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Early memories of Mazabuka
Written by Dudley Brown   
Monday, 22 March 2010 15:23

Sometime in January, 1947 the mail train trundled slowly over the Victoria Falls bridge. I was five and I still remember that first exciting glimpse of Northern Rhodesia. The P.C. was at Livingstone station to meet my father who was on his first posting in the Colonial Service. He was not too impressed at having to meet the Police Constable but fortunately someone put him right about the importance of his ultimate boss, the Provincial Commissioner, before he was able to put his foot in it.

By the end of the day the steam train pulled up at our destination, Mazabuka. My poor mother thought we had arrived at the end of the world but I thought it was wonderful. This is when I was first called Bwana Dudley.

The Boma was some way out of the town so, for my sixth birthday, I was given a second hand bicycle so that I could ride to the Codrington School which had only recently opened. It was one of those old bikes with a tennis ball wedged under the collapsing saddle andI was taken to school by a District Messenger who would ride just behind me and help me along with a forked tick placed under my saddle. We passed African and Indian trading stores with the tredel sewing machines whirring on the verandahs.

I can't remember much about school apart from the warm milk at morning break, which I detested, and a blackboard with abc written between lines. My parents were a bit shocked when I asked them what a 'B.....Basket' meant.

I once went on tour with my father and was carried on the shoulders of four men in a canvas chair lashed between two long poles. My father walked with everyone else. I remember a lot of singing. One I stayed in camp and some of the carriers built a tree house for me. I invited my father for tea which consisted of water in the gin bottles we always kept it in in the fridge. Unfortunately they were now being used for the paraffin. I couldn't understand why there was sucha dramatic reation when my father took an unsuspecting swig.

Life was not easy for my parents; it was difficult to come out on the salary and our health was not as it might have been. My mother had been advised at  Rhodesia House in London, to take out lots of coctail and evening dresses. As there was absolutely no opportuntiy to wear them she asked the cook to sell them for what he could get.

My brother was born in 1948. Someone told my mother not to feed him on Ostermilk from South Africa believing, mistakenly, that it was no good so my baby brother was always hungry and used to cry a lot - especially in the middle of the most exciting parts of Rupert Bear. I never really forgave him for that! When he was a few weeks old my father fell into a malarial coma for several days and I spent six weeks away from my family in Lusaka Hospital with blood poisoning. In those days penecillin injections were admisistered every four hours! I couldn't understand why my mother didn't come and see me.

This is already history but, in future years, when my generation has gone and the official history is eventually written, the smells, smiles, sounds and feelings will never be recaptured.