| || || || || || Jan - Apr 2009 Magazine |
Mabukuwene Nature Reserve
Fridays 19:00 - 21:00 hrs
Norman's Email address
With thanks to:- Editor - Norman Scott
Distributor: Rowan Francis
UNDER THE PSEUDOLACHNOSTYLIS MAPROUNEIFOLIA
Mr. Bekezela Ndebele is
appointed Provincial Scout
We entered the New Year with the appointment of Mr. Bekezela
Ndebele as the new Provincial Scout Commissioner for Matabeleland.
Mr. Ndebele reaffirmed his Scout Promise during the Baden-Powell
Day service in The St. George’s Chapel, Gordon Park on Sunday 22nd
February, 2009. Congratulations Mr. Ndebele on your appointment.
Our One Hundredth Anniversary year has started off on a positive
note with the holding of our first special event, that of a mini expedition
to Fort Tuli on the Zimbabwe/Botswana border. You will have the
pleasure of reading about our experiences in this edition of Pioneer
Trail. I must add that this event was in addition to our normal active
programme. A bonus to our celebrations is that Matabeleland has had
an above average rainy season, which has added another dimension
to our sojourns into our beloved Matobo hills. The bush has been lush,
to the point of it being 'jungle like'. The streams and rivers have all had
flowing water making our hiking both interesting and adventurous, as
normally the veldt is dry for a number of months of the year, so
necessitating the carrying of drinking and cooking water on hikes.
Our weekly meetings at Mubukuwene Nature Reserve have been held regularly, but owing to the
increased number of electricity cuts due to the load shedding programme, we have had to resort
to improvisation, by using battery operated lamps. I couldn’t help smiling, when there was a call
by World Scouting, which was encouraged by our Association, to take part in Earth Hour on 28
March 2009, in which we were to switch off our lights for one hour to 'send a powerful global
message that it’s possible to take action on global warming'. I feel our national power authority is
doing a very good job for us as it is, as we are all groping in the dark for many hours each week.
Our Scouts are steadily progressing through their scouting badge requirements and hopefully we
will see a number of advancement badges being presented during the course of the year. The
Patrol boxes, which are brought to weekly meetings at Mabukuwene, contain only minimal
equipment such as; lashing ropes, compasses, scouting books and a few other items, as we do
not have any storage facilities at our meeting place. Therefore, much of our scouting is of a
'practical hands on' experience in the Matobo hills at Gordon Park where we store the bulk of our
kit. Fortunately, as I am also the Camp Commissioner of Gordon Park and go out each weekend,
I am able to take with me, those members of the Troop who are free of school commitments on
weekends. Having this opportunity, results in their scouting becoming more meaningful. As we
are on the whole the only Troop in camp, except for the occasional Provincial event, the Scouts
are able to enjoy the solitude of this magnificent camping ground. They have the opportunity of
camping out under the stars in our camp-site, cooking their own meals over open wood fires,
wood for which they have had first to gather in the bush surrounding our site. Having this
opportunity to camp regularly, results in them accumulating a good number of ‘camp-nights’ each
year and they hear the sounds of the night, and on many an occasion, that of the leopard.
The chance of being in the bush with their friends is so beneficial, as they learn to live with others
at an early stage in life and to enjoy the best of their carefree youthful years. The opportunity for
them to develop mentally and physically in a real life situation is worth more than any amount of
instruction in the Troop Den. To me this is the wider aspect of Scouting, which is more important
than merely 'learning skills to progress' in their badge work. In this free environment, the skills
they learn are meaningful. I have signed off tests on many a boy’s progress card to his
amazement and utterances that he has not sat in front of me to be tested. When I explain to him
that he has passed the test by getting involved with the others and doing things right, there is no
need for a formal test. This method of passing a test is less stressful and brings so much real joy
to the boy. Besides instruction in the 'run of the mill' skills of the Scout syllabus, they also have
the opportunity of learning skills of a much wider range, in that of assisting me with the on-going
development and maintenance programmes at the Park.
Admiring our gifts sent by the Scouts
of the 12th Cork Scout Troop, Ireland.
Scouting is world wide, but to make this meaningful to
young people has in the past not been that easy.
