I was born in Rhodesia, in the Lady Chancellor Hospital, Salisbury, at about 1.00pm in 1962. It was raining at the time. I was brought up in an idealistic lifestyle on a farm in Featherstone (Almost central Rhodesia, flanked by Enkeldoorn and Beatrice) with two patient and tolerant parents, an older brother Kevin, a �house boy� named Thomas, a rambling cattle and firstly tobacco, then Mielie farm, the cooing of the wild doves during the day and the call of the �bushbaby� by night. The carefree tennis games and bottle feeding baby calves. Chickens, pigeons, tortoises who�s back we would paint so that we could recognize them, cattle grids, the flame lily, Chongololos and �botter gaats� (We would pull off their heads, legs and wings and then suck their abdomens as our favourite party trick to impress the �townies�.) We would impishly pick up the dung beetles and put them on the opposite side of their dungball and watch as they would start rolling it back the way in which they had just come and tap on the ground for the Tock-tockie beetle to tap back. Sandworms, that would get under the skin on the soles of your feet and you had to freeze them with dry ice and maggots that would bore into your skin if clothes were not ironed properly. Sitting on my grandparents long-drop and getting my backside stung by a swarm of angry hornets � ouch.
Shooting spring hares at night with the spottie, duiker and those meer cats that came to raid the chicken run. My Impala bicycle and the little tin of personal items that I hid in the rafters - my name and the date, a few teeth, a penny and whatever-else. Listening to Charles Jacoby or Jim Reeves on the record player and later John Edmon and Clem Thollett. Tilley lamps and candles, paraffin fridge and freezers. Treadle sewing machines and blacks that could sew any outfit without a pattern or knit anything on a pair of old bicycle spokes. Fairy toilet paper and sunlight soap, the Farmers Weekly and Spud cartoons. Remember the Palmolive soap ad with the kid in the bath � �Reach for the sky mum�. �No, reach for the Palmolive cowboy!� and another, I can�t for the life of me remember which finance company it was, but the guy and the girl are sitting in front of the fire and he says; �I love you so much, I�ll give you the world.� She eagerly turns to him and exclaims; �Oh, I wouldn�t say no to a little car!� and then as he looks over his shoulder at the camera with a look of dismay on his face the ad said; �Sooner or later, you are going to need ---- finance.�
The RMS mail delivery and party line telephones - our ring was two shorts and one long. Weaver birds (I raised a number of them by hand) flat topped thorn trees and those sunsets. Machukatas, Marullas � The Amarulla liqueur is still one of my favourite, snot apples, Mexican Apples, Cricket Ball marrows and klappers not to mentions sour plums and picking wild mushrooms in a basket to take home and fry up in butter. Having sundowners on the veranda with pink Vienna sausages and fresh roasted peanuts. Dad�s aloe patch and Wag-�n-bietjie bushes. Picking the prickly pears, knowing that your hands would get covered in the tiny hair-like prickles, but man those �Madorapheas� were nice once peeled and chilled and eaten with a cold beer.
Holidays at the Zimbabwe Ruins where we would camp and the tame porcupine would have us running � I scored a few quills from him - and the Rupesie hot springs, camping at the Ngezi dam, having a fire on the side of the river bank, with the pan hotting up and pulling in a bream, gutting it and cooking it fresh, the smell of the musess (The fermented concoction that was supposed to attract fish), getting that strong dark mud under your fingernails as you caught fishing worms. Camping! � Although always frightened of the crocs and hippos, it was wonderful and daring, just the thought that we might contract Bilharzia and have to face those annual shoulder injections. We had to have two in the left shoulder. The whole school used to sit in rows and you would watch the person�s shoulder, in the row ahead of you to see if one �jab� would swell, indicating Bilharzia. Salt and Malaria tablets and the Cholera Moetie taken on a sugar cube.
