.
Not long after, sitting in The Quilpie Pub, a station owner looked in asking for available sober shearers. Lucky I hadn’t been in the Pub too long. He needed shearers at Mount Margret Station so three of us got in his a plane to fly to his station to help complete the shearing with another seven already there. His story was interesting. At Eromanga, called the forgotten corner as they had a dry spell for 11 years, he had purchased 2 stations of over 2 million acres for 25 cents an acre 3 years prior. The previous year also had heavy rains when the 11 year drought broke. We were there for several weeks. In that time roads had time to dry, so out comes the Australian Workers’ Union organgrinder. As most of us were from other states he was not a welcome visitor as he had come to force us to buy union tickets … we managed to hide a couple of roustabouts, to save them a little. Anyway, he tells us union stories but no one has any interest. Of course we have to feed him, stays the night. Has his breakfast, jumps in his union car and we wave him good bye with lots of smiles.
The road is dusty, badly corrugated, just a long hot road back to Charleville. He got lucky he had two canvas water bags strapped to his roo bar. The fact some guys changed the contents using a funnel and not so original thinking, he would not be so lucky. We all had a good chuckle. The Station owner thought it was hilarious. But most Eastern state shearers were very strong with the union, and when you consider the history of the industry it is for very good reasons.
The life I had as a shearer was dynamic, certainly not great on social life, but as one got paid per head you pushed yourself. But it’s better than that, there is always the banter who can shear so many in a mob of sheep.
Merinos are very wrinkly and vary from mob to mob depending on dust, season, management, strain and temperature at time of shearing. Just so many variables. Generally shearing is easier in the hot weather as the machine enters the wool better, but unless the machine is kept in the wool the handpiece gets red hot. It was not unusual to have hands and fingers all blistered.
Competition amongst shearers is always fierce. I never had problems getting a pen (ie job as a shearer) even though I was of a slight build. My working weight was 63kgs wringing wet. The bigger guys who were full of themselves were put on notice. Tally wise, not always top numbers in a team, but always pushing the fast guys so they had to look over their shoulder.
But to give credit where credit is due, myself and another West Aussie were finishing up a run out St. George (Queensland). The contractor found three other shearers as some of our team had left to head back to W.A. With only 6 or 7 days before we drove home these three were the best I’ve seen or shorn with. The two of us were up to 180 per day each. These three were hitting 280-300 each and doing it easy. They were two brothers and one other from one of the shearing families in Victoria. The really sad part was their attitude to other people around. Normally shearers are a friendly bunch, when sober anyway.
Doing Station shearing I was bumming rides so a car was required. Maybe … get a license first. Never had a license at Gwebi as I didn’t have a car to take the test, my Father’s car was a wreck and didn’t have the money. I only managed to get a bike license by telling a few honest lies to the country cop in a W.A. town. A copper in Charliville police station said I needed a car to take the test. I said I had a motorcycle license. “Ok,” he said, “I’ll write out a license out for car and bike.” No Problems.
My first car a Green Holden Sin Bin. It lasted 22 years, first five years hardly saw a bitumen road except for the odd trip to Brisbane. I needed a good roo bar up front. I hit over 30 roos, 11 in one night. That was pretty nerve wracking.
Better stop the rambling, fantastic life. Had some good penning dogs and used to get offered big $$ for them. Depending on the time of day, where the sun is throwing shadows it can be hard to move sheep in and around shearing sheds and yards. One dog will do the job of 6 people yelling and waving arms around, and abusing each other. One farmer calls the sheep yards, the divorce courts when his wife helps him. It is always comical to watch but don’t let the owner see you laughing. It gives great satisfaction to watch good dogs working well.
I have so many stories of shearing days. Just cannot get it all down.
During the latter years, living mostly in W.A., I needed to get my Mother out to Australia, Zimbabwe was no place for a single old chook. Decided I may have to buy a house so better find some money. Bank couldn’t lend me too much, as Contract workers are regarded unreliable and Shearers not perceived well. Ended up buying wrong side of the tracks so to speak. Typically took a while to get Mother a visa, she arrived two years later. In between time my good mate Jimmy Jeans and family arrived not long after I bought the house. It was empty most of the time … “So Jimmy, make yourself at Home.”
In ’87 a good mate Malcolm and I decided to head to the U.S.A. to do a season in Utah and Montana. He had been over 4 years prior. We had to go through the hoops to get a visa. We were flying Sydney, Hawaii, L.A. I was returning home after the work finished, but Mal was continuing to Wales to work there. Hawaii airport was the entry to U.S.A., we were denied access, put under house arrest, locked in a motel room with a security guard on each of us. One being really amicable, big black guy, a bit like ‘Odd Job’ famous in Gold Finger. The other a Maori, who’d just got his green card through marriage. They made sure we were buckled in our seats for the return home. Mal protesting his flight should be to the U.K. Our passports returned with a big cross through the U.S. visa.
The following year I headed off to Ireland via Moscow as I’d heard sheep numbers in the E.U. were increasing rapidly. So with a few tools I landed in Ireland, contacted a farm relief company, said what I was about and just made their day! Oodles of work, prepared to pay a pittance. Took a couple of jobs.
Then two Paddy shearers rocked up, hearing about the Aussie shearer. Obviously they were being undercut and didn’t like it. But they’d never seen sheep shorn so fast. I had the skill, style and gear to cut well. I also had a grinder to sharpen combs and cutters with my gear. We agreed to have a Guinness later. After many more Guinnesses, we came to an agreement. They would organise good work for me, charge the going rate and in return I’d keep their gear in good working order. It worked well. The season was only good for 7-8 weeks depending on the rain.
Between us we got the money together for a local design fabricator to build a mobile rig for shearing. There are many in the U.K.
The following year they greeted me with this great rig which worked really well. These two, Paddy and Seamus (yes that’s right) adopted the Aussie standard way in shearing which was faster, and they certainly pushed me along.
Organising the Irish farmers was one of the biggest obstacles. They may only have 25-200 sheep in most cases, but fetching them in was generally funny or frustrating. They’d nearly have them corralled then one would climb over a stone wall and be gone with 199 behind it and everyone blaming everyone else.
All in all the Irish were great to work with. If it looked like hard work was on the way, the farmer would say, “Time for a cup of tea lads.” After several minutes of small chat, you’d want to get back to it and the farmer would refill your cups again and say, “You canna be working with a full cup of tea.” I managed 5 seasons in Ireland and it was great craic!
Paddy came out to Aus and did a shearing run around the south-west of W.A. for 3 months. He did exceptionally well from shearing 49 a day to 160+ a day. He came back again 3 years later for more punishment. After his first two hour stint, he commented that we were lucky he came, because he’d forgotten how hard it was to work on merinos. His language was in the Irish fashion more colourful than that.
I spent 6 months shearing in New Zealand, a different ball game to Australia in many ways. Basically the sheep are much heavier, no wrinkles, not so much wool on the points, except for the Romney. They have a sheep called the Perrindale, easy shearing, not too big. Thought I could get a big number here. Reality was, spent half my time chasing these mother lovers round the shed with half the fleece dragging behind them and the rest of the team thinking it was hilarious and giving the sheep encouragement. Some of the N.Z. scenery is out of my world - but it gets cold. I have ended up with many kiwi friends over the years. Pakiah, Maori or part Maori, unfortunately no full bloods left.
Going back to 1980 I went back to Rhodesia to convince the Old Queen to come out to Aus. I also caught up with Rob Marshall and wife Val, and briefly with Ian Hosking and wife. It seemed everyone was positive to some degree for the future! My mate Jimmy Jeans and Chris his wife, in Bulawayo, not so positive with a little girl starting school and not being able to afford private education. Chris thought I was a loud mouthed Aussie. Anyway I tried to convince them to get to Aus. Jimmy’s skill at that time was sought after. If ever there was a person who hated leaving Africa it was Jim and it took him a long time to settle. He had done so many call-ups and was sad for a long time.
Rob and Val Marshall arrived in Aus about 10 years ago and are living in country Victoria. Typically, their kids are spread out, but that is their story.
Falling off horses and steers at rodeos and bending over sheep finally took its toll on the back. Like many shearers I know where the nearest chiropractor office or home is. “Fix me up, I have to get back to the shed!” But, not now I have a 15% disability. Still head to the chiro every 6 weeks and can’t remember last doctor I saw as I got into alternative medicine and that is my choice. Probably shearing for the export market didn’t help, they were continually big sheep for the Middle East. The worst of it being they weren’t given time to empty their guts, which made them uncomfortable when shorn, so it was a bigger strain.
Got married aged 44. My lady has two kids, now young adults. They are very OK, likeable, sporty and making their own lives.
When I quit shearing the sheep numbers had plummeted in the last two decades from 185 000 000 to 65 000 000. Big mobs were few and far between, so even to get work with a couple of working dogs wouldn’t be great.
I got into the courier business and it keeps me busy, I have worked for some major companies. Have found many Zimbos and Yarpies as well in the industry. Used to think sheep didn’t have much of a brain, till I see some fancy driving here on the streets of Perth.
Had a Courier Franchise, all keen and excited and only through experience you find what most franchises are about. My wife took a year out from teaching to come on the road operating two vans. It taught her a lesson in Free Enterprise. Still couriering, but have plans to retire at the end of the year.
But, over the years of shearing there are no paid holidays, sick pay or superannuation as is with most workplaces in Australia. So I had put money into residential property. As the values grew the banks more than willing to lend more so was tempted to buy more. By then I had five houses growing in value with retirement looking good. We bought a sixth one…… a month later the G.F.C. (Great Fucking Collapse). Just watched property values plummet. Anyway that’s life.
I have to tell my wife to be grateful, there are people who would readily swap our position. Robyn is, by the way, an offspring of the first settlers and still has scars from the ball and chain.
I have had an amazing life in shearing teams. Certainly as a courier I love the interaction with the people I meet. As I found Australian politics so liberal, I have been compelled to join what are termed minor parties. Shearing in Queensland gave a great insight into running and manipulation of unions. The media here only tells the truth when it comes to sport. They cannot even get the weather right.
I have been here 45 years now and the regulation is scary. I did have a lovely Russian friend stay with me many years ago, and even she commented then on the amount of regulation.
At the time of writing this we are being devastated by forest fires on the East Coast. The firefighters see animals in pain hopping around, they cannot even have a rifle to shoot the animal – it is left in agony. Also the same for livestock. Lefty gun laws, good for nothing. Don’t get me started.
Ian Robert Hosking. Deceased.
Here is how his good friend Rob Marshall remembers him. ‘Ian and I were mates after Gwebi and National Service.
I was working on a farm in Concession and Ian would often visit over the weekends. He soon had my domestic, William, trained that as soon as he arrived he would be met by William with a tray with beer glass, family size Coke and a bottle of brandy to start off a bachelor weekend! This was a really good laugh when he visited the first time after I was married!