However, today with modern technology, communicating
with Scouts around the world has resulted in Scouts being
able to ‘talk’ with each other with the minimal of delay and
cost. This is thanks to Email and Skype, two computer
generated communication systems. Our Scouts have penpals
with Scouts of two Troops, one in Surrey, England
and the other in Cork, Ireland. The more active of the two,
is the 12th Cork Scout Troop, who’s Scout Leader, Philip
Jones ensures a regular communication between our
Troops. He has also sent us a number of gifts, which have
included a Scout shirt complete with badges; loose
badges; a collection of commemorative memorabilia that
was produced for the Irish Scout’s One Hundredth Anniversary Jamboree held last year; their
Troop scarf or ‘neckie’ as they call the scarf and photographs of their Scouts undertaking
activities. These gifts are highly prized and we are very grateful to the 12th Cork Scouts for their
I was very pleased and indeed proud to receive an Email from a former member of our Troop,
Timothy Chadwick. Tim had moved with his family to Canada four years ago and had joined a
Scout Troop. Unfortunately, the Troop was not very active, so Tim left Scouting and joined the
cadets. Within the space of three years and joining at an older age than most Canadians do, he
has risen to the highest rank possible as a school pupil, that of Chief Warrant Officer. With this
rank, he was appointed to the position of Battery Commander, 1st A/TK Reg. RCAC. He included
with his Email, a photograph of himself on the Parade Square, standing out in front of his
regiment, in an immaculate uniform and saluting with a sword, the Reviewing Officer. Tim has
kept in regular contact with me over the years and on many an occasion he has mentioned the
training he received whilst a member of our Troop and how it stood him in good stead in his cadet
training. Congratulations Tim. We Scouts of the 1st in turn salute you and are extremely proud of
your dedication and achievement.
And now it is back to my hammock beneath my favourite Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia with
my floppy hat pulled over my eyes as I dream of the forth coming Centenary Camp to be held in
Gordon Park in commemoration of our One Hundredth Anniversary. 1909 - 2009.
Gordon Park to Rowallan Park
9th - 10th January 2009
Five of us energetic Scouts left for Gordon Park, for our monthly hike. Because of the previous
month’s hike, not all of us were able to come because of sore feet. We dreaded the hike because
it was raining when we got to Gordon Park. So, after some desperate pleading, Norm allowed us
to spend the night at the Park. Phew!
In the morning, Dale and I showed an interest in the grain bins just a few kilometres west of G.P.
So, donning light back packs we set off on our journey and as per normal, Chris lead us off the
wrong way. Something must be wrong with his internal compass!
We got to the overhang under which the grain bin is in no time, as soon as Norm’s lead the way.
At the bins, there was only one, but evidence of at least five others. It is questionable how only
one has stood the rigors of time. No need for photies, as Norm had plenty.
Next stop was Imadzi, a kopje about four kilometres further along the valley. Because of all the
rain, the river was flooding. Yeah! Splash, splat! Even Norm got his feet wet. (And that doesn’t
happen often). We crossed through the water, then bundu bashed through the tall grass to the
dam. No need to say what happened next, but easy equation; Water + Scouts = Mud-fight, with
Dale and I on one side and Brendan and Chris on the other.
Playtime in the dam near Imadzi
Leaving the dam we stopped again for some time where
the main road crosses the field drainage stream from the
Communal Land, and yes, more swimming. The
swimming did not last long, before Norm called us for the
hike back to the Park, this time along the main road.
Before we reached the Park, we stopped for another
swim in the river that flows from the kopjes and under a
bridge over which the road ran. It was great.
We got back into the Park at around lunch time. All in all,
we had hiked 12 kilometres.
My First Hike
6th - 7th February, 2009
We left from Christ the King church dreading the hike, for rain clouds were upon us. The team
was, Declan, Chris, Dillin, Dale, Brendan, Norman and myself. Barry came along to drop us off at
our starting point, Gali. We hit the road and were soon caught up by Shaun, who had arrived late
at the church and raced to catch up with us.
We went to Gordon Park, unloaded everything from Norman’s Landy and put our packs into
Barry’s truck. We then squeezed in, all eight of us and left for Gali. If you thought the roads in
town were bad, the road to Gali was so bad that the bumping around in Barry’s truck gave us
bruises! We dreaded sleeping on Gali because it looked as if it was going to rain, so we found a
homestead with a family and we put up the small trail sheet that Norman had.
We are joined by two children from
the Communal Lands in the Butterfly
We had our dinner and then went to bed. It was cold and
without the trail sheet we would have got very wet. I kept
waking up, freezing my nose off. When the sun came up,
it got warmer. Clouds came over fast, so we ate our
breakfast and set off. We followed the soggy paths and
stopped off to see some cave paintings. My favourite was
the one of a Kudu. We left again to Norman’s favourite
dam. It was spilling water and it was very full. But this
offered only a short rest, as we soon set off again.
We followed a path and got hopelessly lost in trying to
find the butterfly cave. So we went out of the bush and
continued looking until we finally found the cave. We
discovered, we had turned off into the thick bush too
early. On our way, there were vines with thorns on the
ground and boy they hurt when I stood on them. My favourite painting in this cave was the
butterfly. It was cool. As we set off, I was hurt by those mangy thorns again.
We went over Shumba shaba and back to Gordon Park. Besides the lack of sleep, I enjoyed the
hike and I am looking forward to many more.
