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Cucumbers from Mongu
Written by Dai   
Saturday, 20 March 2010 09:01

One of my duties as Head of Science at Kalabo Secondary was obtaining materials for the Cambridge science practical exams which took place in November. On this particular occasion I had to get cucumbers for the biology exam. I had not seen any in the local shops or market so I put plan A into action. I asked the green-fingered Fynboes, a teaching couple from Denmark , to grow some for me. I could now sit back and relax.

One day the Fynboes informed me that they had failed to grow the cucumbers due to the dreaded fruit fly. It was time to put plan B into action . I wrote to my sister Margaret in Ndola with the request for six or seven cucumbers. I could now relax again!

As the day of the exam approached there was no sign of the cucumbers (they had been sent on Zambia Airways). It was time to put plan C into action! There was another crisis brewing - none of the Cambridge exam papers had arrived from Mongu. So Gustav , head of Agricultural Science, and myself , had to fly to Mongu to fetch the exam papers and find some cucumbers. I was fortunate. At Kambule Secondary School there was Roy Nelson ( he came from Ystalyfera, the neighbouring village to Ystradgynlais where I came from back in Wales). He informed me that he had a secret supply of cucumbers - welcome news indeed.

The District Education Office supplied us with a speedboat and pilot to take us , the exam papers , and my precious cucumbers, back over the Zambezi Flood Plain to Kalabo. At this time of year the canal to the Zambezi was almost dry. From time- to- time Gustav and I had to get out and push the speed out but eventually we arrived safely with our precious cargo.

Postscript : weeks later my cucumbers from Ndola arrived!! I could not even eat them .