Ian worked in Shamva for the Whaleys but after he had been shot in the ankle on call up he joined the Government at Research & Specialist Services in seed production research. He married Jan in December 1978 after meeting her in the ‘mess’ that she was sharing with his sister. Jan continues the story:
“During one visit they we heard of a farm manager’s job going with Noel Crawford (Course 7) on Thrums and Hickling Farm and went for an interview. We were offered the job and moved to Hickling Farm in September 1979.
"Ian was so happy to be back farming. Hickling was fully irrigable and the crops were magnificent. I took a little longer to settle in as in 1979 we were still in the bush war and living behind electrified fences and carrying a weapon was a little frightening at first. However I soon made great friends and the Glendale Community was hard to beat.
"Unfortunately at the end of 1981 Ian’s Hodgkins disease returned and he once again had to begin chemotherapy treatment. Ian was a committed Christian and never once complained of his pain or the treatment. By September 1982 Ian could no longer manage to work full time. I had been working for a couple of years as a bookkeeper for Roy (Course 9) and Pam Guthrie on Avonduur Farm Glendale. Roy offered Ian the job of manager on Avonduur when he was well enough and when not – Roy would take over.
"We moved to Avonduur in September 1982 where Ian managed to work till July 1983. We remained on the farm and I continued to do the books and help in the butchery. Every morning Roy had the farm manager – Howie Southie – report to Ian and keep him up to date on the running of the farm. Ian died on 2nd September, 1983 at the age of 32.
"Ian died too early but loved and laughed a lot. Because he was a strong Christian he was not afraid to die but enjoyed every day. He enjoyed the simple things in life like fishing, camping at Mana Pools and a braai with mates on a Sunday afternoon. He taught me a great love for the land and that when treated well it would produce crops beyond your wildest dreams. He taught me such a love of the land that a few years later I returned to Glendale and to Avonduur and married another farmer.”
Alan Nicholas Hurry was born in Salisbury in 1944 but grew up in the small town of Shabani where we moved to in 1950. All my spare time was spent fishing and shooting in the surrounding bush and farms. We were free to go as we pleased in complete safety ... it was a great life. I went to Shabani Primary School and then followed my two older brothers as a boarder to Prince Edward School in Salisbury.
On leaving school I went to Natal University in Pietermaritzburg to do BSc Agric, which I failed halfway through, stupidly messing around. While there I managed a small goat farm at Ashburton, 10 kms out on the Durban road. Another Rhodesian student at Maritzburg , Doug Cunningham, was a real bushman who arrived with his camping kit packed into his open SWB Land Rover and rather than live in town, he pitched his tent in the bush on the farm. We spent too much time away from lectures and both failed our exams at the end of 1967. I had already decided I would rather be farming, so went back to look for a farm job in Rhodesia. The problem was that I was now due to be called up for National Service which went against getting permanent employment, so as a stop gap I joined Conex and was posted to Zaka in Ndanga TTL as an Extension Officer. The Government had decided it would be a good idea to get the TTL farmers to contour their lands to curb the bad erosion that was taking place. The three of us in Zaka were tasked with training peggers, visiting the kraals and trying to show them how to dig contours and fill dongas.
I was called up in August 1968 and went in with Intake 98 at School of Infantry in Gwelo, along with four members of Gwebi C 18. Nine of us were commissioned, and I was posted to Supply and Transport at Llewellin Barracks. Meanwhile, Doug Cunningham had got a job in Lobatse, Botswana with Cyril Hurwitz, who owned farms in South Africa and Rhodesia as well. Doug was due to be transferred to a ranch at Ghanzi, way out in the Kalahari and suggested I take his place on Lobatse Estates, which I did. We had hopes of starting a hunting business in Botswana but it never got off the ground. Botswana had attained independence in 1966 and I wanted to get back to Rhodesia.
It seemed like a good idea to get a Gwebi diploma with its good reputation, so I enrolled with C22. In the first year I was on the Student Committee as dogsbody (Secretary), along with Donald Goddard and Quinton Haarhoff, Andy Samuels being chairman. In second year I was happy that Rex Ade was elected Student Chairman. Two things influenced my time at Gwebi ----- firstly, having done two years of BSc Agric the academic side was familiar stuff, and secondly, as I was paying my own way I needed to work at getting a bursary, which I did get, along with some other prizes, and just beating John Tayler for the award for ‘Best All Round Student For Second Year.’
As a by the way, I started losing my hearing from an early age, which I covered up during the Army, but after leaving Gwebi it got to the stage of having to get a hearing aid. I was discharged from the Army and rejected by PATU and spent the rest of the war in Police Reserve.
On leaving Gwebi I got a job managing Wanganui ranch in Battlefields for Salvo Capelluto, an ex tobacco farmer from Centenary then living in Salisbury. The ranch was nicely situated in the bush in the fork of the Ngesi and Umniati rivers, with access through a drift in the Ngesi , and without ESC. We started an irrigated Star grass pasture scheme using diesel engines, to try and improve the viability of the place. While I enjoyed being in the bush, I was single and it got a bit too isolated, especially when the river rose and the drift was impassable. It seemed like a better future to go crop farming instead.
In 1974 I got a job managing Alamein farm in Beatrice for Dick Ternouth, who had accepted a research post at Kutsaga. After four years on Alamein I applied for the AFC’s Tenant Farming Scheme, and leased Mickey Lamb’s Farm, Maasplein, also in Beatrice to do tobacco. After the 1980 election Mickey said to me that if I wanted to pack up he quite understood ... he was going to America. I decided South Africa would be the best bet as my family were already down there, so sold up and for the time being before I left, got a job with AFC as a farm inspector, being posted to Marandellas. In 1982 I married Denise Everitt and we had our first daughter there.
My brother Richard had a construction company in Johannesburg, and suggested that if I could find a farm in South Africa for within R250, 000 he would buy it and I could run it. In 1984 I had a look round and found an 85 ha citrus farm in Karino, outside Nelspruit, which we moved to in April 1984. I pulled out the citrus trees and put in tobacco, winter vegetables and herbs. My second daughter and my son were born in Nelspruit but Denise lost her brave battle with cancer in 2005. My three kids completed university and have now left South Africa.
In 2010 I got engaged to Priscilla, the widow of an ex Rhodesian farmer who had been shockingly murdered in South Africa by land claimants at an arranged meeting on the farm he had just started work on in Natal, in 2007. This after he had gone through the whole Rhodesian war and being wounded in action with PATU. Priscilla had very capably managed their tobacco farm in Rhodesia while her husband was on call-ups, and was the inspiration for John Edmond’s song, ‘Rhodie Girl’. I was a very lucky guy.
We carried on in Karino, but the thieving of equipment and crops was getting worse and worse, along with the increasing costs and the uncertainty of expropriation. In 2014 we decided to pack up while the going was good. It took another two years to get a genuine buyer - a black businessman who wanted to put in housing, having enough sense not to try farming. It seemed a good idea to move to a wildlife estate so we bought a vacant stand in Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate and ordered a steel roof from Megastructures in Johannesburg, the idea being to build a house under it, while renting a house nearby. However, we didn’t like the estate with all its regulations and objections to our house plan so I sold the stand. We then found an abandoned Dutch Reformed Church in Kampersrus at the base of the Berg on an attractive 2 ha stand. We made a down payment and converted it into a home, using a black builder. Priscilla had started a branch of ‘Care Buddies’ in Hoedspruit so we decided to split the roof in half and build two blocks of frail care rooms. Having put in the foundations we were then informed that Megastructures had gone broke and dropped off the radar, together with our R110 000 payment. Certain other expectations also failed to materialise. With the court case that followed we had been assured by the lawyers we would win damages from the company was torpedoed by lies and deceit from the defendants - par for the course these days.
After ten years together, Priscilla and I decided on an amicable separation for awhile, to see how things would go. In Feb 2020 I moved to a rented cottage in an estate in the hills outside Sabie where I was caught in the lockdown at the end of March. That brings me up to date in July, waiting and seeing where we are all going to end up.
Michael Benatar Lewin. Deceased. Mike was born on the 1st November, 1951 in Salisbury, Rhodesia. His father was Solomon Benatar and his mother was Margaret (Cohen) Lewin . He had a step mother Laureen Benatar and step father John Lewin. He was the oldest of a brother and a sister, two half brothers, four step brothers and three half sisters. He went to Mount Pleasant School before College. (His biological father was Solomon Benatar and his step father was John Lewin so you will notice that Mike had two different interchangeable surnames.)
In 1972 Michael Benatar graduated from Gwebi College of Agriculture. Mike managed and ran numerous farms in Rhodesia from 1972 to 1981. Windy Ridge and Ballamona were two farms he helped run. He ran Nijo which was one of the top producing farms in the country. This farm was also a top exporter of produce to Europe. On the farm some of the types of crops grown were onions, carrots, cabbage, wheat, tomatoes, potatoes and maize. Nijo produced almost 25 tons daily of quality top graded products.
In 1974 Mike married Tiki Pearce and continued to pursue his love and knack for farming. A family was the next step for Mike and in 1975 his first daughter, Michelle, was born. Only three short years later on a vacation to America, Monique would be born prematurely. With a drastically changing country and government, Mike had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave Africa the land he loved and knew for the safety of his family.
In 1982, Mike and his young family moved to Dallas, Texas. For a brief time he worked on a farm in McKinney. But, soon after he joined his father, Sol, in the video world. Working alongside his dad at Video Post and Transfer and then Soljay, Mike took over Soljay in 1984. And so his endeavor to create a respected Video production company alongside Tiki began.
At the height of Soljay's success there were 6 mobile video production trucks. Some of the events and contracts they had and shot were the Olympic Games, various MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA games. He also shot numerous press junkets for stars Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Bon Jovi among others.
In 1996, Mike’s first grandchild, Austin, was born. He was the light of Mike's life. He continued to grow the company and make a name for himself as his family again grew. The birth of his granddaughter, Abigail, in 2000 truly paved the way to making Mike the best grandpa. He enjoyed playing the piano and guitar, fishing, and spending time with his family. He loved the beach. He enjoyed watching his grandson play hockey and soccer and his granddaughter do karate and make art.
In, 2011, Mike decided to close the doors of a company he had worked tirelessly to build due to health complications of being diabetic for 42 years. At the young age of 63, Michael passed away on August 26, 2014. His love and commitment to his family, passion for farming, and love of Africa will always be remembered. His memories, spirit, and joy live on in those who loved and knew him. He is missed by many and will never be forgotten by those whose lives he touched and changed.
Stuart William Lindsay was born on the 3rd May, 1951 in Escourt, Natal, South Africa. My parents, Bill and Tony Lindsay, decided we should move to the Lowveld in Rhodesia and along with my sister Megan, grew up at Triangle Sugar Estates and I attended Fort Victoria Junior and Senior Schools.