Family Social Camp
7th - 8th February 2009
Once again, time grew close for the Parents’ camp and I was looking forward to ‘getting away
from it all’ for a short while. Even though there is never any time for slacking on these camps, the
change from one’s regular routine while in such beautiful surroundings is stimulating. Our
greatest concern this time was not whether we would freeze as on a previous occasion, but
whether the heavens were going to open up yet again and drench us - as the rains have been so
wonderful this season and the Park was looking so spectacular. When we arrived the camp was
already well prepared - even the campfire was set up (with distinctly wet looking logs, but we
knew we could be rest assured, that Chris would manage to strike a light)! We quickly made for
the kitchen area to see if the kettle was boiling and enjoyed a quick ‘cuppa’ with Monika and
Cherie McAtier. Only Chris McKenzie was present - the other boys in camp (Brendan Judge,
Dale Van Aarde, Declan FitzPatrick, Dillin McAtier, Kevin FitzPatrick, and Sean Francis) were at
mini Maleme which they later reported, was completely full. The boys had been on the monthly
hike the previous night - from Gali back to Gordon Park, a distance of about 10 km, which was
ideal as it was Kevin’s first hike with the Troop. It seems they had all done well on the hike, and
Kevin had enjoyed the experience and had not been left behind!
Having relaxed briefly we set about putting up our tents, choosing our sites well in case it did
decide to rain. We were surprised when Martin Sanderson seemed to appear out of nowhere -
nobody had heard his ‘Pajero’ coming up the road. He explained that his faithful steed was
impaled on the centre mound a short distance back along the road. The excitement among the
boys was very evident as they went bounding off down the road - an opportunity to go and
rescue the ‘Pajero’! Unfortunately the rescue operation did not take much effort and we were
back at the camp putting up tents again in a short while.
It wasn’t long before it was time to start preparing our evening meal with the usual social antics
that take place around the braai fires. By this time we had been joined by other parents who had
come along for the evening braai and campfire, but who prefer their home comforts to tents.
Preparations for the campfire seemed to unfold quickly after supper and we were soon seated
around the fire and Chris again showed his pyromaniac skills and had the flames soaring high
Elder brother Declan, hands
Kevin his Patrol flash at Kevin's
before long. Norman had asked me to lead the campfire and
by chance I had recently been passed a booklet on how to run
a campfire - admittedly I had concentrated on the variety of
songs included rather than the art of leading the activities!
Judging by the laughter generated by the ‘actions version’ of,
'Old McDonald had a farm', I was not the only one whose limbs
were totally out of ‘sync’ with the words of the song - it’s good
to laugh at yourself occasionally! Soon it was Kevin’s moment
to be invested and I’m sure he will remember the event - he
had been so looking forward to joining the 1st Pioneers for a
long time, but knew he was still too young and that he would be
a Cub Scout for a few more months before moving up to the
Scout Troop. He was overjoyed when Norman suggested he
join now, so that he could take part as a Scout in all of the
events planned to commemorate the 100 years of Zimbabwe
Scouting, this year.
A campfire would not be the same if it were not for Martin - I’m sure I was not the only one who
noticed that the rear of the ‘Pajero’ was loaded with cases and boxes, sure to be props for his
campfire story. We all found the artefacts he handed around and described, so interesting - all
being from the pioneer camp set up near the 'Three Sisters' in 1896, just across the main road
from Rhodes Estate Preparatory School. One could easily imagine being part of a pioneer family
with so many pieces of history to prompt one’s imagination. Martin then went on to tell the story of
a large ant hill in the Gwanda area, which had a hidden entrance and in which people had clearly
sought refuge in times past. More intriguing, is the way Martin musters up the ability to retrace
others’ footsteps, to find places of such interest. After closing the campfire with the traditional hot
chocolate and flapjacks, the city dwellers hived off and left the boys, Norman, Martin and I to our
Fortunately it did not rain during the night so we all slept well, until Norman’s early morning wake
up call for the Shumba shaba climbers, shattered the tranquillity of the early morning. It was
impossible to sleep through the calls, and my hopes of having a quiet lay-in while the others went
climbing were short lived, when I was tasked with making sure camp was cleaned up and the fire
ready for breakfast.
Bekezela joins us in camp
for tea and toast.
After breakfast, Norman went to prepare for the day’s events
and we were pleasantly surprised when Bekezela Ndebele
our newly appointed Provincial Scout Commissioner paid a
visit to our camp. It was wonderful to have Bekazela visit and
to see first hand how the boys of 1st Pioneers were
experiencing the wonders of Scouting.
After yet another cup of tea, it was time to pack up tents and
make preparations for the monthly Service in the lovely St.
