CLEM is away in Zimbabwe on a well-deserved break and I have been seconded to do the editorial!
Our main feature for this issue is an article by Eddie Preston of his travels in Uganda. We hope you all enjoy it. The last article on Beira was very interesting and this one promises to be too. Thanks Eddie.
Our last function at Houghtons "Spring in the Valley" saw 80-plus in attendance. Again, a great BBQ Sunday and shouldn't be missed. So much to see and do amid a hive of activity and throngs of people which all adds to the excitement.
For those who aren't too keen on all the hustle and bustle the Association has decided to hold two Houghtons Winery BBQs next year. One at a quieter time and one when "Spring in the Valley" is on.
The Association's ever-popular Xmas BBQ is on again in Kings Park. There will be free sampling of boerewors supplied from our Bundu Times advertisers, free lollies for the children and a visit from Santa.
We decided to hold it at the old Kings Park venue as we had had quite a few comments that people had a preference for it. So we hope to see you all there - you never know there might be a few surprises in store!!!
The gatherings at the Commonwealth pub have proved very popular, well supported by the loyal 'A' team (although a little bird has mentioned that they might be changing their name to the 'ZZZ' team), new and old members of RAWA and visitors from Zim.
With drinks at club prices and free nibbles it makes for a very enjoyable evening. The next pub night will be the first Friday in February (6th) so highlight the date in your 1998 calendar.
If any of you need Christmas presents, the Association has six green Rhodesians Worldwide ties left. They sell for $18.
Also - as this issue is the December/January issue there will be reminders in your Bundu Times for 1998 subs. Those of you who are in credit for 1998 (there are some!) will note you have no reminder in your issue. Please don't forget as the Association relies heavily on your subs payment and the advertisers payment.
We try to keep both fees to a minimum as we know times are hard for quite a few people - particularly the M'dalas.
The Association has set the date for the AGM as 27th February with free drinks and snacks and a promise of a stripper to entice members to stand on Committee - the stripper will only come on after we have the full quota of Committee members!
Seriously though, we have had a good Committee team for 1997 under the able leadership of El Presidente Mr Don Maclure.
They have enjoyed themselves during the year at our varied functions and rumour has it that some of this year's Committee will stand for re-election in 1998. Well Done.
In the next issue nominations will be called for. Please give a thought now, in preparation for 1998.
Also if you have any suggestions or ideas please let us know and within reason (!) we will endeavour to please.
That just leaves me to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a good 1998.
MDALAS REPORTDURING September and October M'dalas have had opportunities to attend several outings as well as the usual lively monthly meetings.
The Hotham Valley Steam Train outing to Northam Show was attended by 23 of our members who enjoyed a pleasant and relaxing day in the country.
The Barbecue at Houghton Winery was well attended with a good representation of M'dalas. This was held again on the same day as the Swan Valley Spring Festival which attracts huge crowds and some of the parking areas are a long walk from the BBQ site, which creates a problem for some of our members.
Botanic Golf was held on Tuesday 28th October and 14 playing members turned out plus one spectator. We had two rounds before lunch and a third round in the afternoon. This was well organised again by Peter Dean and Doug Learmonth.
At the September meeting our speaker was Dr. Neville Marchant who is Director of the W.A. Herbarium. He gave a comprehensive account of the origins of the flora of Australia with particular reference to the great variety of native plants in W.A. His talk was most interesting and he answered a number of questions from the audience.
Members are reminded that the M'dalas Christmas Lunch will be held on Thursday 18th December at 11.30 for 12.00 at theWentworth Plaza Hotel costing $25 each.
On the sick list in recent months are Rhona Barker and Betty Potts who have each suffered a mild stroke. Both have made a good recovery. Flo Tupman has had one cataract operation and may have the other eye done in due course. Our best wishes to all those on the sick list.
Benetia Hodnett gives us a monthly report on the LOTTO investment. We still await the big day when our numbers come up!
Uganda odysseyEDDIE PRESTON visits the one-time "Pearl of Africa" to find it recovering from a ruinous past.
HAVING what some regard as a strange urge to visit Uganda, the opportunity to fulfil this desire presented itself whilst I was in Zimbabwe earlier this year as flights are available from Harare via Nairobi.
Arriving at Entebbe in the late afternoon gave me little time to make any travel arrangements so I took the courtesy bus to the Lake Victoria Hotel, that as the name suggests, is located on the shore of Lake Victoria with commanding water views.
A splendidly restored hotel that exudes an atmosphere of tropical grandeur and is one of the best hotels in Uganda, and at US$120 single it ought to be.
However, a pleasant evening sampling the various beers offered by the two breweries made me forget the financial pain and besides, Friday is drinks night!.
The following morning I was off to Kampala to see Mr Avis about a hire car. After the shock of the hire rates I opted for the cheapest, A Hyundai Excel and with hindsight, something a bit more robust would have been appropriate had I had the foresight to have known the tracks I was to travel on, probably a Land Rover!.