After I graduated from Gwebi I was called up to Llewellin Barracks where I was chosen for leadership training at the School of Infantry in Gwelo where I passed out as a Sergeant. I was based in Wankie for the rest of my nine months call up.
My first job after the Army was at Old Umtali and Penhalonga with Brigadier Hingeston growing cotton, wheat and granadillas. During that time I did a Tracker Combat Course and then joined PATU.
I then moved to Forrester Estate as an assistant to Mike Patterson on Forrester I Section. When he left after a few months I became the Section Manager. I was the youngest Section Manager ever at Forrester Estate. I grew wheat, maize and soya beans. The other sections were all tobacco sections. In those days the management at Forrester awarded a ‘Blue Ribbon’ for the section making the most profit which I won several times – back then tobacco was in a slump.
At Zimbabwe’s Independence I bought two farms Elgin and Four Streams in Umvukwes in partnership with Ross Robertson. We eventually split up with Ross taking over Four Streams and I remained on Elgin. On Elgin I started growing flowers for export and became one of the founding members of the Horticultural Promotional Council. I was one of the first flower growers to supply the Dutch Flower Market with Chrysanthemums, Asters and greenery. I then sold Elgin and moved to Blighty at M’Sonneddi. I always had an ambition to develop a farm with very little development. On Blighty I set up a tobacco and seed maize infrastructure as well as breeding cattle and sheep.
I was very much involved in the farm security of Umvukwes which was to my detriment as I was targeted when the land grab started.
We left Zimbabwe in November 2001 and started a vegetable growing and marketing company in Mooi River Natal. We leased land from a family member and remained there until he sold the farm to retire. We then moved to the Baynesfield area in Natal and worked for a vegetable farmer for five years until that farm was also sold.
I then moved on into consultancy work in the KZN area specialising in Regenerative Agriculture – something I have always been interested in and am still doing today. My first marriage was to Audrey Hanekom and we had two children, Caroline and Paul. I am now married to Sonia Johns. I spend my leisure time fishing, birding and gardening using natural products.
National Service loomed large and not long after completing our Gwebi training we boarded the train at Salisbury Station. Not too daunting as we were a fair size contingent from Gwebi and had been together for the past two years. We duly arrived at Heany Junction, fairly under the weather, and then the shit hit the fan! It was dark and we were blinded by lorry headlights and screaming corporals yelling at us to grab our kit and embus. All remains a blur arriving at Llewellin etc. My next recollection was us all being assembled in a large building and being addressed by Colonel Thomson. Prior to embarking on national service, some of our second year students who had done theirs, told us to volunteer for the Engineers. ‘’You get to drive boats up and down the Zambezi and do guard duty at Pomona and see the bright lights of Salisbury”.
Most of us had therefore decided to volunteer for the Engineers. After his welcoming address Colonel Thompson then called volunteers for officer selection to move to the left side of the hall. There wasn’t much movement to the left, bar a dozen or so non Gwebians. He was not impressed and came marching down the aisle. “Hands up those from Gwebi.” We all sheepishly raised our hands, all on the right side of the aisle! Steve Pope was unfortunately seated beside the aisle and was the recipient of the Colonel’s wrath. “What’s wrong with you, what do you want to do?” he yelled at Steve. ’’I want to join the Engineers”, Steve whimpered. Whilst he berated Steve and told him what a wanker he was the rest of us brave souls moved swiftly to join the volunteers! Subsequently after the selection course to go on officers training at School of Infantry a squad of 16 were chosen, 11 from Gwebi and 5 others! We duly left for Gwelo with Strippy Goddard in the front of the Bedford and the rest of us under a tarpaulin in the back. At the main gate the guard, a national serviceman, was told to let us through as we were officers on our way to Gwelo, Strippy was duly saluted and returned a poor imitation of an American salute.
School of Infantry was hard but what an experience with most of us ex Gwebi already bonded and an incredible team spirit. Who can forget Margesson marching across the parade square with his one puttee slowly unravelling and the Sgt. Major (Collier if I’m not mistaken?) screaming at him, puce in the face, whilst we battled to suppress our laughter. At the end of the course, six guys were commissioned, five of us from Gwebi; Strippy “Gotch” Goddard, Steve Smythe, Quentin Haarhoff, Rod Collet and yours truly (a huge mistake!)
After National Service in 1973, I had no idea where I was heading. Quite by chance the Rhodesian Milling Company representative (Bob Henderson – his daughter was married to the late Dave Carshalton) was visiting the farm and asked me if I would like to apply for his job..... Company car, expense account, stay in hotels at the Company’s expense, sounded like fun although I had very little interest in going around selling stock feeds! I duly got the job based in Umtali and began my “sales” career. My boss told me on my first morning to wear a safari suit to work. I did not have one, so duly went out and spent my meagre savings on a powder blue number. My job began with Bob driving me around to meet his customers in the company Peugeot station wagon – not exactly my idea of a young man’s car. We arrived at a farm in Odzi, the house was on the top of a hill. The farmer wanted us to go to the stables with him which was at the bottom of the hill. I volunteered to jump onto the back of his pickup and off we drove. Two enormous Great Danes ran alongside the pickup barking as they looked down on me. I took my eyes off them for a second and before I knew it I was tumbling in the dust! One had playfully grabbed me by my safari suit and we had landed in a heap on the road. The pickup meanwhile had continued to the stables oblivious of my predicament! The dogs ran off following the pickup and my new safari suit hung in tatters.
My boss at Rhomil took on a new secretary not long after, just as I was leaving for an army call up. I asked her if she would come out on a date when I got back and so began my life with my future wife Sandie. I was transferred to run the Rusape branch of Rhomil. Sandie and I became engaged and my father offered me a job on the family farm in Rusape. I left Rhomil at the end of 1974 and began work for my Father on 1st January 1975. Sandie and I were married in February. My salary remained the same for four years and we were often penniless. Sandie began work in Rusape to supplement our income and drove to town each morning, this was when the “bush war” was now hotting up. The only good thing about army call ups was that my army pay was more than my farm pay – no pay whilst on call up.
After four years I began to look for a farm to lease and was fortunate to find one in the Rusape area. Valhalla farm belonged to Pete Bassett but he had decided to retire as his homestead had been burnt down and he’d lost everything. On 1st July, 1979, Sandie and I moved to Valhalla with a dog, 20 sheep, a second hand Yamaha 125 cc with no exhaust, Peugeot 404 car and a loan from the A.F.C. I still had my job to complete on my Father’s farm so rode the 12 miles over there on my Yamaha every morning. My neighbours said they could hear me from miles away heading off in the morning and that the Gooks could too. Pete Bassett in the meantime would come out from Rusape each day to complete grading his tobacco. He was ultimately ambushed and murdered in August on his way out to the farm. In November we had our tobacco crop destroyed overnight, chopped out by gooks. What a start to farming!
We enjoyed a wonderful 34 years on Valhalla and had three sons. I retired at the beginning of 2008 and my eldest son began leasing from me. When I look back, those years of retirement with 3 grandchildren to amuse were truly halcyon days. I had inherited my Grand Father’s farm (our family farm Morkonyora) in 1990 but lost it in 2003 as part of the land reform programme – one man, one farm. We were assured by the Admin. Court that if we gave up Morkonyora we would be left alone on Valhalla ...?! As with everybody else we eventually lost Valhalla in December 2013.
Fortunately we had a flat in Harare and moved off the farm into town in the clothes we had on. We were given permission to return to our house on the farm for two hours a couple of days before Christmas to collect some kit and the kids and grand childrens’ Christmas presents. The house was pretty intact although it had been broken into and some stuff stolen.
Living in Harare to begin with was strange but peaceful. No more mobs at the gate, cars hooting, etc., but as with all, the funds began to dwindle as well as Tetrad doing a wheels up with what savings we had.
I then got a job working for Tianze, a Chinese tobacco contractor, going around farms advising their clients on how to grow tobacco. On my first day at work I developed severe pain in my stomach and when I got home that evening was rushed to hospital with appendicitis! After the op, a few complications and six weeks in bed I thought end of job, no, they paid me and let me back! The work was soul destroying travelling from farm to farm, witnessing the destruction by the “new farmer“ of years of toil. When I explained to my Chinese Boss that the stress would kill me, he said it was ok to move on as he didn’t want me dying on his hands!
Very fortunately I immediately got a job working for William Bain as branch manager in Marondera. Back to my “sales“ career now selling New Holland tractors and the tried and tested Bain farm equipment which I’m sure most ex-Zimbabwean farmers will agree was robust and built for purpose. So much of it is still lying around on farms rusted and neglected. After four years of sitting at a desk and travelling around farms I began to get somewhat pissed off.
My son had managed to lease a farm in the Rusape area and asked if I would like to go out and run it. I jumped at the idea so in April 2018 I returned farming!! My wife in the meantime was working at Peterhouse School in Marondera so I went to the farm and she commuted at weekends down to the farm. We had never been apart in 43 years together and this was not fun. Farming was so different from when I farmed and it has been difficult to adjust having stopped actively farming some 12 years previously. Sandie gave up work at Peterhouse and joined me on the farm. Resurrecting a once magnificent farm which has been all but destroyed is not for us old guys, the labour issues and output is also not for us older guys, what the hell are we doing?
I now wash my hands every hour, breathe as little as possible and try to communicate from two metres away with a face mask! What lies ahead after Covid 19 remains to be seen.
Graham Gordon McSkimmings. Coming from Zambia Graham had no commitment to undergo military training in Rhodesia so after graduating he decided to travel to England where he met up with his old Gwebi friends Bruce Hobson, and later John Thorn and John Steel. In 1973 they worked for an agricultural contractor by the name of Geoff Pond in Hampshire. The four of them, and Bruce’s girlfriend Legri, rented a house for the duration of the contract.
At the end of 1974 Stowe Philp, C21, had just started to put together his yacht project refurbishing a sailing boat called ‘Bethsheeba’ to sail from Southampton to the Cape. Graham was one of his crew and was studying to be the navigator. This project came to a halt when Stowe was put under pressure to return home to the family farm in Barwick.
Graham then found a place on a yacht with a couple sailing to South Africa. When they were off the west coast of Africa they were hit by a vicious storm and were marooned, losing everything but their lives. They were all repatriated back to the UK. It is understood that Graham later made his way to Argentina to teach.
Some years later, he was teaching English in Mexico and then went on to become an interpreter. He had attended Fundación Universidad de las Américas, Puebla in Mexico and there are advertisements for his services as a translator for legal, technical, government, archaeology, economics, etc.
Peter Jeremy Hampden Margesson was born in Salisbury on 16th September 1951, the eldest of two younger sisters and brother.