The service was taken by Fr. Nigel Johnson and was well
attended by parents and friends of Scouting who have become a regular part of the congregation
at these Services.
The Service was followed by the traditional braai down at the Stables, where Adam had things
well under control as usual - I have noticed that the brass taps are always polished as part of his
routine. Regrettably, the resident wasps nesting in the washing line poles outside the kitchen did
not enjoy our company and took their anger out on Dale - fortunately he was only stung once on
Norman decided to break the normal lazy routine between the braai lunch and afternoon tea, by
involving all present in a lesson on knots - it was great fun to see how easily some people
grasped the concepts while others were seriously challenged. I wonder how many will still
remember the knots or even their names by the next Service Sunday? Our noble efforts at the
tying of knots were rewarded by a wonderful spread of cakes and biscuits at teatime, thanks to
the faithful ladies.
It was soon time to pack up, ensuring that each of the boys had all of their belongings before
heading back to Bulawayo after another pleasant and memorable weekend with the Scouts at
Gordon Park. Our sincere thanks are extended to Norman, Martin and the boys and all who
played a part in making the camp such a memorable occasion.
6th - 7th March 2009
This month’s hike was a non event for the Scouts as they were all involved in re-scheduled
school activities such as sports days and cricket festivals, as a result of sports fixtures being
postponed owing to the good rains that we have experienced this season. These changes were
made at the last moment and as my own calendar of events was fully booked, I could not move
this month’s hike to another weekend.
As I had already organised a friend to help with transporting us out to the starting point of the
hike, after having left Ingulungundu at our finishing point, I cancelled this arrangement as no
Scouts were able to go on the hike. I, therefore, decided to do another route, so that the Scouts
could still undertake the planned route on some other date in the future and proceeded out to the
Matopos on my own. On the way, I gave some thought as to what hike route I would now do and
came up with the idea of driving to a point where I could camp the night and then in the morning
do a circular route so as to end up at my vehicle latter in the afternoon. Ping! An idea. I had been
meaning to climb a kopje named Zhugwe for many, many years, but I had never got round to
doing so. I had always thought that it would only take an hour and so never considered it to be a
hike of its own. So, off I headed toward Zhugwe.
I made camp on a seldom used road deep in the Matopos and as the road was overgrown with
small trees and tall grass it took me awhile to find a reasonably clear spot in which to camp. The
wind that had been blowing for the best part of the day, had stopped, the clouds had dispersed
leaving a fantastically silent evening, not even the chirping of a cricket. I had prepared my dinner
at home before leaving and now all I needed to do was to warm it up and to boil water for tea.
A final mug of coffee
before heading for Zhugwe
As part of the Troop’s One Hundredth Anniversary Celebrations
which will be spread over the next two years, I intend to mount a few
expeditions, so as to make our anniversary really special. Being by
myself, I could now try a few ideas as to how best we could make an
overnight camp that did not take long in setting up, nor too much
trouble in striking. I have done many expeditions in the past with my
former Troop and I had always found that providing shelter for the
night stop could present problems. Having stopped off at Gordon
Park on the way out to collect some additional equipment, I was now
equipped to try an idea. I fixed a small tarpaulin to the roof at the
back of Ingulungundu and using two long tent poles, a couple of guylines,
I had a simply erected shelter. For a larger party, all I would need was a bigger tarpaulin.
I awoke to a really fabulous morning sky with high cirrus clouds tinged with pink from a rising sun.
Having had breakfast, I packed the vehicle and drove off along the track. The track wound its way
down steep slopes and across wide grass covered vlies. In places the water covered the track to
a depth of three to four centimetres. It was not long before Zhugwe came into sight. I parked
Ingulungundu under a tree, donned a small back-pack containing my cameras, buckled on my
belt on which hung a water bottle and with my thumb-stick in hand, off I walked. The grass was
exceedingly tall and thick, so my thumb stick came in very useful in clearing a path. As I have
already mentioned, the rains this season have been exceptionally good and for most of my walk
along gently sloping ground, I sloshed through water. Along what would
normally have been a dry stream bed I stumbled on a picturesque
waterfall. The going was rather tiring as the grass in places was way above
my head and the lush foliage of the bushes and trees hindered my
progress. At last I came to the base of a granite kopje and proceeded up a
ridge. Following this ridge, I soon reached the top of the kopje where I
found a fantastic rock formation. A huge egg-shaped boulder was
balancing upright on three smaller stones.
Continuing and crossing from one granite highway to another, I reached
the last climb which took me to the summit of Zhugwe. What a magnificent
view awaited me, for it was as if I was at the hub of a wheel. Looking to the south, I saw
Mtshlelele dam, to the southwest, Mount Silorswi, then across to the west, Mount Pomongwe,
north-west was Mount Effifi with Mount Inungu to the north. In the north-east loomed Mount
Shumba shaba and in the east, Mount Philo. When finally completing my 360 degree panoramic
view, I saw, on the distant south-eastern horizon, the Isotshe ridge.
