A Rhodesian tale

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Dec 08, 2021, 13:29

Quite funny...an ex Rhodesian mate told me of a fishing trip to the Zambesi ended in a dramatic scare. Young men in those days were rather daring, crazy and wild and one's mispent youth often resulted in bizare endings especially when large quanties of liquor were consumed as was in this case played a role. Extremely inebreated and bored with the fishing they decided to go for bigger things...to catch a crocodile which are plentiful in that section of the Zambesi River. They used a tow rope and tied a large butchers hook to one end and for bait an egyptian goose was shot and affixed.

They tossed it into the river, the one end tied to the stump of a tree and it did not take long before they got a bite. There were 4 or 5 of them and they eventually managed to haul in a seven foot croc after a grueling tug of war, the croc was eventually subdued and bound with rope and sacks bound around the unfortunates large mouth.

They carried it to their truck and put it on the back.

They left with it and on their way home dropped in a their local watering hole and continued their drinking spree...got drunk as skunks with the result they forgot about their victim until they got home took the ropes and sacks off and heaved into the swimming pool.

The next morning one of the bleary-eye culprits decided to have a reviving dip and being non compos mentis the night before found himself staring into the eyes of a rather upset crocodile....hahaha

Anyway the story has a better ending for the croc who was later caught and bound and returned to his home.

Dec 08, 2021, 17:41

I thought you were going to retell the Andy McDonald story….but this is a little less harrowing. Simpler days. I remember surfing at Strandfontein once when a nearby fisherman got smashed by what could only have been a really big shark. No worries, the surf was good that day and we just went on surfing right where he had hooked the shark.

Dec 09, 2021, 17:33

Ah yes the young are indeed invincible.

But many have paid the price for similar acts of stupidity.

Dec 09, 2021, 18:03

Those were the days...the younger people will never know.

What they do today will never come close to what we had...and that was everywhere, SA, Rhodesia, Mozambique, all of Europe and Ireland, Scotland and England.


Dec 09, 2021, 18:47

So true.

Dec 09, 2021, 19:06

A great story teller.



Dec 09, 2021, 19:43

A great story Xavi...the Rhodesians were a strong and tough people and some of the very best of all people...with courage and integrity like their leader Ian Smith. Thanks for that.

Dec 09, 2021, 20:06

Definitely Seb.

His tales of His experiences with RLI in the Rhodesian War are very good. He also has a few videos on the history and founding of Rhodesia.

Dec 09, 2021, 20:39

I did a trip with a mate from Salisbury to Beira in early 1968. We drove through some small Mozambique towns stopping at one for lunch. In the pub were a number of Portuguese soldiers all of whom seemed to be carrying injuries. So we bought them a round of beers.

They became very friendly and invited us to visit the base which seemed to be a hospital camp. Chatting to the 18 year old kids some of whom had serious injuries, none of them had any idea why they were fighting in Africa.

We both agreed Portugal wasn’t going to be around long.

Dec 09, 2021, 21:16

Just listened to that incredible story Xavi….those two guys are lucky to be alive. It makes one think about these safaris when you are sitting on the Land Rover and could literally reach out and touch the Lion. 

Dec 17, 2021, 10:49

This stupid man was taken by lioness and killed whist filming in 1975.

Very graphic.


Dec 21, 2021, 08:09

The story in a way reminds me of what happened in Kenya in the late 1920's and 1930's   Kenya those days were a wild place - but not for the reasons only you mentioned.   Have you ever heard of Happy Valley between expatriates from England and the USA.    Most of the problems stemmed from both alcohol and drugs, resulting in a hedonistic lifestyle - where sex with husband and wife were replaced by sex between  married husbands sleeping with other couples.    It ended up in a disaster for Lord Erroll  who was killed and the murder was hushed up.

It was at that time when Karen Blixen lived on a farm  in Kenya  and although she was not involved in the  Happy Valley set her husband was.    They eventually like most Happy Valley couples got divorced and married their boy and girl friends.

The fact is that there were two movies made about life in Kenya those days - they are Out of Africa and White Mischief..     But there are still descendants of the Happy Valley crowd  and like their forbearers they are not entirely out of the scandal category.