I attended REPS Junior School in the Matopos in Matabeleland from 1959 to 1963 and then onto Umtali Boys High School from 1964 to 1969.
I enrolled at Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 22 from 1970 to 1972 and afterwards fulfilled my military commitment, firstly at the School of Infantry in Gwelo, and thereafter at Wankie with 1 Independent Company.
After the Army I worked as the Farm Manager for John Stables and Rob Davenport, both C10, at Inyanga on the Mozambique border growing seed potatoes from 1973 to 1974.
Then I was the Agronomist for the Rhodesia Fertilizer Corporation in Marandellas for three years.
In 1977 I took off and backpacked, working my way around the world for six years and then returned to Africa in 1983 and was employed by the Farmers Weekly as a Photo Journalist based in Queenstown, Eastern Province until 1986.
I then made the decision to move to America where I settled in Half Moon Bay, California and owned a landscape company.
In 1998 I moved from the States to Belize in Central America where I returned to farming and owned a butchery and restaurant but after twenty years retired and handed over all my business operations to my son in January 2018.
Robin Hugh Marshall was born in Bulawayo and grew up at Matopos, my Dad was warden of the Rhodes Matopo Estate, later National Park and went to REPS junior school, then Milton. When Dad retired we moved to a farm at Nyamandhlovu. I have an older brother, Brian and sister Helen.
After completing the Gwebi course in 1972 I did national service intake 126 Rhodesia Regiment starting July 27th 1972 and had the privilege of having Jock Hutton as Company CSM. Jock was a tough little Scotsman, ultra fit, who believed that any infringement could be cured by running you ragged, but he was very fair and looked out for his men. On the 7th of June 2014 my attention was drawn to a TV news item that as part of the 70th D-Day anniversary an 89 year old paratrooper had parachuted into Normandy recreating the jump he did 70 years earlier, the clip showed Jock parachuting, marching and saluting Prince Charles, as fit as ever!
Thereafter I worked as a farm manager for: Alec Kerr (Concession) – Les Edwards (Enterprise) – Douglas Lyon (Glendale) - Paddy Millar (Glendale) – Peter Marchussen (Doma).
In 1990 we bought Pearson Farm in Mazowe which we enjoyed farming and developing until 2001 when we were evicted as part of the “Land Reform programme.” During this period I served as Chairman of the Upper Mazowe River board, Mazowe Concession Farmers Association, Vice Chairman of the Mashonaland Central CFU branch and as the Commercial Farmers rep. on the Mining Affairs Board. A highlight was the resolution to CFU Congress with regard to mining on farms which was adopted as part of the new environmental act, unfortunately this was overtaken by the “land reform” programme.
I then was employed by Eastern Highlands Plantations (EHPL) producing Tea in the Honde Valley, initially as G.M. South and later as G.M. Engineering. In this position I was tasked with mechanising the harvesting and pruning of the crop as with the deteriorating economic situation labour was no longer plentiful. As part of this exercise I went to Australia taking part with Williames Ltd. developing a tea harvesting machine, when Geoff Williames heard that I planned to move to Australia he suggested joining the organisation, this has been very interesting involving working for considerable periods in India and testing a machine that mimics hand plucking as against cutting the plant material. While at EHPL we built a 1.4 megawatt hydro-electric scheme which I was very involved with and enjoyed the civil works.
On a college tour to Henderson Research Station I spotted a vintage car body and was keen to have a closer look. I didn’t have a car so I persuaded Barry Hodnett to take me to the wreck on the weekend, Barry had an unlicensed Matchless 500 single and he did not have a driver’s or bike licence, never the less we set off with me hoping that this may be a Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza or even the fabled Mercedes of the Portuguese governor of Mozambique and Barry hoping that we would not encounter the Police! There was not much left of the car, so we decided to go to the farm house and find out more. We arrived at the house and were having second thoughts when a young girl, Val Bayley, arrived in a Datsun 1200, we told her our story and she said to talk to her Dad. Chatting to Val I must admit that my mind deviated somewhat from the old wreck in the bush! We spoke to her Dad, Tom Bayley, and were told that it was only the car body that had been dumped on the farm. We made our way back to the College, avoiding the Police and, with some prodding from Barry, I got the courage to phone and ask Val out on a date, after all she had a car! We went out a few times and met up again a few years later after I had finished College and national service and we married in 1976, have three children and three grandchildren. An interest has always been cars, especially old cars, we brought our 1930 Model A Ford with us from Zimbabwe and have bought a 1984 FJ 40 Landcruiser in Australia. I am currently President of the West Gippsland Vehicle Restorers club in Warragul, Victoria.
Anthony Roy Miller was born in Fort Victoria on the 20th March, 1950 and had an older half brother and half-sister, Pete and Anne Halliday. I attended Fort Victoria Junior School and then onto Umtali Boys’ High School. We were brought up on our family’s farms near Fort Victoria.
Having decided to attend Gwebi I did my pre-College practical with John Burl and his son Alan at Marandellas.
After graduating in 1972 I fulfilled my military commitment with Intake 101 and then returned to the family’s farms, Lothian and Arkesden in the Victoria East ICA. Here we grew irrigated wheat, maize and paprika as well as planting dryland sorghum and soya maize silage. Our livestock was a 100 sow pig unit plus +/- 250 breeding cows with followers. We fed the steers with silage/maize or sorghum home mix.
I served on several of the Masvingo East Farming Associations committees including the ‘Cereals, Grains and Oilseeds’ representing them at the CFU and served as Chairman for four years.
We also built and ran a filling station and trading store on the junction of Mutare/Masvingo road and Harare/Chiredzi road as well as a second trading store in the rural Bikita area.
When the land invasions started our family’s claim to fame was that we were the first in the country to be illegally evicted by the infamous “Black Jesus”.
I moved into Masvingo and have taken on a new career as an agricultural consultant with various aid agencies including GIZ/GTZ which is the German Aid Agency, the European Union (EU) and the World Food Programme amongst others.
I am divorced with three adult children, Kirsten Fourie, Tara van der Riet and Blake Miller. I’m passionate about fishing and indulge in this pastime wherever and whenever I can.
Steven Thomas Barnes Pope. Deceased.
Steve was born on 12 February 1951 at the Lady Chancellor, Salisbury to Eric and Marjorie Pope, and was the eldest of a younger brother and sister, Charles and Janette. Although Steve’s parents lived on Furzen Farm, Karoi, where they grew tobacco and maize, Eric became one of five pioneer Kapenta fishermen on Lake Kariba in May 1977 along with Rob Beaton (C16).
Steve was educated at Karoi Junior School, moved to REPS and then onto Plumtree for his senior schooling and he grew up on the farm in Karoi.
After deciding to apply for Gwebi he did his one year practical on a farm down in Tengwe.
After graduating from College he fulfilled his military commitment and was ultimately posted with the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers based at Chirundu.
Steve then decided to become qualified as a commercial diver and he worked at Durban and Cape Town. He had married Dianne and Chessa was born in the Cape. Steve returned to Rhodesia in 1980 to join Skimmer Enterprises on Kariba where he was kapenta fishing with his father and Kris was born. In about 1982 he started his own safari business, Chipembere Safaris, in the Chitake area of Mana. Naldi came into his life and his second daughter, Suni, was born. Steve was passionate about wildlife, fishing, hiking, motorbikes and sailing.
Sadly Steve passed away from cancer in 2011 but Chessa says that he was an amazing man and a great father. His love of the bush has passed on to his family.
Brian Philip John Richardson was born in Nyasaland as it was then in 1951, believe it or not, in a wooden hut. Mum and Dad both worked on the Railways. My Primary School was Saint Andrew’s in Blantyre. I lived in Limbe in these early years. I remember when the Emergency was on we had to have Armoured Cars either side of the bus when we went to school. A large contingent of the Rhodesian soldiers were billeted on the Railways, not far from our house and we used to sneak out to try and say hello to them.
I went to St. Stephen’s College at Balla Balla for Forms 1 to 4 and then for Lower and Upper Sixth I went to Sixth Form College in Bulawayo with the well known Reg Cowper as Principal. He was Rhodesian Boxing champ at one stage and I was unfortunate enough, with Mike (Marley) Paynter from Zambia, to get six of the best from him. I was sore for weeks. There were numerous kids at both schools from Zambia and Malawi.
My pre-Gwebi training was with Erick and Peggy Palmer at Norton, farming mainly Tobacco and Cattle. On enrolling at Gwebi I was unfortunately selected to wear ‘The Hat’ as Gwebi Fat Boy. You should have seen the size of the two I selected the following year! I was affectionately known as “Galoob”, the Total Man for Oil.
When I left College I was supposed to be on my way to Canada, but they messed up my application so I decided to stay in the UK for two years, where I worked on a large Pig Farm in Oxford for the first year, and then a year on the Borders of Scotland, on a large Galloway cattle and Dorper sheep Farm.
I then very fortunately got a job as a Farm Manager back in Malawi for seven years. It was a large farm on a Tea Estate near Thyolo. The reason for the farm was to make sure they retained the land. I had a large herd of Charbray cattle, a small Jersey herd for milk and large amounts of Maize to feed the workers. We also grew Tung and Coffee trees.
After most of the family emigrated to Australia, I followed in 1980. Within three weeks I had a job as a Rep for an Electric Fence Company called Daken. For two years I was able to see nearly all of Queensland and the Northern Rivers of NSW. There were large amounts of driving involved, but a great way to get to know the country and the people. It also proved to me I would never be a farmer as such in Australia.
Then I managed to get a job as Farm Management Instructor at the Burdekin Agricultural College in Far North Queensland. I did this for four years. Brought back great memories and it was good to be on the other side of the fence. Of course I was also the Rugby Team’s Coach.
Then, as the Principal put it, I joined the “Dark Side” and became a Public Servant for the next more than 30 years. I worked for the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) as a Farm Financial Counsellor. An unusual position and fairly new at the time. It was to help farmers in financial trouble dealing with banks, applying for subsidies and generally improving their farm management.
Since semi-retiring, as I put it, I work as an Invigilator at numerous Universities. It is well paid and keeps you young watching the students do not cheat. I can rack up 16 weeks casual work a year.
And the coup de grâce, I work each year as Santa at one of the big Shopping Centres here on the Gold Coast.
Well that’s me in a nutshell. Socially I still do a fair bit of sailing and I have also taken up Croquet. I am married to Jenny, no kids.
Timothy Lee Redin Savory was born in Que-Que in 1951 to Marie and Guy Savory and was brought up in the Rhodesdale farming area. I have a younger brother Paul who also enrolled at Gwebi with C26. I attended REPS in the Matopos for my junior schooling from 1959 to 1963, and Guinea Fowl High School near Gwelo for my secondary schooling from 1964 to 1968. I was called up to do my National Service with Intake 103 in 1969 and was one of the pioneers of the newly formed Mounted Infantry Unit which transformed into Grey’s Scouts. Eventually when I moved back to our home farm Loozani near Que-Que, I saw out the war with PATU.