I drove 500km southwest to Kabale, a large town near the Rwandan border which was evident by the huge Red Cross aid trucks passing through. I was not allowed into Rwanda because of the rebel presence in the area because of the Zaire situation, so I spent the night at another pleasant hotel called the White Horse Inn, perched on a hill overlooking the town.
Only problem was no shower until the morning because of no water, but one got used to not having such luxuries.
The next day I headed west, and as the road deteriorated rapidly by the kilometre into a rough track, it became clear that my Michelin map of Africa was
not covering my route and after several frustrating attempts at asking locals as to my location, I was informed that I was close to the Goma refugee camp in Zaire. So, armed with a compass, I headed north. Eighty kilometres and six hours later a 4WD came in the other direction.
The Australian and British tourist occupants informed me that the track got even worse and that I would struggle in the Hyundai.
I was not keen to turn back along the same track to Kabale and continued North.
I made it to Buhoma in the Bwinde National Park, which was an isolated resort where tourists go to visit gorillas in their natural habitat.
Accommodation was a steel bed in a corner of a rondavel and a suspended bucket acted as a shower. Bit of a rip off for US$65, but at his stage I was not about to complain, especially as I found someone to repair the first of many punctures which was a bit of a worry as I only had one spare. But then I don't suppose Mr Avis intended his car to take this route.
Fellow tourists told me not to proceed to Kisoro as Ugandan army trucks going into Zaire had ripped up the track during the wet season and that I would have to turn back to Kabale again.
I was even more determined not to turn back all that way now and got an alternative route sketched out for me by a local.
As usual, knowledge of my destination by local Africans was always quickly followed up by a request for a "brother" to have a lift.
Being in such a position without adequate maps, I was only too pleased to oblige, as I reckoned that their navigation had to be more reliable than my own, which was invariably the case.
The scenery, as was much in all of Uganda, was magnificent with rolling hills of forest, interspersed with terraced cultivation of fruit and vegetable plantations.
One is unlikely to see such a fertile country such as Uganda and one can well understand why former UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan-described it as "The Pearl of Africa", probably the only sensible thing the man ever uttered!
Even during the depth of Uganda's shocking brutal reigns of Obote-Amin, the people never starved because of the ease of growing food.
The flavour of the naturally grown mangoes, paw paw, bananas etc. has to be eaten to be believed. Fort Portal was my destination via Kasese. The latter, I was to read in a Tanzanian newspaper the following week, had been attacked the day after I was there by rebels who killed several locals.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Fort Portal is an attractive town in a hilly area with views across to the Ruwenzoni Mountains and has a lot of history.
However, one of the saddest towns in that one could visualise its past colonial splendour, its buildings now badly decayed and the eerie atmosphere of the looted palace by Obote's thug army.
Despite this evidence of the insane destruction of former regimes, unlike Mozambique, at least under the guidance of their present President Yoyeri Museveni, one can see the effort of rebuilding their country.
Hotels are being renovated, coffee and tea plantations are reopening, and new buildings are being constructed.
The hotel at at Fort Portal was also a bit depressing, named after the area "mountains of the Moon", the romantic name did not come up to expectations, although again one could visualise its charm in days gone by.
It is very similar in style to the "Rhodes of Inyanga Hotel", but the once highly polished wooden floor boards were cracked and the gaps wedged with chip board, the swimming pool empty of water but full of weeds, but no doubt, like many other hotels in Uganda it will be renovated to its former glory.
Another indication of this is that the guide book I used was published in 1992, at which time it was reported that many of the hotels visited were in a poor state but plans were afloat for modernisation.
And sure enough, the ones I visited had been renovated, mainly by returning Asians who are now welcomed back to Uganda.
On to the Murchison Falls which is one of the top places to visit.
I almost didn't make it as I was running low on fuel. No one wanted to change my US$, not even the bank.
I knew there was no longer a black market, but for a bank not to change money was ridiculous.
An Indian eventually reluctantly changed US$100 for me which got me on my way again along a rough 100km road.
They sure know how to attract tourists! Incidentally, Idi Amin actually banned tourism in 1974.
En route I came across a Red Cross Land Cruiser on its side, its African driver sitting on the side of the road covered in blood but not badly injured.
Another 4WD came on the scene, the occupant being an ex-Malawian white who managed the hotel near the Falls.
We got the Cruiser upright and told the driver to report the accident to the police or else he would invalidate his insurance, instead of which the African sped off in the wrong direction with the roof and windscreen crushed in.
The Malawian and myself looked at each other with that knowing look, need I say any more?.
Anyway I had met the hotel manager before even getting there.
The accommodation at the "Sambiya River Lodge" was excellent due to the management. Still the lack of water problem, but at least there was a well maintained swimming pool. Fresh Nile Perch is an excellent-tasting fish, unfortunately no wine to wash it down with, but the Nile beer was good. An American on the next table had caught a 120lb. Perch, only 201b. off the record.
In his words that were repeated many times that evening by him to the extent of gross boredom, it was "God damn Awesome".
