I grew up in a time and place that was primarily untouched by world issues and the problems of the world as a whole. Yes, I did live through a liberation struggle which saw many people rise up in a conflict brought about by a few. Though I cannot remember much of that time, I know that both sides were guilty of violent and disastrous acts of aggression towards each other, but these were things I was shielded from. I lived in a family that chose neither side and wanted nothing to do with a war of aggression being fought for a land that we all knew would one day become independent. It seemed pointless going to war over such greed and determination to remain governed by a chosen few.
I recall growing up in Mabelreign in Harare after independence, and my best friend name Dominic Meza. Biggy was his nickname. He lived next door to us where his mother was the house keeper for an Army General who lived in the main house. Biggy and I had a fascination with fishing, and developed river netting into our own skilful art. We used to go down to the Sherwood Golf course where we would spend hours playing in the damn, or following the river. We’d explore the river in Bluff Hill behind the drive in, and the river down in the field in Strathaven before you got to Sentosa.
Our days were spent on our bikes exploring as far as we dared to venture. We’d sneak into the drive in on Friday nights and sit in front of the projector hut with about a dozen other kids that and sneaked through the fence and watch the latest films, running into the darkness when the guard spotted us. We’d rush to the shops on pocket money day and spend hours trawling through the sweet isle of Bon Marche trying to decide what we wanted this week.
At night I used to sneak out of my bedroom and across to Biggies house to join them for sadza and listen to Biggies brother Andrew tell us stories of the bush. We’d sit around the fire and I’d be wowed into a land that thrilled me and inspired me to want to see all I could see of Africa.
I’ll never forget the release of this album by Johnny Clegg and Jaluka. Biggy and I were thrilled by it, and I recall spending a whole week learning Zulu dances and perfecting them, to the degree when on Sunday we built a whole big staging area outside our house in the back garden with fire candles for light, and tinfoil back drop for reflection. As the sun set on the day we put on a performance of African dancing for our families. I remember how serious we were about getting everything right, and trying to impress everyone. And how proud we both were when we finished it.
Yes those were innocent days. Using bottles filled with bread crumbs to catch kapenta fish in the rivers, riding home as the sun was sinking in the hot dusty tracks of the greenways we followed. Holding our own 14th Avenue Olympic Games and hell we even had our own 14th Avenue Parliament going on. Damn man those were the days. Simba, Ngoni and Tinashe Manduwi, Nigel and Shawn Todd, Tapiwa and Ghina, Chaka, and of course there were others whose names I just cannot remember. But yup that was the gang of my time. And one hell of a gang we were too.
Today we are all Scatterings of Africa. The last I heard Biggy was working for the Cold Storage Commission in Zimbabwe. Andrew had returned to their Kumusha when his mother had passed away. I’ll never forget her. I remember once when our gardener had fallen ill with Hepatitis and I was trying to explain it to her, her exclamation was “He died from a Hippopotamus?” much to our amusement. Bless her, I hope she is happy in heaven.
Nigel was in Agricultural school when I left Africa and Shawn was still at Prince Edward, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they had returned to Australia. I know Tinashe is in South Africa. I don’t know what happened to Simba or Ngoni, nor Tapiwa or any of the other gang. I guess we really are all Scatterings of Africa.