Spending longer on the top of Zhugwe than I had intended to, I proceeded down the southern
slope. All went well until I came to a really steep drop of some one hundred metres at an incline
of about fifty degrees. I took my time on this section as the lichen, although dry, crumbled
beneath my feet and therefore, rather dangerous given the steepness of the slope I was going
down. At last, on level ground I could speed up the pace. It was marvellous walking next to a
small stream through the verdant forest. I was even treated to a gorge, at the head of which was
a waterfall. The walk back to Ingulungundu was about four kilometres. At the vehicle, I enjoyed a
late lunch and then drove on to the next area I wanted to have a look at.
bumbled along the track quite contentedly, but on rounding a corner, any further progress was
abruptly stopped, as a large tree had been blown over, so blocking the track. I turned round and
retraced my route stopping off to investigate a small kopje hoping to find Bushmen paintings or
even possibly an iron-age furnace. No such luck, so I continued on to Gordon Park where I spent
the remainder of the weekend.
My hike had only been seven kilometres, but I had climbed the elusive Mount Zhugwe. And what
of my earlier estimate of one hour? Well, I will never be too old to learn that sometimes what
looks easy may not necessarily be so.
14th March 2009
We arrived at Gordon Park at about 10 o’clock, unloaded our kit and then packed a picnic lunch
and set off back to the main National Park’s gate and then onto the Fort Usher road and finally
onto the Old Gwanda road. We drove very far before turning off down a scotch cart track. At the
end of this, we parked the Landy and then headed off on foot. Winding our way through a
beautiful forested area, we finally arrived at Mshashasha falls.
Michael and Christopher
enjoying lunch at
At the top of the falls, we had lunch and then Chris and I made
our way down to the bottom of the falls following the water
course. At the bottom we found a large pool so we had a swim.
Both of us got covered in small leeches that were in the water.
Having had our fun in the pool, we climbed back up to the top of
the waterfall where Norm had remained. We then headed back to
the Land Rover. Christopher and I went ahead and got lost and
could not find Norm on the way back. We eventually found our
way to the Land Rover and Norm. He had taken a different route,
which was shorter. Then the long bumpy drive back to Gordon
Back at the Park, we cooked our supper, cleaned up, took a
shower and then went to bed. It had been a tiring, but fantastic day.
We awoke early, lit the fire and set off to climb Shumba shaba. Coming back down we went back
to camp, tidied up and started to cook lunch, as Martin (Mr Sanderson) had been invited to join
us. I then went exploring in the cave that overlooks the headquarter kitchen. Martin arrived early
for lunch, so we sat and talked with him. Soon after lunch, Martin left, so Christopher and I went
to the Skipper Knapman Training Ground and cut some wood from a dead tree that Christopher
had started to cut a few weeks earlier. At 5 o’clock, we packed our bags whilst Norman was doing
some last minute things. We then locked up and left the camp to go back to town after a lovely
Ye Olde Sausage Sizzle
27th March 2009
We usually start our stories with the when and where we were picked up and so on, but it always
feels a bit too long, so we arrived at the top of a hill where there was a house and out of the
house came a man, who, as it turned out, was Mr Sanderson. So, with a few words to Norm, we
followed Mr. Sanderson along a winding path through his garden, until he finally stopped in a
cosy little clearing amongst rocks and trees. In the middle of this clearing was a fire over which
was a grid and of course where there is a fire, you are sure to find Christopher. We had been
puzzled as to why Chris had not been with us at Mabukuwene from where Norm had picked us
up and now we knew why. He had come directly here to help Mr. Sanderson prepare for our
arrival. So, with a Hi and a Ho we started to cook our food. Out came the mealies, steak,
sausages, potatoes, buns and cold drinks.
Brothers, Shaun and Daniel
with their steam engine
A few jokes here and a lot of laughs there in between
munching on the food is always the best way to get Mr.
Sanderson to tell us a story and sure enough, he had one
ready. From out of a box, Mr. Sanderson pulled out four
thingymajigs and asked us what we thought they were -
silence. He then handed us a bottle of methylated spirits and
told us to pour some into a little tank that we would find
underneath a round brass cylinder. Next we were given a
small bottle of water and told to fill the brass cylinder. When
we had done this we were told to light the wicks on the tank in
which we had poured the methylated spirits. In next to no
time, steam had been created in the boiler and our four little
thingymajigs came to life. Our thingymajigs, were in fact
stationary steam engines. Once the methylated spirits had
burnt away, our steam engines came to a stop.
