I woke up to another cold day this morning, and we've even had a few flakes of snow already, although I don't expect that we'll get very much as we lie in a warm basin, which means that we don't usually suffer as much as some parts of the country when the weather turns to whiter times! My son and his family live on the Eastern side of the UK and they were able to build a snowman on Easter Sunday!
Well, I think that that's more than enough about the cold for one day! The more that you think about it, the colder it seems, and so I'm going to think about warmer climes for the rest of the day. That's not difficult to do because I lived in Africa for a long time spending twelve years there, starting in what was Rhodesia, moving through the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia period, and finishing in the early years of Zimbabwe.
I went there at the beginning of Autumn, 1972, and finally left in March 1984, the intervening years adding a richness to my life that I would never choose to have missed. In 1972, Rhodesia had been subjected to economic Sanctions at the behest of the British Government who had cheated the people persistently over the issue of Independence, finally forcing the hand of the Rhodesian government, under the leadership of Ian Douglas Smith, to declare UDI. His leadership is the only leadership of a country that I ever have been proud to have lived under, as generally speaking I have found the majority of politicians to be either afraid to buck the 'Party' line or else more interested in their own advancement and enrichment than any idealistic view of the country that they are voted in to serve. Having said that, i also believe that people generally end up getting what they deserve, by and large. make of that what you will!
My time in Africa was terrific! I integrated into the culture quickly and made friends easily from all walks of life, irrespective of background. My experience in life is that you get what you give, and so if you offer the hand of friendship then, with rare exception, you get the hand of friendship in return.
I worked for several years for Singers, (the sewing machine company), and my join to the African townships on a daily basis, dealing with customers in their own homes. The welcome that I received from the people has rarely been equalled and certainly never excelled. I learned what real dignity was from people who struggled to rise up to the Poverty Level on a daily basis. I coined the phrase, 'Poverty with Dignity' as a result, and will never forget the many kindnesses shown to me by the African people, nor the genuine friendliness that I received from them.
They were good years! Yes, I would agree that I lived a privileged lifestyle by many people's standards, but I also ensured that I gave employment to as many as possible and paid far above the average wage levels. One particular memory is the setting up of a small market garden on part of my 2 acre plot, an enterprise that I went into with an African friend, and which gave employment to two workers. At the weekends, very early in the morning, we would be out pulling, cutting, trimming and washing, the onions, tomatoes and rape, in order to get it to the nearby township market for sale. Our produce was excellent quality and usually we would be completely sold out after a couple of trips with the estate car filled to the brim, and, all in all, it was over and done in less than an hour! Then we would load up chickens to sell and make a couple of journeys with those. It was a fun enterprise that i look back on with much fondness. I'm not sure that my employer at the time would have fully appreciated the extra use that I made of his company vehicle though!
Leisure time was spent often around the pool, lazing in the sun and looking up into clear blue skies, usually with not a cloud in sight. I recall watching the vapour-trails of aircraft high up in the heavens, wondering where they were going to. It was a wonderful life, and one which allowed me to build so many happy memories.
The downside was the dreadful things that happened during the long, drawn-out war, and the atrocities that were committed during that dark and bloody period of the country's history. I finally left in 1984, sad to leave so many wonderful friends behind, but able to see the way that the country was going. I've never been back, nor really wanted to, although I often think about close friends and wonder about whether they managed to survive through all that's happened since. I'll not dwell on that here, for the way that the despot Mugabe has systematically destroyed the country is well-documented.
The point of my recollections today is to remember the warmth of the sun, and especially the warmth of the people. They were, and are, the salt of the earth! You can find out more about Rhodesia here.