When I was six, mum dutifully taught us correspondence by �School on the air.� I thought she was the meanest teacher, We learned Janet and John, �Through the garden gate� and I can still remember the packages arriving in the post, large brown manila envelopes tied with a string that wound around a little red eyelet closure. Going to boarding school and crying myself sick on the first night. Having the same set of underwear for a week and having to �Knot your socks� before throwing them to the wash. The chicken pox, measles and mumps and that funny little scratchy immunization we had to have on our arm. The old three wheeled Fortson tractor, Burly barns and shelling mielies � the dust would just hang in the air and as kids we would jump on the stacks of sacks, sewn closed with the special �Mielie needle�. We used to swim in the Poort, that ran through the V in the Manesie ranges and bark back at the baboons on the sides of the hill. There was a cave up there, where a mad African lived and we used to taunt him. There were also old Matabele graves in the hills and after the rains they used to wash away and we would find the skeletons, which we took great delight in muddling up, taking one skull and putting it with another body, sure that on resurrection day they would be looking for their heads. Catching Barbel and putting them in the house tank. Lighting the �Boiler� in order to have hot water and chopping off Chickens heads to watch them run around headless before we would pluck and gut them. It was a great game to make fake pellets from cut pieces of drinking straws filled with sand. We used to shoot the turkey with those from the pellet gun and later, when it became vicious, we were blamed for ruining a good bird. Shooting the chicken tails with the pellet gun, only we weren�t terribly crack shots then and Peacocks cawing on the roof before roosting. Tanning rabbit skins and chasing Daasies on the rocks and finding those white barn owls in the barn and having to try to keep them hidden from the blacks, they were very superstitious about them and would kill any that they found. Teasing the cook boy about the Ntokoloshi � the little spirit that roamed about the place � hence they never liked to sleep flat on the floor, always raised. Eating sadza rolled into balls and either dipped in sugar or into the Mureiwa � (gravy and vegetables in a slopping mix) around the fire, scooping the sadza out of the three legged pot.
Playing stingers and K-I-N-G spells king. Lucky beans that we thread on a necklace, Baobab fruit, (the cream of tartar) snake apples and tumble weeds.Mangoes being sold on the side of the road and not eating any fruit you found growing along the road Go away birds and being brave enough to jump from the waterfall at Sterk Stroom. Playing with Madolas (Knuckle bones) and making the thorns from the flat topped thorn trees into Afrikaaner cattle horns. French skipping and making those finger patterns from the string that you wound around your hand. Eating molasses out of the forty-five gallon drum and stocking up on supplies in South Africa - things like batteries, Milo and Smarties and reading Zane Grey westerns. Later the agric alert, I can�t remember our call sign, but the Gooks were referred to as �Charlie Tangoes� and the Police station was called �Sunray�, the Adam�s grenades placed strategically around the security fence the old �leopard� mine proof vehicles. Knitting those awful balaclavas, fingerless gloves and goolie warmers for the troopies. Getting a buzz out of serving at the troopies� canteen and the automatic reaction of waving to every armed forces vehicle or uniform that you see. Convoys and FN�s. Mrs Woods (Salisbury GHS) sewing mistress quoting �If the soldiers forgot their guns like you girls forget your sewing, this country would be in ruins!� Juniors at school being called �sprogs.� And initiation ceremonies at boarding school. Climbing on the roof of the GHS school hall. Bunking out of the hostel to go and see � of all disgusting things � the Rocky Horror Picture show and thinking it was so cool. The old PE Rugby chant � can anyone remember what it was, I can only remember - I think it was.
�Who are, Who are, Who are we?
We are PE can�t you see�.
Straw boaters (Bashers) that sailed in the air at the end of the war cry - those hats were damned good fun. My dad finally fiber glassed mine as he was so tired of buying me a new one. It was shiny and heavy and I was so embarrassed because it looked different to the rest and didn�t have that �lived in� look to it.