Mr. Sanderson then showed us some old rusty tins, pieces of pottery, broken plates and other
rubbish. Then he showed us some very old photographs of wagons being pulled by oxen and
even one wagon with a huge steam engine on it. The people in the photographs were dressed in
bush clothes and carried old looking guns. These bits and pieces led into the story by Mr.
Sanderson of when the Pioneers entered into our country at Fort Tuli in 1890 on their way to
establish Fort Salisbury, now Harare. This story was to prepare us for our mini expedition to the
Tuli Circle in a few weeks time. All to soon our time was up, so, with a cough and a stir, we
cleared up and saying our Thanks to Mr. Sanderson for hosting us and telling us stories of the
past, we piled into Norm’s Landy and drove off.
Kantololo River Hike
3rd - 4th April 2009
The fire was glowing as our Troop members sat around it munching on our ready made meals.
We were on our monthly hike in the Matobo wilderness and the majority of the Troop had turned
out. Michael Dodds was our newest member and it was to be his first hike.
As soon as dinner was finished, we all jumped into our sleeping bags, as Norman retired to his
secluded part of our bush camp. Us boys were not tired and so for the next hour we ‘dogpiled’
each other in our sleeping bags and talked about the huge starry milky-way stretching across the
heavens over our heads. Eventually, overcome by tiredness, I fell asleep, oblivious to the night
Light rain woke us up at five o’clock in the morning. Kevin, Michael, Declan, Chris and I pilled into
the Land Rover. Norm, Brendan and Dale, the brave ones, stayed out in the rain.
With breakfast out of the way, we were soon hiking following the Kantololo River in a southerly
direction. The bush was a lush green. Our hike took us along the fast flowing stream. With the
exception of Norm, us Scouts had taken our shoes off and were walking in the water as far as
possible along the trail. All too soon we had to don our shoes, as the hike route turned away from
the river and we followed bush paths to the site of a battle in which Baden-Powell had taken part
in 1896. We stopped for a short rest at the plaque erected by the Boy Scouts of Matabeleland,
one hundred years later in 1996, to commemorate this battle.
We then continued with our hike towards Gordon Park. When we were about five kilometres from
the Park, Norm left us to go back to fetch the Landy and drive back to Gordon Park the long way
round. From here, Chris took over leading the hike back to Gordon Park through the bush and
over kopjes. It did not take us long to reach the Park and some time after, Norm arrived with the
Landy. Sadly, Michael had received many blisters on both of his feet, on this his first hike and
was in much discomfort. Once the fires were lit, we made our lunch and relaxed for a while before
enjoying the remainder of the afternoon at the waterfall behind the Headquarter building.
Tuli Circle Mini Expedition
15th - 18th April 2009
As this year is our Troop's One Hundredth Anniversary, this mini expedition had been
programmed as one of our special events to commemorate the year. To start the year off in this
locality, The Tuli Circle, was no accident, for it was at this very place that the Pioneer Column on
1 April 1890, crossed into our country from Khama's country (Botswana), and only nineteen years
later, in 1909 our Troop was established. And to think, this was just two years after world
Scouting was established. Our anniversary celebrations just had to begin at this most historic
The expedition members were Barry Knight with knowledge of local history and a Land Rover
Discovery, Martin Sanderson with knowledge of local history and wit, Christopher Mackenzie with
cooking skills and unending energy, Dale van Aarde with non-stop chatter and loveable
personality, Brendan Judge with helping hand and comments, Declan FitzPartrick with logical
solutions and mathematical preciseness, Dillin McAtier with bottomless sweetie bag and
generosity, Kevin FitzPatrick with laughter and courage, Matthew Dodds with his reticent nature
and measured reactions and then Norm with Ingulungundu and a lot of patience.
Our meeting place was at Woodlands garage at 07.00 hours on Wednesday 15 April. Barry being
Barry was 45 minutes late, but he got away with it because he was one of the 'main manna that
counts', he had also collected Martin and he too, was invaluable to the expedition. As there were
ten of us on the expedition, the division of numbers was simple, five to a vehicle. The journey to
Gwanda was uneventful. Fortunately Dillin was in Ingulungundu with Norm and he had the
foresight to bring a box of tasty meat pies 'to keep the wolf from the door'. Added to this,
Christopher had a large bag of popcorn, so Norm was in his element as we sped towards Fort
Tuli. On our way through Gwanda, we collected the keys for the Shashi Wilderness Camp
(Wildlife and Environment of Zimbabwe Camp) at Fort Tuli, where we were to stay for the
duration of our visit.
We were on a tar road for most of the way, which made the going pleasant. The last seventy
kilometres was a rather washed out, corrugated, hard gravel road, along which our teeth rattled
loose as we proceeded. The descent from the highveld of Bulawayo at 1490 metres, through the
middleveld of Gwanda, to the Lowveld of Tuli at 270 metres, was noticeable as there was a
change in temperature. It got warmer. The vegetation changed too, Fort Tuli is in a much drier
region and therefore, the grass is tougher and the trees stunted, mostly Mopane and thorn scrub.