Having decided to apply for Gwebi I did my pre-College practical with Hugh Wheeler on Calgary Estate and I also worked for David Smith on Little England.
During the First Year vacation two momentous events occurred in my life, which were to be life changing. The first being the death of my father from a heart attack as a result of surgery brought about by his colon cancer. So I found myself back at Gwebi a week late after the opening of our Second Year, with a widowed Mother to look after, a 16 year old schoolboy brother, a Ranch to run, with no access to finance due to normal Deceased Estate requirements and a Diploma to complete.
Thank goodness I was able to complete and satisfy the College that I knew enough for them to award me a diploma, so while most of the guys went off to complete their National Service, I was back at Loozani winding up my Father’s Estate. As my brother was a minor we were not able to secure Bank loans to begin operating the farm so we had to lease out the property for five years.
The second event was Tim Henwood (Chicken Forest) and I had decided to travel together down to Cape Town, where his brother Ned, had just had a Heart Valve transplant. The chatting and discussions we had during that trip down to Cape Town, then up to Durban, to join the rest of the Gwebi working vacation crowd, cemented a friendship that has been very special for me for the rest of my life.
Once the Ranch was leased I moved up to Harare with a view of locating a job and playing some rugby. I was totally hopeless at selling furniture for Reg Nield, who kindly gave me a job on the strength of my having played U20 Rugby at Old Hararians. I played at this Club due to Gwebi having been banned from the league by Bernard Rhodes. This action by Rhodes was as a result of our epic trip to Bulawayo to play against Teachers Training College. The sight of all that fairer sex was the downfall of so many guys and far too much alcohol was consumed.
I moved on to Rhomil as a stockfeeds rep, I enjoyed my travels but my area was Karoi around to Mrewa /Mtoko. As the landmines came on the scene and crept southwards I did not fancy ploughing into an exploding cake tin with a Peugeot 404 so joined the City of Salisbury Engineering Department as an assistant on the Waste Water farming side, they were changing over from cropping to irrigated pastures. The evil plan was to grow a small sideline cash crop of Rape for direct sale to the surrounding townships but the evil plan was scuppered when I found myself tied to a desk designing Tile Drainage Systems, so it was time to get out of the city.
So I moved out to Sinoia to work for Bud Whittaker on Lomagundi Estates, and Nigel Parker in Umboe. Whilst at the Sinoia Show I got chatting to Strath Brown and he was looking for a manager for Mkonono. The attraction of working with modern curing facilities was too strong and so I transferred to Darwendale. This was a great experience and Strath and Beryl were a great family to work for and we remained friends right up to Strath’s death. There was no doubt that he was one of Rhodesia’s fairest employers. My first year started with 40 inches of rain in the first 30 days before Christmas. A disaster season for tobacco but Di and I decided to get married at the end of the season, Strath, once he found out, presented me with a cheque and said he couldn’t have my new bride die of starvation. During contract negotiations for the second year I finally proved to Strath that his cost of production figures were a bit inflated and his come back to me was, “But remember Tim, I have to cover myself for your fuck ups!” Who can argue with that??
After two great years with Strath we returned to Que Que to the home farm, it was hard work as the property had been neglected over the time it was leased. We were involved in the local Rhodesdale Club, the best plan was to get Di elected as secretary at the AGM held during our first weekend on the farm, as that integrated her straight away. I continued to play Polocrosse and went with the Zimbabwe side to Australia in 1987.
We always suffered with a lack of enough irrigation water on the farm so eventually, as part of a Syndicate we built Bembazaan Dam. Unfortunately we never got to use the water due to Land Invasions in 2000. As a coincidence I was Chairman of the KweKwe Farmers’ Association at the time and Tim Henwood was CFU President.
I also introduced Electronic Electric Fencing to Zimbabwe in 1983, becoming the distributor of Gallagher Fence Systems in 1985. Along with Maurice Williamson in SA we developed the very first electric Security Fences in the world. Today 80% of Gallagher’s sales is Security product.
The last section of the home farm was given to Munangagwa’s driver in 2005 so we closed down Gallagher Zimbabwe and moved to my father-in-law’s property next to Lanseria Airport on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. We took over the property after his death and developed it into a Guest House. I have made good use of my Gwebi training in the art of Men Behaving Badly and my further 50 years of life to establish two Party Venues on the property catering for Bachelor Parties. Two successful cataract operations has meant that the vanity haze that used to surrounded the live female entertainment has disappeared, an added bonus. Di and I were lucky to have three great children, Guy, Andrew and Briony. The two boys are back living in Harare and daughter just down the road from us in South Africa. We are now up to five Grand kids, what fantastic families they are, super proud of them all.
Stephen James Smythe was born in Bulawayo in 1951 to Aubrey and Peggy Smythe and named Stephen. My twin brother Graham and I were the youngest of five with two brothers and a sister. My Dad was a clerk on the Rhodesia Railways and my Mom was a typist in the Civil Service. My Dad had been awarded the DFC in the RAF during the Second World War where he served as a navigator in the Lancaster bombers of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron. He met my mom in England during the war and after the war ended they returned to Southern Rhodesia. He died of lung cancer when I was fifteen and my mom lived on to ninety two and died in Fish Hoek, RSA.
Schooling happened at Hillside Junior and Milton Senior, finishing with GCE A level in 1969. I enjoyed Athletics, especially distance running, gaining school colours, and played Rugby and Tennis as well. As I recall, though my memory is fading somewhat, I think we regularly thrashed our arch rivals in rugby, Plumtree High - sorry Quentin!
Although I grew up in a city environment, I did have two school friends whose parents were farming and I would enjoy spending school holidays on the farm. I also enjoyed the annual Agricultural Shows in Bulawayo and Salisbury and gradually developed an interest in and love for farming.
I did my pre-Gwebi farming experience on Bonisa Farm owned by the Gibbs family which was a mixed dairy farm, situated at Redbank outside of Bulawayo, and then went on to two of the best years of my life with Course 22 at Gwebi College of Agriculture outside of Salisbury where I managed to graduate with a Diploma in Agriculture in 1972.
Military National Service came after Gwebi and I was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant at the School of Infantry in Gwelo before being posted to the Army Service Corps, Brady Barracks, 1 Brigade, Bulawayo. I enjoyed life in the Army and believed in the cause of defending my country, but in which cause we tragically lost many fine young men.
Life became pretty chequered after National Service. I decided to do a degree in Agriculture at UCR but dropped out after a year and a half. I was confused and depressed at the time and went to work in Durban as a bus driver which I did for seven months before travelling around Europe for three months.
After returning to Rhodesia in March 1975 I worked on a mixed pig and dairy farm outside Bulawayo at Ntabazinduna but had a fall-out with the owner’s son and resigned in a huff which was a stupid thing to do, but if I hadn’t I probably would never have met my wonderful wife, Lesley.
I took a job in Grindlays Bank, Bulawayo, and there met Les. Les’s Mom and Dad had met at Usk Agricultural College in Wales. Her Dad was born in Zambia and so was Les, in Broken Hill. Her family moved to Rhodesia in 1968, and they owned a cattle and game ranch in Wankie District, which was subsequently confiscated in 2001.Lesley and I married in 1976 and have six married children, two girls and four boys, and ten grandchildren so far.
In June of 1976 we moved on to Shangani Ranch owned by Debshan Ranches. David Tredgold was the general manager and I was employed as an assistant section manager. It was an awesome job and we were very happy there. But army call-ups were quite frequent, during which Les moved on and off the ranch to live with her folks while I was away. Les was expecting our first child, Karen, and in November of 1977 I resigned from Debshan and decided to sign up in the regular army so Les could live in Bulawayo without so much to-ing and fro-ing going on. In 1977 I was also diagnosed with severe clinical depression and was under psychiatric treatment for three years and have been on long-term medication ever since. Several attempts to come off the meds have so far been unsuccessful.
I spent five years in the Army, through the transition to Zimbabwe, got to the rank of Major, still in the Army Services Corps, known as the “jam stealers” by the “beetle crushers”, but resigned when 5th Brigade was formed for the purpose of Gukurahundi in Matabeleland. I wanted no part of it.
In June 1980 I became a Christian when I eventually accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, believing that He did indeed die on the cross for my sins and rise again from the dead, thereby proving in my mind that He is the resurrection and the life that He claimed to be when He raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:25-26)
After leaving the Army in August 1982 I worked for three years in a small ministry known as Bibles for Africa and was involved in distributing Bibles and scripture portions, both in English and vernacular languages, in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi.
In 1986 I embarked on a completely new career path, taking some courses in bookkeeping and accountancy, and worked as an accountant for the next sixteen years in several different companies leading eventually to the position of group accountant for three different farms owned by Zimcor Limited, and then financial manager for Claremont Estate in Juliasdale, until December 2002.
In about July of 2002, after much prayer and consideration, Les and I decided that it was time to leave Zimbabwe and move to New Zealand with our three youngest children who were still being home-schooled. In January 2003 we were allowed to enter on my work permit for a year for work on a dairy farm. We had a great year and were looking forward to extending the work permit for another year and then applying for residence but for various family reasons we actually ended up moving to the UK in January 2004 where I started another job on a dairy farm in Canterbury, Kent. I continued in dairying and milked cows for the next four years before another career change when I became a gardener and worked for a family estate for ten years, maintaining their property and garden and a small herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.
During our time in the UK our three youngest children all completed their education and began career paths and got married, one to a Canadian, one to a German and one to an American/British/Chinese/Filipino.
In 2015 our son Matthew, who had been living in New Zealand for 5 years, rang to say that Immigration rules governing the family sponsorship scheme had changed to make it possible for Lesley and I to apply for a residence visa if we wanted to. By then we had two kids living in New South Wales, Australia, one in Canada, two in England and one in New Zealand. Also, all of our seven grandchildren were in Australia and New Zealand. We had always wanted to live in New Zealand since leaving Zimbabwe and so we began the fairly extensive application process. Our application was finally approved in March 2018 and Les and I flew in to Auckland on 19th January 2019 to begin the first of the remaining chapters of our lives.
I quickly found work on a dairy farm just outside the small town of Hawera and Les is employed as a Lactation Consultant (mother breast-feeding support) by a Provincial Health and Social Services provider. We have settled in well to life in New Zealand and since leaving Gwebi I have managed to prove the saying to be true that says “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. But we are thankful that we have been, and still are, happy, healthy and satisfied. My Gwebi days trained me well and I will treasure the memory of those days forever.
David Sole was born in April, 1951 in Bindura, the oldest child of Buddy and Dot Sole from Bauhinia Farm, Glendale. John and Anne are his younger brother and sister. Dave attended Springvale House Preparatory School near Marandellas and then Falcon College near Essexvale for his secondary education.
