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Principals

Dr W. L. Fielding, 1950-65

Gwebi Farm had been an experimental station in the Ministry of Agriculture in the Southern Rhodesia Government and this seems to have gone in fits and starts throughout the two World Wars and the huge Dr W L Fielding Principal of Gwebi Agricultural College 1950-65economic depression that came between these two wars.
The Government was well aware that many of the soldiers that were being demobbed after the Second World War had missed out on a tertiary education and that they needed some formal training. Gwebi Farm was the perfect place to introduce these young men to a career in Agriculture. Short refresher courses were provided at the agriculture research station for a few years.
Dr Fielding came out to Southern Rhodesia in 1949 to join the Ministry of Agriculture and was specifically tasked with starting an agricultural college at Gwebi offering a two year diploma course.
The college opened in 1950. Dr Fielding, in his understated and quiet way, proceeded to lay the foundations of Gwebi Agricultural College that was well known throughout the country and region, and whose Diploma was recognised worldwide. By the time he left Gwebi, just over five hundred students had graduated from the College. Dr Fielding had done some of his post graduate work at Rothamsted Research Station in England back in the thirties and forties so he probably named 'Broadbalk' at Gwebi after the equally famous Broadbalk at that Research Station. Broadbalk Field at Gwebi had been opened in 1909 and was used continuously.
After fifteen years establishing Gwebi and as head, Dr Fielding moved on to take the Chair of Agriculture at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda.

 

Mr Hugh Rodney Mundy, 1965-70

"Rod" or "Chief", as he was commonly known, wielded a huge influence over the students Hugh Rodney Mundy Principal Gwebi Agricultural College 1965-70of his tenure. He was the natural successor to Dr Fielding who had done such a good job in establishing the academic foundation of the College. Rod was no slouch academically - he was, after all, chosen along with only two others in Southern Rhodesia, as a Rhodes Scholar to attend Oxford University back in 1947, but he was primarily a practical man with a strong bias towards Animal Husbandry with a particular fondness for Hereford beef cattle and Holstein dairy cows. Rod, as Head of the Animal Husbandry section, had also been Acting Principal whilst Dr Fielding had been away as an advisor to the FAO and UNESCO in various countries, so his transition into the position of Principal in 1965 was seamless.
Schooled at Prince Edward, Rod completed a B. Sc. at Rhodes University, then was commissioned during WWII. After Oxford he was posted to Matopos Research Station before the transfer to lecture Animal Husbandry at Gwebi.
Rod was an avid sportsman and earned a 'Blue' whilst a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University from 1947. Needless to say cricket played a big part in his life at Gwebi and he is best remembered as an umpire, sitting for hours on end on his shooting stick in the blazing sun.
Tragically, cancer was to intervene and he passed away in July 1970.
Colin Lowe.