Even the ground was cruel, being composed of jagged rocky outcrops of basalt and calcite
On seeing the Shashi River on our arrival, Dillin describes it thus:
The Shashi is about six hundred metres wide with small channels of water and many sand dunes.
There were sharp reeds along the edge by the river bank. Surface water in the Shashi begins
to dry up around this time of the year and so there was sand everywhere. Shallow but wide
streams of water brought the Shashi back to life as it glistened in the sunlight. Across the river
there were many trees along the bank. This side too there were many enormous trees. Birds flew
in and out along the vast Shashi River to drink and bath.
The banks of the Shashi River were awash with thick riverine vegetation. No, this is not a mistake
in the river's name for Fort Tuli is actually located on the southern bank of the Shashi River and
not the Tuli River. This is because the Pioneer Column, being guided by Captain Frederick
Selous, mistook the Shashi River for that of the Tuli.
Ball game on the sands
of the Shashi River
mistake has remained and Fort Tuli, it is. The Shashi
Wilderness Camp is located on the northern side or the left
hand bank and this is where our little convoy of two vehicles
Kevin has this to say of our arrival in camp:
As we got out of the Land Rovers we saw the Shashi. We
unpacked our luggage and then headed towards the large river
which was about six hundred metres wide. Within minutes we
were splashing away, playing games and having fun. We swam
around catching fish.
Brendan's description of the camp:
The Shashi Camp has three big thatched buildings overlooking the great Shashi River. There is a
dining-room / kitchen and two dormitories with ten beds in each. In front of the dining hall there is
an enormous Weeping Boerbean tree. (Schotia brachypetala)
Water for the camp is pumped from the river through a perforated pipe buried under the sand into
an overhead storage tank. The old, six horse power Lister diesel engine driving a centrifugal
pump commanded a great deal of attention from all of us and an old fashioned 'Rhodesian
boiler' provided us with hot water in the showers.
Our arrival time coincided with lunch time, so tables and benches were moved outdoors under the
shade of huge trees on the soft sand of the river bank. Following lunch everybody once again
headed down to the river, only twenty metres from the camp, to swim, build sand castles and
terrify the fish. The day ended with a glorious sunset directly opposite our camp. Chris was in
charge of the kitchen, cooking to washing up, throughout the camp. He did a first class job,
earning a gold star for each meal. And need I add that he was in his element in building the camp
fires each night. Well, huge bon fires, the coals of which he cooked on in the mornings. Much of
the wood he used was Combretum imberbe (leadwood) which is one of Zimbabwe's hardest of
The Knighting of 'Sir Kevin
FitzSlashtrick' and 'Sir Declan
One unfortunate incident occurred just after dinner when
Dillin, while on his way to re-fill the kettle, tripped and
splashed hot water down the right side of his body. We
rendered first aid and although feeling very sore and shaken
from the experience Dillin joined us later on at the campfire.
During the afternoon, the FitzPatrick brothers whilst playing
in the river raced each other back to the river bank.
However, neither of them saw a submerged sand bar about
a metre from the bank. In unison they tripped, fell and
splashed flat on their stomachs into the water. At the campfire
that first night, Martin, whilst seated in his camp chair
called them forward, asked them to kneel in front of him and
then using his "sword", actually braai tongs, he knighted
them by laying his "sword" on their shoulders in turn and saying as he did so, "Arise Sir Declan
FitzSplashtrick" and "Arise Sir Kevin FitzSplashtrick". Needless to say, their new names have
TIngulungundu sinks into the
soft sand of the Shashi River
on the return journey
Chris records our crossing of the Shashi on Thursday morning:
We left the Shashi Wilderness Camp and went to the National
Parks Office to ask their permission to cross the River into the
Tuli Circle. We wanted to visit the Fort. The Warden said a
National Parks Ranger would go with us. Then we set off towards
the River. At first it looked as if we would not be able to get
across. It was quite fun sitting on the front of the Land Rover. The
water came up to the bumper of the Landy. When we came to the
sandy parts of the River the Land Rovers could steer themselves
in the deep tyre channels left by other vehicles.
The crossing of the river in our Land Rovers, was a re-enactment
of exactly what the Pioneer Column did, by ox-drawn wagons,
over one hundred years ago, (in the opposite direction). Our mission was to fossick amongst the
remains of the area of Fort Tuli and hence our crossing.