Having decided to apply and been accepted for Gwebi, Dave did his pre-College practical with Doug Lyon at Leopards Vlei Estates in Glendale, where cotton, seed maize, soya beans and wheat were irrigated from the Mazoe River.
Immediately after graduating from Gwebi with Course 22, where he obtained a Distinction in Engineering, Dave fulfilled his military commitment with most of the graduates reporting to Llewellin Barracks but instead of remaining as an infantryman he volunteered to join the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers. This entailed the dangerous work of landmine clearing, recovering arms caches and boat patrols on the Zambezi River with the South African Police, then later on, moved into patrolling Lake Kariba with the Marine Wing of the BSAP.
With his military commitment completed Dave did the "obligatory" one year in the northern hemisphere to see how the other half lived, working with Stowe Philp (C 21) John "Prickle" Thorn (C22), in London flat maintenance. A brief trip to Europe, which included the ‘Running of the Bulls in Pamplona’, Spain, and the German October Beerfest was undertaken.
November 1972 saw a new summer season approaching and Dave returned to take up the reins on Bauhinia Farm with his Father where they grew crops under irrigation. This "apprenticeship" was to span eight seasons, most of the time was spent in understanding and perfecting reduced and conservation tillage on cotton, maize, soya and wheat crops.
In 1975 Dave married Katharine Partridge and they had four boys Michael, Brendon, Alastair and Quinton. All grew up on the home farm and enjoyed being part of the wonderful Glendale farming community.
In 1980, Bauhinia Farm was sold to Dave. Buddy and Dot moved onto a small farm Granite, which nestled in the hills on the south side of the home farm.
In 1982 The Marodzi Dam Syndicate was formed comprising ten farmers able to draw water from the dam built and the river below. A year later, the dam filled and from that time the participants drought proofed their enterprises and were able to winter crop. This was financed in the main by AFC over a ten year long term loan.
It helped immensely that the government of Zimbabwe enabled this to take place. Bauhinia was located off river, so a 5 km, 350mm pipeline was installed, sharing this with neighbour Colin Schafer. Because all irrigation water needed to be double pumped, most of crop production was concentrated on seed crops.
The years between 1983 and 1998 were regarded as the most productive years. The Mazoe Valley districts were cohesive and supportive in all building projects. Two more syndicate dams, Richard Laurie, and Jumbo were added to irrigation capabilities. The Lower Mazoe Sugar Project was conceptualized. This failed due to a world sugar price slump. Barwick Junior School was built that brought miners and farmers together. The Mazoe North East Medical Centre was also built and in Bindura, the Mapunga Grain Silo storage complex was built to market grains independent of the GMB. This was highly successful and enabled the members to forward-market and procure inputs in bulk thus saving substantial costs of production.
On the farms in the Valley, horticultural projects were researched and developed. The cut flower and citrus export industries grew massively and contributed greatly to Zimbabwe’s foreign exchange earnings.
Because cotton in that farming area had contracted Verticillium Wilt, a soil fungus which saw yields reduce by up to 50%, Dave and Kath, in 1992, diversified out of cotton into export roses which were sent worldwide . In a constant need to improve quality, experiments were carried out with substantial success on hydroponic production. This soon came to an abrupt end in November 2002 when 72 years of farming was terminated, in just three days, by the Zimbabwe Government. Political rumblings from 1998 had got louder and in 2000 the first farmers were evicted.
After a violent eviction, Dave and Kath first moved to Harare to reside in a family home. Then in 2004 after many exploratory trips, they ventured into Manica Province, Mozambique, to pioneer a piece of ground on the shores of Lake Chicamba situated one hour east of Mutare. Produsola LDA was registered as a company in December 2004. With some assistance from a Dutch grant, a fruit tree nursery was built and completed in 2007. The Citrus Research Institute in South Africa (CRI) assisted Dave and Kath enormously, with advice, visitations and encouragement during these difficult years. Language, building of infrastructure, malaria, and persistent red tape were the biggest challenges. The business pressed on until 2012 when the Chicamba Dam was depleted, due to excessive power generation. Water quality was reduced by gold panners. The company mothballed operations then, to open again in 2016, this with a new shareholder taken on board. The nursery is still operational today, and focuses on citrus, macadamia, avocado, litchi and mango propagation of trees. Exports into the region are given top priority.
Early in 2019 Dave and Kath moved back to Harare to reside in Mandara on a permanent basis and look forward to new endeavours. Kath's passion is in gardening and Dave enjoys the workshop, alongside entertaining their nine grandchildren when all parties are available, with two families in Harare, one in Victoria Falls and one in Johannesburg, life in Africa moves along.
John Arthur Desmond Steel was born 14th December, 1950 at King Edward Hospital, Johannesburg, RSA and immigrated with my parents, Eileen and Desmond, to Rhodesia the following year. My Father was transferred to assist in the opening of Nedbank in Salisbury.
After briefly living in Umtali I attended Marlborough Junior School then on to Marandellas High School for a year before finishing off at Mt. Pleasant High School achieving 9 O Levels and 4 M Levels.
In November 1969 I did my pre Gwebi season on M.M. ‘Oom Thys’ de Kock’s Claire Estates in Inyazura and in October 1970 I enrolled at Gwebi with Course 22. My First Year roommate was Dave Sole and in the Second Year Kobus Ferriera. I played First XV Rugby and First XI Cricket.
After graduating I did my national service with Course 126 and was chosen to attend leadership training at the School of Infantry in Gwelo. I passed out as a Corporal and did the final four and a half months in the Wankie area.
Having completed my military commitment I went backpacking to the UK in 1973 along with John Thorn, met up and worked with Bruce Hobson, Graham McSkimmings, Stowe Philp amongst others.
In 1974 I was offered a position on Gary Player’s Farm in South Africa but spent the first two months on Glenara Estates close to Salisbury on the road to Mazoe learning Dairy as we were going to import a dairy herd from Glenara to Gary’s farm in Magoebaskloof near Tzaneen. This did not materialize so Gary imported Quarter Horses from the USA with high hopes in establishing this horse breed in South Africa but unfortunately this breed did not catch on.
Gary then decided to import Thoroughbred horses but it was decided that Magoebaskloof was not good for Thoroughbreds due to altitude, high rainfall and consequent lack of calcium in soils. It was decided to relocate the horses to the Cape and I jumped at the chance to resign and return to Rhodesia.
Early in October and I got a job with Rothmans as a trainee Leaf Manager. By November 1995 I was on army call up with 1st Battalion. Because I had had a break back packing in the UK and then farming in South Africa I could not be put in 8th Battalion and suffered the consequences of continuous call up from Feb 1996.
On November 20th 1976 I married Jacqueline Proctor Rushworth, recently immigrated from the UK who worked as a teller at Nedbank where we met.
1979 I was commissioned as an Officer and by 1980 was in charge of an army contingent at Assembly Point Alpha. After the elections which preceded Zimbabwe’s independence I went back full time to Rothmans and by 1983 was made Leaf Manager at Rothmans.
1986 I left Rothmans to become a tobacco trader and started a very small transport business under the name of Remington Gold which did fairly well and I employed Harry Proctor to run the trucking side. About two years later I was appointed as a consultant at Rothmans to supervise their Tobacco purchases and blending and not long after returned full time to Rothmans as Production Director.
In 1998/99 BAT and Rothmans merged and after nearly a year I was offered the position of the new BAT Director. I was hoping to benefit from a redundancy pay out as I had already planned to start my own cigarette manufacturing business. I resigned and started Cut Rag Processors.
By this time Jacky and I had produced three sons, Mathew born in 1982; Andrew in 1983 and Michael in 1993.
Around 1992 we attempted to start a croc farm in the south of Brazil. We exported 106 Nile crocodiles to the south of Brazil. This lasted three odd years but eventually due to pressures of red tape we had to slaughter them all and close shop.
Not long after we started croc farming in Mozambique on Cahorra Bassa. We collected and hatched eggs and at one stage had close to 200,000 crocs on the farm. Our main problem we made was getting too big and not having big financial backing. We sold out in 2017.
Harry Proctor, in the meanwhile, did very well with the trucking side of the business and by 2006 we had our own yard and some 80 trucks. Cut Rag produced Remington Gold cigarettes and I think we surprised a lot of people with our success.
Boxing Day 2003 was when I suffered a major heart attack which was not picked up until August 2004 whilst having a medical check up in Durban. Unfortunately I could not have a bi pass as the damage was already done.
Due to the lack of Heart specialist in Zimbabwe I decided to retire to Ballito in South Africa. I remained on the board of Cut Rag and visited Zimbabwe every few months.
Around 2008/9 we sold the trucking business. Unfortunately we were badly scammed by a man called Colin Kwaramba and lost close to US $1 Million. We made the mistake of giving him occupation before payment. He had a lot of help from people in high places.
In February 2012 my wife Jacky was diagnosed with lung cancer and brain tumours. She had radiation treatment and she was amazingly brave. We had three months bucket list time and she died on August the 4th 2012. The last 10 days in hospital in Ballito was horrific. Without her support I would not have had the success I did.
I suffered more heart problems in February, 2017 and this time I was able to have a bypass, not one but a triple bypass. Don’t ask me how or why.
In 2019 we finally sold Cut Rag Processors after a few years of hanging in hoping for the best in Zimbabwe. I live in retirement in Ballito now and I am pleased to be out of it altogether, but I still have my house in Honeybear Lane in Borrowdale which is being run as a B and B and restaurant/function centre.
William Thomas Stokes was born in Johannesburg on the 31st of December, 1948. I always asked my mother why she couldn’t hold on for one extra day! We moved to Rhodesia when I was in Std. 4 and I was at Blakiston Primary School for two years after which we moved back to Johannesburg.
We used to travel up to Rhodesia every July holidays to visit my Uncle and Aunt who farmed in the Doma district. My love for agriculture started there. I loved the farming life and the country. My uncle told me that one day I would attend Gwebi when we passed the gates on our way to Salisbury and then come and farm with him.
I matriculated at Northview High School where I got full colours for rugby and half colours for cricket and athletics. In 1967 I went to do my military service in the South African army.
My folks insisted that I do a degree. So off I went to the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, where I enrolled for BSc Agric. Maths, Botany, Zoology and Physics did not motivate me in my dream to go farming ! Too much social life so I moved down to Cape Town with my folks and registered with UNISA to do a B.Com. What a frustration! So I emigrated to Rhodesia to go farming and went to Gwebi.
Now I was in my “sweet spot” and there I was very happy and motivated with wonderful friends. My uncle had sold his farm due to health reasons and said that after I gained experience that he would help me buy my own. I joined Wightman & Co. as a sales rep in their stock feed department. At that time I got married to Sandra Anne Roberts, whose father was the Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank.