Eating Melk tart and koeksuster, biltong and getting a refund on your coke bottle. The best meal was a coke and a fresh bun. Desai�s in Enkeldoorn. Calling people �Eiwe� and saying �Voetsek� to dogs, where �Suzie Matwetwe� was well known to all and we used to tell �Van der Merwe� jokes. Making those traction tractors from the old wooden cotton reels with either candles or soap cut to fit and a lakkie band. The annual Christmas tree party and tickie draai dances. The Jacaranda Band and Gymkanas. Fondue dinners and venison meat. When children were told not to �shoopa� their parents and Guy Fawlks night on the 5th of November was always a huge event with Braai, bonfire and fireworks. Every 11th November I still tell my family, �It�s Rhodesian Independence day today, just like the yanks have their 4th of July.�
Believing that if you had seen the �Carry on � movies that you were really enlightened and watching the Gods must be crazy four times at the drive-in �actually - remember squeezing people into the car boot until you had driven passed the gates! Suddenly a little R6 would have eight people climb out. Having the matchbox put behind your rear tire on a hill start when you were going for your drivers license and having to reverse through those drums before the instructor would even get into the car. Hand signals when driving and finger prints on your Rhodesian citizenship card � your �stoopa.� The scandal the first suicide jumper from the Monomatapa caused and the way the Monomatapa used to serve their butter, in little balls on a stainless steel tray over ice. Buying those huge T-Bone steaks at the Mono�s and running the opposite way on the escalators. The egg &I and the Pancake king. The first Wimpy bar and the horror when the Hamburger Hut were fined for using donkey meat in their burgers. Going to Gremlins and ordering their pickled fish, it was awful but we used to dare each other to eat it. Brown cows (coke on ice cream) and calling traffic lights Robots. Cooking vegetables marinated in beer over the braai and rondarvals with thatched roofs.
Being as drunk as a skunk and shouting at the top of your voice;
�Here I stand, My beer in hand,
a tribute to my mother land
When out of the Vlei, out of the veld
Some stupid idiot has to yell
RHODESIA � You Bucking Fruity!!�
Ever since, not being able to listen to �Ode to Joy� without getting a catch in your throat and without thinking of years back when you would stand tall and straight in the school yard, feeling the sun on your head and shoulders, with your arms at your side in reverent respect and singing at the top of your voice�.
Rise oh voices of Rhodesia
God may we thy bounty share
Give us strength to face all dangers
And where challenge is � to dare
Guide us Lord to wise decisions
Ever of thy grace aware
Oh let our hearts beat bravely always
For this land within thy care
Rise oh voices of Rhodesia
Bringing him your proud acclaim---
---Rolling in the mighty rivers
Roaring in one grand refrain
Ascending to the sunlit heavens
Telling of your honoured name
Too rusty man! Can anyone fill in the pieces or correct the mistakes
How about this, I can�t remember what it was called,
Once a column came a marching
In the long, long, long ago
And they came to find a country
That the world would come to know.
It was built on Toil and courage (We inevitably sang �toilet paper�.)
Out of what was wilderness
And they gave us, this that country
To preserve and ever bless.
The early fathers of our land
Have put their trust in us
On guard, for all they won, we stand
As those who follow must
Rhodesia � our homeland
We�ll stand on guard for thee
Rhodesia - our home land,
We�ll ever cherish thee.
I remember innocently singing:
This land is your land
This land is my land
From the eastern border to the Western highlands
From the Vumba forrest
To Kariba�s waters
This land was made for me and you
If they should tell you
That you should leave it
Don�t you believe it, it isn�t true----
---something, something �
your sons and daughters
This land was made for me and you
And Rex Tarr�s Cockie Robin
Excuse the spelling and probably the pronunciation too �
Zonkie Nonie lapa moia
Ena kala ena kala
Ena Zweelie, Ena feelie lo nyonnie Cockie Robin
Ena Zweelie, ena Feelie
Ena zweelie ena feelie Cockie Robin
Hoebanie ena blurra Cockie Robin?
Meena cherra lo Sparrow
With my bow and arrow
Meena blurra Cockie Robin----