Declan and the Pioneer Cemetery:
After crossing the Shashi River the first place we visited was the Pioneer Cemetery. It was
square, and around it there was a trench about a metre wide and a metre deep. This was to
prevent elephant and other animals from getting amongst the memorials. Most of the people had
died from malaria. The youngest was just seven months old. The oldest was forty-three years old.
Most of the crosses were made of steel but some were made of marble and were very elaborate.
The place was overgrown with thorn bushes.
Then to the fort, where Dale tells us of the gun emplacements above the laager site:
We arrived at the Fort and immediately started to find and identify objects. We decided to head to
the top of the hill where there were gun emplacements and also a telegraph pole from about 1890
which was used to help relay messages. The pioneers also used mirrors to send messages from
place to place. We explored the area and one of the Scouts (Dale) kept on finding nails. We then
took a scenic route down, finding a cocoa-powder tin lid on the way. Another Scout decided to
get Norm and Barry lost. Mr. Sanderson decided to go and discover what some foundations were
From the fort, we proceeded to the Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) that had the faint scars of
people's names having been carved into its trunk.
Finally, on our way back to camp, Michael records our rummaging through the Pioneer Midden
The midden was full of tins. For example condensed milk, bully-beef, sardine tins. After searching
around and finding all sorts of interesting bits and pieces, Martin sat us down and talked to us
about all the old artefacts and told us about how the manufacturing of the tins and other items
were different from to today, e.g. how the bully-beef tins were shaped in a different way and
soldered together differently.
Early on in the afternoon and in true ceremonial style, Barry called everyone together and then
calling Chris forward, presented him with a lump of meat. We all looked at it. After several
attempts in trying to recognize what it was, Dale got it right. It was a portion of elephant trunk,
complete with two nostrils. Well, Chris set to and prepared for us, using a cast-iron three legged
pot, a magnificent stew. Dinner that night was something really special. This was a first for all of
us, but no doubt a common meal for those of the Pioneer Column.
Members of the Troop noted the following species of trees in the immediate area of the Camp:
Weeping Boerbean (Schotia Brachypetala)
Fever Berry Tree (Croton megalobtrys)
Leadwood (Combretum imberbe)
Rain Tree (Lonchocarpu capassa)
Mopane (Colophospermum mopane)
Buffalo Thorn (Zesiphus macronata)
Umbrella Thorn (Acacia tortilis)
Ana Tree (Faedherbia albida)
Sycamore Fig (Ficus sycomorus)
Troop Surveying Activity.
Having established the length of the tow-rope (50 metres) borrowed from Barry, members of the
troop waded through the braided rivulets between the sand spits of the Shashi and further
established the width of the River at the Camp-site as being 580 metres.
Our last full day in camp was spent in playing in the Shashi River, restocking the wood pile and
the pumping of the water storage tank for the next intake of visitors.
The Seven Dwarfs. Declan, Michael,
Kevin, Dillin, Christopher, Brendan
Our journey back to Bulawayo was broken about thirty
kilometres before we reached Gwanda, when we turned
off the main road in search of Mchela cave marked on the
map. After searching around for some time and asking
the local people for directions, we eventually found it. It
turned out to be a huge cave with some fine San
The world is very big,
We arrived back home at three o'clock, very tired but
excited at having enjoyed our expedition.
We offer a sincere Thank You to Martin Sanderson and Barry Knight for making our expedition so
And the final words are from Martin:
The fun and pleasure each of the Scouts had was obvious throughout the three and a half days.
Thank you and them, very much, for inviting me to be part of the expedition along with Barry. I too
enjoyed the experience of having a real adventure into the wilderness and into the past.
The Scouts of the 1st Bulawayo (Pioneer) Scout Troop.
The number of its people overwhelming.
But listen for the laughter,
The words of kindness.
Let them give you courage - so that you in turn can bring to every life,
Concern and gentleness,
Hope and delight.
1st Bulawayo (Pioneer) Scout Troop
'Celebrating One Hundred Years of Scouting'1909 - 2009
Troop Programme of Activities for May - August 2009
1-2 Monthly Hike
10 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
5 Schools open
8 Troop Meeting
15 Troop Meeting
22-25 Troop camp
29 Troop Meeting
5-6 Monthly Hike
12 Troop Meeting
13 Boy Skills Course (Provincial course)
14 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
19 Troop Meeting
20-21 Parents camp
26 Troop meeting
3-4 Monthly Hike
4 Chuck Wilcox Art and Craft Competition
10 Troop Meeting
12 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
17 Troop Meeting
24-26 William Arnold Carnegie Assegai Competition
31 Troop Meeting
6 Schools close
7-11 Zimbabwean Scouting Centenary Camp: Gordon Park
9 Zimbabwean Scouting Centenary Service: Gordon Park; 12.00 noon
14 Troop Meeting
21 Troop Meeting
28 Troop Meeting
Additional Activities may be added to the Programme