The urge to go farming was still strong, so after two years I went farming with Tim Riley at Norton. What a brilliant farmer!
A couple of years later we were on holiday in Cape Town and stayed with my parents. My dad who was a director of SA Druggists, said to me that Rhodesia could not survive with the whole world against us. He spoke to a family friend who was very well known in the agricultural community and he arranged an interview with Agriplas, a pioneer in drip irrigation. Well I got the post and they paid for my move to Cape Town. They enrolled me into the in-house training program.
I was transferred to Tzaneen where I worked for them for five years before starting my own irrigation company. We were there for 25 years when I sold my shares and stated a new venture in irrigation automation. At that time we moved to Pretoria. After two years that did not work as planned and I started from scratch back into irrigation design and supply. Still busy with it!
We have a daughter and three sons as well as eight grandchildren - so we are truly blessed!
I am also a Director of a mining ventilation company with my oldest son, Andrew, who is the MD. My youngest son, Paul, is our sales and marketing manager. We all love hunting together as well as Andrew’s son. The whole family gets together as much as possible and we are great friends ! God has been good to us!
Johannes Daniel van Coller Strydom. I came from Rusape so my Junior School was John Cowie in that village, followed by Grey College, Bloemfontein for High School. After Gwebi I worked for the Windmill Company in Rusape, as a Sales Representative. One notable incident occurred when I was dropping somebody off at the Selous Scout Fort at the end the Rusape Airstrip, this was after a session at the pub and on the way back, in the middle of the airstrip had a head-on collision with a Selous Scouts Land Rover in my brand new Peugeot 404! However, as I was going on Call-up the next day, I managed to arrange to have the vehicle repaired without anyone at Windmill being any the wiser for this little mishap. However, not too many weeks later I managed to have a second head-on with a brick wall whilst I was in Salisbury with Mike Langley, we were discussing which road to take on either side of the said wall! Windmill did find out about that little incident unfortunately.
After a few years with Windmill, I left to undertake a tobacco farming career on our farm, just outside Rusape. This part of my life had its ups and downs and the added excitement of the Struggle.
I sold the farm after Independence and moved to Lake Kariba, having met Steve Pope on one of my breaks to Kariba. Steve was running night game drives along the power lines and wanted to expand in camping safaris. I took over the night game drives and during the days I would occasionally operate fishing trips on the lake. It was on one of these trips that I came upon a beautiful location in the communal lands adjacent to the Sanyati Gorge. After some serious thoughts, I decided that this was the spot to construct a safari lodge. First job was to get myself a boat, so I arranged to have one built in Salisbury.
Whilst I was waiting for the boat to be built, I was invited to operate game viewing safaris around Victoria Falls by Bill and Dennie Dugan, who had moved there from Inyanga. So off I went for a few months.
I returned to Kariba, my new boat was ready, and I assisted Dave and Shane Scott with boat transfers from Tiger Bay Lodge to/from Kariba Town. Tiger Bay was situated close to the officers of the ‘powers that be’ that ran the Omay TTL, where I was hoping to construct my lodge. Eventually, after a period of approximately 2 years, I was granted a lease to construct the lodge.
This construction took over 2 years. My team consisted of myself, my Jack Russell, Woofly and five members of staff. I built a rough campsite. I was on a tight budget, so nearly all of the construction materials were sourced locally.
During construction I was invited to take a night’s R&R over on Spurwing Island. It was during this time that I had a run—in with an old bull buffalo. After an evening of considerable imbibement, I was walking back to my tent when the old bull appeared from behind a tent, I decided to chase him out of the area, but he did not like that and I ended up with 2 cracked ribs and 24 stitches in my shoulder, and a very uncomfortable bumpy ride across the lake the next morning to Hospital. Hence, I had a very healthy respect for old buffalo bulls!
Two years later, Sanyati Lodge evolved, it was to become one of the top safari lodges in Zimbabwe, with guests from all over the world. One notable guest was Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Trying to explain to our staff exactly who he was, was quite difficult, so instead of saying he was the husband of the Queen of England, we decided to tell them that he was the King of England. I also managed to mistake him for his Personal Secretary, which was a bit embarrassing! Another notable guest was Ian Botham who gave us all hours of amusement. Known for his heavy drinking and riotous behaviour, he was very miffed when he appeared at breakfast asking if he could take his bottle of Henessey XXX0 back with him. Red faces all round when we had to inform him that after his departure to bed the previous evening, we decided to finish the fine bottle of brandy, after all, he did leave it on the table, so naturally we assumed it was for us to enjoy. “Christ,” he retorted, “you F-word Zimbabweans can drink!” (Pot kettle comes to mind)!
I met my English wife, Diana at Sanyati. She had come to ‘check the place out’ for the English Safari Company she was working for. Whilst she was there, I had decided to shoot an old dog baboon which had become a nuisance and was injured. Whilst she was sunning herself by the pool, I let fire and killed the baboon. ‘What the Fx@k was that’ she muttered. Anyway, she was obviously impressed with this great white hunter exhibition, as we entered into a very difficult long range romance, which kept the Kariba community highly amused, as communication to and from London was made possible by radio to Fothergill Island who had a telephone and then transmitted to Diana in London.
On April 1st 1990 we had a confrontation with a Zambian poacher whilst on a picnic with our guests up the Gorge. He had been stranded when his boat sank, and obviously had to get back to Zambia. He hijacked my guide, Benjamin Peech and myself at gunpoint. He wanted us to take him back across the lake to Zambia. We managed to convince him that it was too far to travel, as we were low on fuel so we would drop him off on the other side of the Gorge and he could travel by foot back to Zambia. As we came to the drop off point, we managed to distract him, as it was obvious that he was going to shoot us. After a little tussle he ran off. I got away with a bullet hole through my shirt!
My time at Sanyati was a very happy period of my life. We had such entertaining adventures with our guests, and to this day, we still keep in contact with a few of them. I was once interviewed by a journalist from Tatler Magazine. She described me in her article as: “Hans Strydom, a double rugged, hard drinking, chain smoking settler type and ex tobacco farmer”! Which was a constant source of amusement to my wife and my mates.
I sold Sanyati to John Bredenkamp (Casalee Tobacco) and we moved to our new home – The Meikles Hotel in Harare. Whilst there, Roy Meiring, the CEO of Meikles, introduced us to John Bull of Cresta Hotels. Pamuzinda Lodge in Selous just outside Harare was part of their portfolio, and they were looking for a Management couple, so off we went to Pamuzinda. We eventually formed a company with Viv Bristow and three other directors, and we brought Pamuzinda from Cresta. Whilst we were there, a friend of mine from Kenya came to visit. I knew him from staying at his deep-sea fishing lodge in Shimoni and fishing with him on his boats. To cut a long story short, we moved to Kenya with Diana running the lodge and kitchen and myself skippering one of the boats. We left Shimoni and the lodge when the tourism industry took a dreadful dive due to the General Elections.
After a couple of years in Amboseli at Tortilis Camp, which was situated in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and a very lovely camp, and a couple of years running a small lodge and restaurant in Malindi, we returned to the coast, and took over the running of The Forty Thieves Beach Bar and Ali Barbours Cave Restaurant, for George Barbour, the owner. We did this for about four years and then ventured into various different enterprises.
In 2018, George was diagnosed with Cancer and he asked me if I would be interested in taking over the Cave Restaurant. I was, and we did, and this is where we are today, at Ali Barbours Cave Restaurant, Diani Beach, Kenya.
William John Selwyn Tayler. I was born on 27th January 1950 in the Nkana Hospital, Kitwe. Northern Rhodesia. My parents were both South African born and my father was transferred to Kitwe by Barclays Bank, where he met my mother, who had followed her brother there from Barkley West. South Africa. My elder sister was also born in Kitwe. My father left the bank and took up employment as an accountant in Blantyre, Malawi where we lived for a year or so. In 1953 he was transferred to Harare and later started his own Real Estate business.
We lived in Highlands, Harare and I went to Highlands Junior School and then onto Oriel Boys High School. I rode my bike to school and back twice a day. It was fun because we often used to ride to and from home with the chicks from Oriel Girls School. After leaving school I enrolled as a student at a flight Training Centre at Charles Prince Airfield. I later failed a medical because of a suspected heart condition and had to abandon the career as a commercial pilot. It was a disappointment but I was fortunate enough to live my dream, and at the age of 36, I got my Private Flying Licence and I flew my Cessna 182 for 17 years, until the farm invasions.
My Dad was keen that I should take over his business and I was employed as a letting Agent for a year. I studied at night for a London University qualification by correspondence but was unhappy with this career choice so my dad funded a trip to Europe for me to get my head sorted out and decide on a career. I bummed around Europe and England for nearly six months and woke up one morning realising that I wanted to farm and own my own farm. I was interviewed by Mr Rodney Mundy and accepted for C22.
I did my pre Gwebi initially with Robert Beattie on Tenneriffe farm, Mt Hampden and then John Nicolle on Selwood Farm, Bindura. On both farms my day was spent supervising farm workers in the fields and I learnt little. On Tenneriffe Farm my breakfast was delivered to me in the lands. Cold fried egg, bacon and a Mazoe bottle of cold tea !! I checked chained 400 ha of land that year for the maize crop. The crop was planted by hand and cultivated by badzas and oxen drawn cultivators. A trial of Atrazine was done on one field for the first time with amazing results. No mombis needed! I had no farm transport and had to walk everywhere or hitch a ride on a tractor and trailer. I worked 7 days a week and into the night on occasions mixing stock feed. It taught me that successful farming needed this sort of commitment and passion.
On a weekend off from Selwood Farm I met Lynda in Harare. I was visiting a friend and she arrived from next door looking for her lost dog!!! She was 16 and I was 19. I won a cash prize at Gwebi for something or other for First year, for the purposes of buying educational books, but I added the cash to my savings and bought her an engagement ring. I still feel a bit guilty about that.
After graduating with Course 22 I did my 9 months Military Training, spending most of the time at Llewellin Barracks, just outside Bulawayo. Lynda and I got married shortly after I had completed my service and I accepted a position as Farm Manager in the farming district of Doma. At the time it was considered a large farming operation with the land prep being done by a fleet of D4D Caterpillars, growing Cotton, Maize, Soya and Tobacco. During my time there, a coffee nursery was also established.
