Posts Tagged ‘Northern Rhodesia’

As I’ve mentioned before, although born in Northumberland, I grew up in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in the 50’s and 60’s.  I was privileged to have had a protected, idyllic, worry-free childhood.


My Mum & Big Brother on the farm in Garneton… 1960’s

Mwambeshi Memories

Days gone by when safety wasn’t an issue, I remember a little stream that beckoned a group of friends in Garneton.  How many times did we saunter – some on bikes – some walking, along the dirt track under the power lines with the warm sun tingling on our shoulders?

I don’t remember being fashion-conscious only comfortable cotton in the hot sun.  I don’t remember being boy-conscious (that came later).  I just remember loving the escape from home, the walk through the bush, the baking sun and cool, crystal clear water as it hit hot skin.

We laughed a lot; we talked endlessly and carried our innocence and open hearts on our sleeves.  God – I miss those days!

How many competitions did we have?  Shoes off, stripped down to cossies, we’d race over the hot beige sand and stones burning our feet, to the other side of the bridge. 

The bravest would dive into the swiftly running current, going deep, eyes open, avoiding the banks to stay under as long as possible.  The current would propel us under the bridge until the air threatened to burst our lungs, spewing water when your head broke the surface. 

We’d look around to see who had won. Who had stayed under the water the longest and let the current take them the furthest away from the bridge?

We always sat on the Garneton side, a natural pool which opened up to allow swimming and splashing in comfort.  The Marlow’s farm was on the other side of the bridge and further upstream we could hear the cows every now and then. 

Later, I remember a story that a crocodile had taken one of the cows from the bank.  That croc lived in our Mwambeshi – the stream we swam in every day we could!  I don’t remember swimming there much after that.


Frances Macaulay Forde © 2014

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Recently Doris Lessing died at the ripe old age of 94 with more than 50 books to her name and 3 children, 2 of whom she abandoned to achieve her career dreams. So I find it interesting that she was later known for her humanitarian efforts – is it just me or is there something wrong with that picture?

Oh –  she also won a Nobel Prize for Literature at the age of 88 (oldest recipient) for her life’s work.

“The Grass Is Singing” was her first publication in the 1950’s, at the time a shocking story of life in Southern Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe.  That country banned her for 25 years but recently welcomed her with open arms.

I remember reading the story in the 60’s when I lived over the border, in Northern Rhodesia and being impressed with the characterizations  and ‘reality’ she managed to capture and share.

And now I find out she was a poet, as well!

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Isn’t it wonderful that London Underground have poems available for all to read?

One of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith has just released a book on W.H. Auden and the article about the book, mentions a poem I particularly like.  So I clicked the link and it took me to the Transport for London  website and a whole list of wonderful poems.

I believe it should be mandatory for all rail networks around the world to enrich the lives of their thousands of passengers with beautifully crafted, home-grown words.

Imagine what that would do for poetry book sales!


Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Tears of a Giraffe’

Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies Detective Agency  books have the voice of my Africa – my childhood home, although set in nearby Botswana.  Alexander was also born in 1948 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, the same year my brother Paddy (also a professor) was born in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia. I giggled with the characters through most of this one and others in the series or else wiped away tears – they’re written with such humanity…

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