Archive for June, 2011
Richard Eatwell was my Grade 7 teacher at Chancellor Junior School in 1980.
Alexandra Fuller was in his class the following year.
I was fortunate to be given a copy of your wonderful book, to have known so many of those people from the tale and having lived through similar experiences myself during that period. Well I couldn’t put it down. As with your dad and mum at Drifters I was protecting my home and woodwork factory in the Vumba, everything I had worked for since I resigned from the Ministry of Education in 1987, by 1999 Fiona and I had created something quite unique, the ‘majig woodcutters’, 50 people were directly employed, all learning new skills along the way, we made creative wooden items mainly for the tourist market and exported a considerable amount. I felt very proud of what we all had achieved.
The referendum rejecting Mugabe’s plans for ZANUPF to rule forever was a great turning point. I had an idea where the country was heading, Fiona and I made plans to open a shop in Gibraltar, I knew we needed a safety valve, I advised my brother a successful tobacco farmer in Raffingora to get out. The only time he ever listened to me.
Fiona and I saw less and less of each other as the shop in Gib gathered momentum, my 2 eldest sons had left home, I spent many lonely nights in the dark in my home drinking myself to sleep. Waking up to watch my dreams disintegrate day by day.
On my way home from Mutare one early July evening with Elizabeth our domestic worker from a day’s shopping and hunting for vital items to keep the factory running, we were confronted by army and police chasing and arresting anybody that moved, very close to my house near the end of the Lauranceville Road, they ordered me to stop and get out of the car.
I was arrested along with about 100 hundred or so border jumpers, smugglers, farm and domestic workers, taken to Grand Reef and eventually detained for 5 days at Mutare Central. I was charged under POSA denigrating the name of the President in public, bollocks. I believe I am still ‘out on remand ‘ even today.
Upon my release I became morose, my 2 younger sons were at home at the time , Fiona was in Gibraltar, I became rude and irritable with them, I did not bother going to the factory anymore or eat any food just bottles of gin every night.
One morning I was seated in front of the computer, hadn’t even turned it on, hadn’t bathed, shaved or changed my clothes for several days, Elizabeth came to my office and said there was somebody outside who wanted to talk to me, I didn’t want any more crap from the cops or anybody, just to be left alone. I politely asked Elizabeth to tell them to go forth and multiply.
The second time she came back to me I lost it and stormed ranting and a raving to the back door, Douglas, before me in the door way stood an angel a blond haired young woman dressed all in white, she said
‘Mr E, I just had to come and find you, do you know who I am?’
‘You were the best teacher I ever had’ she purred, cooooooooooool!
‘Fuck you are Alexandra Fuller’ as I dashed off to the bathroom grabbing nail clippers and a razor on the way.
36 hours 3 bottles of Bols brandy, 2 cartons of Madisons and a stiff jaw later she left and flew back to Wyoming.
In 1994 I had headed to Vilankulo in Mozambique with a buddy, to take a look, I had previously seen an advert at the Harare camp site for a new backpackers lodge just opened in Vilankulo, there was no new lodge of course just some Mozambican guy on the beach with a bucket saying ‘I am a shower! You can put your tent there.”
The instigator of this deed that became the most famous joint in Southern Africa, has since become my closest friend, David Kimber, I now work with him running Sailaway Dhow Safaris, we have 5 dhows and take tourists to the Bazaruto National Maritime Park, fantastic job in fact the best since I taught 2 snotty white kids at Chancellor School!!
I offer you and your family a free Dhow Safari for writing that book.
The name of David’s backpackers before the authorities closed it down was the
Out in paperback this week with alluring new subtitle…
I have this piece on Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands in the latest issue of Travel & Leisure. It’s just about the most beautiful place on earth and if anyone who lives there is reading this, please feel free to offer me your outhouse to come and live in. Many thanks.
This is exciting. The major UK travel book award. Wish me luck.