I was anxious to get farming on my own and in 1978 applied for funding with Agricultural Finance Corporation. I was accepted on the Tenant Farming Scheme and I signed a 3 year lease on a remote derelict farm on the fringes of the Doma Farming District. The farm had been unproductive for many years and had no power supply and very limited water. The barns and homestead were in disrepair as the owner had left the country. We planted a small hectarage of tobacco, cotton and maize, in our first year with three very old tractors (one of them cost 50 bucks! ) During the harvest of our cotton and maize crops, we were attacked by ZNLA Terrorists. The homestead came under small arms and rifle grenade fire and the compound was set alight and all our labour chased away. Our neighbour Peter Marchussen, a PRAW pilot, got airborne at approximately midnight, circled over the homestead firing his Browning, which broke off the attack. Within days the Doma Farming Community rebuilt my compound, harvested my crops and delivered them to the market. Such wonderful people whom we owe such gratitude. Our daughter Ashleigh was a toddler at the time. On the positive side the farm owner agreed to install a power supply if we stayed on.
A year later we were attacked again, but this time by a more determined bunch of ZIPRA Terrorists armed with AK47’s and a RPK machine gun. The homestead was under fire for 35 minutes before the reaction stick arrived. Lynda holding Ashleigh in her arms and pregnant with our son David had loaded my last magazine when help arrived. Only 20 rounds left! Unfortunately the flash hider on my F.N. had been damaged during a training session the day before and the muzzle flash was easily seen by the gooks, so I had to move from window to window to dodge a hail of bullets. The Local plate glass guys arrived the next morning from Sinoia and got the fright of their lives when they had to replace 49 panes of glass. They did it in record time and sped back to safety !!
Our third year was uneventful, apart from PATU call ups and reaction duty. We did not renew our lease and moved onto a farm closer to Mangula. It was the year before Independence and we had good rains, commodity prices improved and we had a cracker of a season. We applied to the A.F.C for a loan to purchase a farm in Doma and a 20 year facility was offered, at a discounted interest rate. We purchased Kayalami Farm measuring 625 ha in extent and spent about 20 very happy years there, amongst a wonderful community. We developed the farm over the years and installed pivots and sprinkler irrigation. We grew irrigated and dry land tobacco, cotton, maize, soya, a few cattle and established a coffee plantation. We also fiddled a bit with Proteas for export but they failed. We later bought Ozana Farm down the road and expanded our farming operation.
Our happy times ended in 2001 when our farms were invaded and our homestead, with all our belongings, was burnt to the ground. Our stores and workshops were badly plundered and equipment damaged and stolen. The C.F.U. members from across the country were unbelievable in their generosity and donated all the household goods we needed, such as beds, stove, fridge, cutlery/ crockery etc, as we had salvaged nothing from our burnt house. One farmer even sent his lorry unannounced with 12 tonnes of Tobacco fertilizers. We will never forget the amazing support we got from our fellow commercial farmers and will always be extremely grateful. They gave us strength to carry on. The Z.T.A. also came to our aid and engaged a lawyer to challenge our Insurers as they refused to pay our claims. Sadly we got nowhere but the Insurers did eventually make a compassionate payment that allowed us to replace the washing machine. We were heavily insured and had been a client for years !!! We moved into a neighbour’s cottage who had ceased farming and put in a small crop that year, but we were chased out of that cottage a few months later, by the so called new owners, and we converted our farm office in our workshop area into a cottage. With sabotage attempts, death threats and a Section 8 deadline we abandoned the farms in December 2002 and were forced to leave most of the infrastructure in place and moved to our house in Harare. We were pretty broken !!
We started to rebuild our lives and bought a small wrought iron business in Harare which Lynda and I operated, but I got bored with it, and applied for a vacancy. I was lucky, and was offered a position to manage a Vitamin and Mineral Premix Company for C.F.I. I was the M.D for four years and learnt a lot about animal feeds. I started my own stock feed company called Feedmix in January 2008 with the help of a partner. It succeeded and is now the third largest stock feed company in Zimbabwe. I semi-retired in mid-2017 and employed a G.M. but have just recently sold my 50% share of the Operating Company and am now retired.
Lynda and have been married for close on 47 years and live in a Golf Estate in Harare. Our daughter with her four children lives next door and our son Lives in Johannesburg with his two sons. I ride my horse most days, often accompanied by my daughter and granddaughter on their own horses, fiddle a lot in the garage, spend as much time as I can with my grandies and manage our properties. Course 22 at Gwebi was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the most incredible institution where I learned so much about general agriculture. I was not from a farming background so the practical/theory course was perfect. My diploma has opened many doors for me throughout my life and I feel very proud that I was a student there, in that era. I have just turned 70 and Lynda and I are both in good health.
Bruce Murray Walter Taylor was born on the 22nd June, 1951 in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia to Lurline and Barry Taylor. His two siblings were his sisters Judy and Pamela. He attended Lusaka Boys’ Junior School and then onto Clifton School in Durban before finishing his Senior schooling at Peterhouse in Marandellas.
Bruce was brought up firstly on the family farm, Ayrshire, which was in the Lusaka South farming district and then, after selling that farm the family moved to Frogmore Farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. Here they grew Tobacco, Cotton, Maize and Soya Beans as well as raising Beef Cattle, Sheep, Pigs and including a Dairy.
Bruce did his pre-Gwebi practical on the family farm and after graduating returned to run Frogmore Farm. Sadly his sister Pam passed away in 1994 and Bruce stepped in immediately to take responsibility for bringing up her son Mark.
Bruce loved cooking and entertaining and he even started his own farm restaurant for a little while. He also made his own cheese as a hobby for some time. Bruce is extremely passionate about sport and is also an avid bookworm.
Unfortunately Bruce had a stroke in March 2012 which has proved to be debilitating and although he can walk he manages better in a wheelchair but he is occasionally able to commute between his sister Judy in Joburg and his nephew Mark in Lusaka.
Bruce Harold Thomson. Upon leaving Gwebi I did my National Service with the majority of C22. Initial training was the normal pain in the butt. Strippy Goddard was our platoon commander at Hwange so the war was not taken at all seriously, not that it was serious at that time.
Next was a three month working visit to the UK which I didn't really enjoy, hence the hasty return.
I returned to work for my dad on the farm at Chakari, growing mainly tobacco and cotton. The 70s were good years farming wise. The war was on but we could at least shoot at the bad guys unlike we could in later years ! Got married at the end of 1979.This was a disaster and only lasted 18 months. I then re-met my many times girlfriend from school and Gwebi days, Margot Eastwood (sister of Dave Eastwood from C16) who I married on D-Day in 1981 and we're still going strong. Between us we have five daughters !! In total, I have nine grandchildren and Margot, six.
1980/81 was a brilliant year for agriculture in Zimbabwe but droughts took over after this and 1987 was particularly harsh. We moved to the Ruwa / Goromonzi district in 1984 where we had 18 very happy years growing tobacco, paprika and a few flowers for export. After the 1987 drought we sold the farm in Chakari. Our children attended Springvale House and moved up to Peterhouse Girls School where they were fortunate to complete their education before the start of the land invasions.
When Mugabe won the 2002 Presidential Election, and "acquired" our farm, Margot and I made the decision to leave Zimbabwe. We left for the UK at the end of that year and have been here ever since. I've had a few jobs as a gardener and now run my own gardening business. Margot currently works as a care assistant in a residential care home. The First World is definitely second prize ! We both miss home but, it is what it is and one day we'll return to Rhodesia as ash in a box!
Bernard John Thorn – alias ‘Prickle’ - was born 9th Feb, 1951 where I lived on Arda Farm, Concession with my parents Clifford and Elizabeth Thorn. My Father moved to Horseshoe area and opened up Mabubu Farm. My Father died 1953 and mother remarried in 1964 to Spike Powell so I have a half sister Tina, who married Chris Dorman from Trelawney, and they now live in New Zealand.
I went to St. John’s Prep School and then matriculated at Michael House School, Natal. School was no big deal for me.
Pre Gwebi I worked for Bunny Shaw in the Sipolilo north area. After Gwebi I did my national service with 22 other Gwebi guys and served in the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers.
Post National Service I travelled to UK with John Steel where I worked and travelled for two years. We met up with other Gwebi Old Boys – Bruce Hobson, Graham McSkimmings, Dave Sole, Stowe Philp, Jimmy Dix and several others.
I returned to Mabubu Farm and started to farm in my own right. This was a great challenge as I didn’t have a great deal of experience or money. My neighbours were amazing and very tolerant of my impromptu calls for advice – followed by a few beers. I started playing Polocrosse for Horseshoe Club and had a very social time playing around the country. Old C22 Gwebians I had the pleasure of playing against were Tim Savory, Dave Carshalton and Geof Burnett-Smith.
I left the Engineers to join PATU in our district and like all other farmers the demand on our time was making life tough. But hi-ho life was good.
In 1978 I met and married my wonderful wife Ally and she is second born to Hugh and April Meikle of Banket. Her siblings are Nick, Robert and Georgina. We had three children who are Michael (he went Ruzawi and Falcon schools), and then Sarah and Camilla (they went to Lilfordia and Chisipite schools).
We farmed tobacco, maize, paprika and citrus. We also had a lovely herd of Charolais cross. Our other commitments were serving as Chairman and Secretary of Horseshoe Farmers Association from 1981 to 1984. Our family pastime was sailing and we were members of Pembi Sailing Club. This was a great fraternity and we travelled all over the country, Ally and I again getting involved in the administration side. These were happy times indeed.
In 2002, like so many others, we had a very harassing eviction and were forced off the farm and decided to make a bold break and move to the UK. Here our youngest daughter, Camilla could complete her A levels. Ally and I put our hands to any work available and eventually found some stability. Ally was PA for the CEO of a communications company and I ran a small franchise.
In 2010 I went back farming with our son Michael where we are contract growers of table apples for a fruit retailer to the supermarkets (the farm belongs to the retailer). Ally runs a student stay business. Our present hobby is bee keeping.
Colin Lowe compiled reports on Course 22 from the following sources: Ian Johnstone (Archivist), Tim Savory, Dave Sole, Steve Bennett (Gwebi Website), Noel ‘Boetie’ York (C20), Quentin Haarhoff, Judy Carter (Quentin Haarhoff’s sister), Peter Margesson, Brian Richardson, Dave Wrench (C14), Naldi Pope, Steve Edwards (Steve Pope’s friend) Rob Beaton (C16), Gordon Hayzen, Mark Taylor, Rex Ade, Will Stokes, Rob Marshall, Dave Gordon, Colin de Villiers, Louis Hartley, Coral Collett, Nick Hurry, Barry Hodnett, Steve Smythe, Geof Burnett-Smith, John Thorn, Brian George, John Tayler, John Steel, Bruce Thomson, Roy Miller, Paul Loubser, Jan Ferreira, Boyd Matthews, Tim Henwood, Stuart Lindsay, Michelle Hogan (Mike Lewin’s daughter), John Harding, Gwen Ireland (Bruce Hobson’s sister), John Eastwood (C18), Hans Strydom, Julian Goddard and Lloyd Evans.
Iinformation and content has been supplied by other parties so no warranty (express or implied) is given to its completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.