Life an Africa has always been a challenge and people not facing that normally do not survive he ordeals -  they left because of the difficulties lay in the way by the beautiful continent.   People loves it and endure despite the difficulties they have to face.              


Dec 21, 2021, 08:13

Dec 21, 2021, 14:58

Used to know quite a lot of Kenyans in the late seventies and eighties. Even met one very old lady in Hillcrest who knew the Happy Valley set and she was still spritely and related this scandal.

It was in Nyeri and country town east of the Aberdare range...they used to frequent the Muthaiga Country Club.

Josslyn Hay (earl of Errol) was having an affair with another aristocrat's wife, Diana Broughton and her husband Jock Broughton took him out.

He was charged with murder and defended by a South African barrister...I think his name was Adv Morris KC. He was acquitted.

It was a very decadent lifestyle led by anglo-irish aristocracy...booze, drugs and adultery.

I also met a well known racehorse owner in Kenya (a woman who flew planes) in Somerset West, Cape who was involved in the stud farm bottom of Sir Lowry's pass but I cannot remember her name....she was well known.

Dec 21, 2021, 16:05

I did a research, it was Broadlands Stud at Sir Lowry's Pass...it appears it's no longer there.

The lady was Pat O'Neil. Apparently she is also well known for her work with chimpanzees, lions and other animals too. She was a trainer and breeder of race horses and worked with successful horses , jockeys (ie Garth Puller and others) in the Cape.

Dec 21, 2021, 22:43


While residing in Durban I became closely involved in the racing society in Durban and even though not a member or owner I used to have lunch in either the members and owner lounges as a  guest of the Barendse and Aubrey Roberts families. - which included Geff Lloyd and Glenn Schofield.    The great racing laby at the time was Joy Barendse who died in Australia last year at the age of 100 years.  

Being as it may - there was indeed a owner and trainer by the name of Pat O''Neill  who owned and coached horses - but she was basically from Cape Town and I never had the privilege of meeting her.

You surely have heard of Syd Laird the famous trainer.   Anyway - while he was coaching a horse In Cape Town he died from a heart attack on a Tuesday and on the Saturday we were  in Durban having lunch in the owner's lounge as per normal.   I got up and said to Joy I was going to watch the Cape Town race on TV.    Sitting at the table next to ours was Laird's widow and her sister -in-law Mrs Sivewright.    When I go back to the table Mrs Sivewright asked me which horse won - and it turned out it was the horse  Syd Laird was coaching.    With tears streaming down he face Mrs Laird made he following classic remark - "I wonder what odds St Peter gave Siddy on that horse".   Syd Laird was a compulsive gambler who would bet on anything - but that one floored all of us.    

"Those were the days my friend - but it ended and I still miss it.

I heard the story  about Happy Valley the first time  at a party in Pretoria in about  1969 from a couple who moved from Kenya to Pretoria.  They were quite elderly  and told me that nobody would give real  +evidence about the murder of Lord Erroll - neither was the Police much interested in finding out what happened.   There were too many things in that set-up that would have been embarrassing.   .   What was not written was that the later King Edward VIII spent many months in Kenya and his role in the living style of the  Happy Valley crowd  and that would not really made the ROYAL Family look good.    Be it as it may the couple also mentioned that Karen Blixen's husband's widow was still living in Nairobi and they saw her going onto a luxury yacht in Mombasa the year before.   They had difficulty to see the diamond rings covering all her fingers.                           


Dec 22, 2021, 06:54

Well as usual we've strayed indirectly off the original topic but it can be forgiven simply it's out of Africa...indeed there are an abundance of interesting tales and stories emanating from what was once a paradise...totally ruined today. Often think I was born in the wrong era.

Yes Mike King Edward VIII did visit that part quite often. Horse racing was very popular in Kenya and also had characters like Beryl Markham, the first lady pilot to fly across the Atlantic. Beryl was a close friend of Pat O'Neil and it was on her recommendation that she buy Broadlands Stud in Somerset West.

"Beryl told Pat: “Broadlands has a wonderful paddock and horses, ... thoroughbreds and eventually Pat fell in love with South Africa."

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