The hotel provided a driver and 4WD to take me to the top of the Murchison in the morning as this time the Hyundai would definitely not have made it.
They are not as spectacular as Victoria Falls, but just as well worth seeing. The main section of the falls is where the River Nile is forced through a 3 metre gap in the rock creating tremendous pressure as the water exits forming a cascade up into the surrounding rocks.
To get to the base of the Falls is only accessible by launch, however the three-hour cruise up the Nile was very enjoyable and gave me the opportunity to have lengthy discussions with a white Ugandan who was full of optimism for the country.
Apparently this area is the Mecca for bird watchers, but as I can barely tell the difference between a pigeon and a parrot,
I was quite happy to talk about the country. It seems that President Museveni has united the numerous tribes of Africans, the Asians and Whites into a common desire to repair Uganda and it is working.
Take note Mr Mugabe. Apparently he and Museveni don't hit it off together.
The white Ugandan, or Kazoogas (White Devil) which the Africans nickname the whites told me a true story that when the Ugandan shilling had a few more zeros in front of it, their office in Kampala needed new wallpaper, so they faxed the quote to head office in London for acceptance which had more noughts in it than you could count.
They received the humorous reply "Forget using wallpaper, it would be cheaper to use Ugandan bank notes".
The final leg was a visit to Jinja, 100km east of Kampala, the source of the Nile.
This to me was the part that really brought home to me the decay that Amin and Obote caused.
Street upon street of what would have been once mansions owned by the Asian elite, now in total disrepair with numerous African families living in them. Panoramic views of the Nile and Lake Victoria that in Australia would command hundreds of thousands of dollars now just going to ruin.
There was evidence though of some houses being renovated back to their gracious ways.
Unlike Zimbabwe, Uganda is actually reverting to the old colonial names. There are mountains named Speke, Baker and Stanley, the Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls are all examples of this.
Kampala is a much larger city than I was expecting. Its main suburbs set on five hills. It is probably as large in area as metropolitan Harare. The city centre appeared larger but unfamiliar places can be misleading to the eye.
The Parliament was more impressive and modern. A new Sheraton hotel was impressive and I caused some sideways looks when I entered in my travel dishevelled attire to change some money. But then, no city dweller lives in the real world, so who cares?.
During my travels, many thoughts revolved in my mind. Initial inclination was to the extreme right considering its black inhabitants to be a waste of space who have wrecked a beautiful country.
However, as my travels progressed a more realistic opinion was formed. What angered me most was that whilst all the terror and inhumanity was being inflicted by Messrs. Amin and Obote back in the 1960s & 70s, successive British governments barely lifted a finger to halt the bloodshed.
Yet those same governments were hell-bent in seeking the demise of a self supporting little country called Rhodesia who wished to maintain responsible government and the betterment of all its citizens.
Because of the British weakness they pulled the United Nations' countries into their treacherous little act to see Rhodesia's downfall.
Meanwhile, probably almost one million black Ugandans were butchered to death, its Asians expelled overnight confiscating all their property, businesses and personal possessions.
British governments encouraged its citizens to go out to its colonies to establish businesses for the Mother country to reap the gains.
Then a Prime Minister by the name of Harold MacMillan who purported to be a Tory, swans over to Cape Town and makes his infamous 'Winds of Change" speech, which basically stated that you whites have had it too good, for too long, we are going to give it away now so tough luck.
No training had been given to the Africans to prepare them to take over, and no provisions were made in the constitutions of these countries to safeguard the minority groups.
No wonder Africa is a mess today. Leaders from MacMillan through to Thatcher are responsible for the chaos that has ensued.
We Rhodesians became bitter against the British, but if I was a Ugandan Asian who was left penniless or an African whose entire family had been slaughtered I think I would feel even more bitter towards the British governments.
Uganda has been through two decades of horror and now is rising from the ashes.
One can only hope that they can remain on course. It is a beautiful and friendly county.
In just one week I gained a great warmth towards the place. It is well worth a visit, and I hope to go again.
VAN JOKESVAN'S two 18-year-old twin daughters Hettie and Betty are helping Ma van der Merwe redecorate. They're about to paint a bedroom when Ma sticks her head round the door and tells them not to get any paint on their dresses. So the girls decide to paint the room in the nude. Some time later there's a knock on the door. "Who's there?", asks Hettie. "Blind man", comes the answer. The girls look at each other and decide it can do no harm to let him in. Betty opens the door and in walks a bloke with a bundle under his arm. "Nice boobs," says the guy. "Where do you want the blinds?"
Prince CharlesPRINCE Charles attended a conference on wildlife conservation in Matusadona, Zimbabwe while on his recent visit to Africa. The first night he attended the dinner wearing a foxtail hat. The organiser approached him, and indignantly asked: "Your Highness, how can you wear that?? At a conference like this?? Said Charles: "I don't know. Back home when I told Mom that I was going to Matusadona for a conference she said: 'Wear the fox hat'."