These are some words written by his daughter:
Rodney Mundy, was born on November 8th 1920 and sadly passed away on July 18th 1970 - a few months before his 50th - very young! He had suffered with the dreaded cancer, had had a leg removed in 1964, had many other treatments, but lost the battle eventually, as did Stella his wife in May 1980 and then Gill, their elder daughter in 2011.
He was the son of Major Hugh ( who had something to do within the Ministry of Agriculture) and Marjorie Mundy. He attended Prince Edward School before going to Rhodes University to complete a B.Sc. (SA) He was a Rhodes Scholar in 1947 and read for and obtained an MA (Oxon). He was Captain of the Royal Sussex Regiment during the war. He married Stella Merle Buchanan on August 19th 1950. They lived at Matopos Research Station, where he worked before moving to Gwebi in 1955, where he later became Principal. Here they had two daughters - Gillian 1951 and Charmian 1953. Hugh their son was born at Gwebi in 1958.
Dad was a great sportsman in his day, playing cricket, water polo (albeit a little 'dirty'), tennis and hockey at provincial level -  I think he might have been an Oxford Blue for hockey, not cricket. Cricket was his first love and he played country districts cricket - where an Annual tournament was held in his honour - the Rodney Mundy Double wicket Trophy. Our sons Rodney and David would like to try and resurrect the tournament, and anyone with knowledge as to where this trophy might be, please let us know.
He was awarded the Farming Oscar in 1970 - but unfortunately was very poorly in hospital, so Stella and Gill received it on his behalf. The newspaper report went like this - "since his arrival at Gwebi in 1955, no fewer than 600 students had passed through his hands. His enthusiasm and drive for all things agricultural, plus his outstanding sportsmanship, have been responsible for moulding Gwebi into the premier agricultural college of Southern Africa and the envy of many older established colleges in other countries. His former students are now among the best farmers of Rhodesia and are tangible proof of his outstanding contribution to the agricultural industry".
I was only 16 when he passed away and at boarding school for his last 5 years, so lost a lot of precious time with 'my dad'. But, he taught me how to swim - especially in the freezing waters of Nyanga, the rock pools and high wire swing of Mermaids Pool, how to drive while I sat in the place where his leg used to be, it is through him I have a love for animals - learning how to wash, groom and plait tails of the cattle he loved so much and showed at the agricultural shows around the Country, my love for fishing (particularly Tiger fish) and the outdoor life. He was a strict father and we knew when we were in trouble!! Mum and Dad bred Ridgebacks, well, and many were exported as far as Canada. He had a regular 'poker' evening and this is when the students were brought in to 'look after' us - mainly Hugh as he was the youngest! And I remember well the large refrigerated truck that arrived at the house with his regular supply of fresh oyster - to this day I cannot eat them! His love of cricket led to endless cricket matches, where we children had to sell raffle tickets, which gave me a dread of raffles. So, because his love of sport wore off on me, and my husband Colin being a sportsman too,  our children were dragged from club to club at weekends for various tennis, rugby and cricket matches, as were Gill, Hugh and myself all those years ago - the Rodney Mundy trophy being the main one!
I continue to meet so many people who remember Dad and have  lovely things to say about him - he was a legend!
Written by Charmain Cloete née Mundy for Colin Lowe.

 

Mr Frederick Bernard Rhodes, 1970-76

Bernard Rhodes was born and raised on a farm in Yorkshire. He graduated in Agriculture at Frederick Bernard Rhodes Principal Gwebi Agricultural College 1970-76Leeds in 1945 and spent three years of district advisory work in the UK.
Bernard emigrated with Margaret to Southern Rhodesia and was appointed a Technical Officer in the Department of Research and Specialist Services at Grasslands, Marandellas, in 1949. He was promoted to Animal Husbandry Officer in 1951.
He was promoted to Northern Rhodesia until early retirement as Chief Animal Husbandry Officer in 1967.
Soon after that he took up the post as Senior Lecturer in Animal Husbandry at Gwebi in March 1967. Eighteen months later he also took on the role of Vice-Principal.
Bernard succeeded the late Rod Mundy in August 1970 and always maintained a keen interest in Animal Husbandry whilst administering the college. He would be seen walking his spaniel around the padocks in an evening and shared his vast knowledge with anyone who gave him the time.
Bernard was appointed Project Manager of Keiskammahoek Irigation Scheme in 1976 then a Regional Manager in 1980.
Bernard Rhodes retired with Margaret to Ramsgate on the Natal South Coast in 1988. He passed away in 2014 aged 89 years.
His daughter Lindsay is married to Guy Robinson - an Old Gwebian himself (Course 19) and a prominent farmer in the Mazabuka farming area of Zambia.
Steve Bennett

 

Mr Hugh John McLean, 1976-1982

Hugh was born in 1933 in Johannesburg when his father, a civil engineer, was working for Hugh John McLean Principal Gwebi Agricultural College 1976-82the South African Railways. He schooled in East London and Cape Town.
Hugh graduated at Stellenbosch majoring in Soil Conservation. He worked for the Sebakwe group of mines where he met Dulcie MacDonald.
Hugh then spent a year at Cambridge and earned his diploma in Tropical Agriculture at Trinidad and captained the hockey team there.
In 1953 he married Dulcie and they moved to Tanganyika to work in extension. His work took him around the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro. Farmers around Kilimanjaro are able to grow crops all year without irrigation.
With four children - Christine, Bruce, Peter and Sandra - they left Tanganyika in 1966 and toured South Africa. Hugh was appointed Principal of Gloag Ranch Mission.
Hugh was appointed lecturer at Gwebi in Field Husbandry in January 1967 and was soon promoted to head of section. He was promoted to Vice-Principal in 1970.
Hugh McLean was appointed the fourth Principal in November 1976 and served six years as head.
A devout Christian, he was active in the Presbyterian Church.
Steve Bennett

All photos on this page were taken by Colin Lowe in the Hall at the college.

 

 

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©2015 Steve Bennett