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The Boy Scouts Association of Zimbabwe
Firelight Magazine

Province of Matabeleland

Being a Scout in Matabeleland is fantastic

The views and opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Boy Scouts Association of Zimbabwe.

February 1999




HARRY BLOWERS 1912 – 1999

My father, Harry Branton Blowers, was better known to most of you here as Hank. I have known him all of my life, 57 years, but I am conscious that many here today have known him much longer than that and could perhaps add considerably to what I have to say.

He was born at home, on the 26th November 1912, at Sidgate Lane, Ipswitch Town England. His father and his grandfather were both carpenters and his mother was a schoolmistress – so he came from a very ordinary family. He was educated in England, he matriculated at the General School Examination, captained his school rugby team, its hockey team and its cricket team. He spent his holidays in the countryside and joined the Scout movement.

Then, after six years with County Education, in the Works Stores and Finance departments, he applied successfully to join the British South Africa Police. He spent the rest of his life in Africa, a total of 63 years. So many changes have occurred in these 63 years, material changes, social changes and political changes.

Such changes as could hardly be imagined by the young man of 23, when he arrived in this country in 1936 with a group of other recruits, to join the police force. The journey by boat and train took them some three weeks, and when they finally arrived at the railway station, at the place called Salisbury in those days, they were met by an ox-cart which had been sent to take them to the police camp. He had many characteristics that suited him to the life he had chosen, and these characteristics enabled him to weather the changes that were to come.

He was a shy man. Difficult to imagine when one considers the positions of leadership he later filled. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sergeant at Arms of the House of Assembly, President of the Boy Scouts Association. As we have already heard his success in these positions is attested to by a string of awards, including the Golden Lion for Scouting services and Queens honours of Member of Legion of Merit and the Queens Police Medal.

His work necessitated he overcome his shyness but he remained a quiet, private person. Humility was another characteristic of his. He was never one to boast or even talk of his achievements. In private he was sometimes dismissive of the work he had done. A few years ago, persuaded to put down on paper some of the milestones of his life, he said this about it – "Sometimes I feel my life has been a bit tame, however when I look at these notes, and some of the details, I accept that I have managed a fair amount in my 84 years" that was two years ago so it is now 86 years.

He believed in service, service to his country, to its government, to its people, to his family and his friends. His whole life was one of service, in the police force, in the fifteen years of Parliamentary work, in his long dedication to the scouting movement, in his church where he acted as a server at communion or as a guardian of this cathedrals cloisters.

For many years he also served as companion and nurse to his dear wife Ruth who was handicapped by a life injury. She died in 1979 after they had been married for 39 years.

He was a leader and an educator too in his way. He greatest strength was that he led and taught by example. He himself had to work by the rules he set, then he could persuade others to follow. He was guided throughout his life by his religion and this governed the standards he set himself. He was completely honest, he never used any of his positions to secure personal gain – an example that is probably more relevant today then ever.

He always dispensed his services without favour, irrespective of race or religion. He mastered Shona and Nyanja soon after arriving in the country and, with an eye to the future he used his abilities to guide, educate and train wherever possible.

Dedicated as he was to work and other duties, he always welcomed the chance to escape to the bush to go fishing or camping. In my youth we were always taken camping once or twice a year. In his usual precise, ordered manner, he would meticulously compile lists of everything needed for the camp. Rice, porridge, sugar and so on. The number of people, the number of meals requiring so many ounces of this and so many ounces of that everything was calculated. The only problem was that his children’s appetites were bigger than his and we invariably arrived home from camp hungry. I just hope that this did not happen too often on the many scouting expeditions he led. He was precise and ordered like that, nothing left to chance, there should be no double, and it was the same in play as it was in work.

In his latter years, when no longer able to go camping, he would delight to sit in his garden, watching the weaver birds building their nests in the bougainvillea and bringing up their own families.

In his later years he was increasingly troubled with arthritis, circulation problems, failing eyesight and hearing. This did nothing to diminish his energy, it merely slowed him down. His brain remained sharp. He was still ready to take on things, even in these difficult circumstances, should anyone call for his expertise and experience.

My lasting memory will be of him, grey bearded, his glasses on the end of his nose, hunched over his typewriter, picking at the keys, then reading what he had typed with a large magnifying glass, his face inches from the paper as he laboriously corrected his script with white out. He worked this until the last weeks of his life.

He was an example to us all.

He will be sadly missed by his family, by his wife Grace and her mother, by his sister Kay in England, by me and my family in the antipodes and by his late daughter Joan’s family in the States.

He will be missed by all who know him.

May he rest in peace.


A Tribute To Scouting

Brother Scouts, taking a glimpse into the present day conditions of the world, it is appropriate and timely to say that noble character is the basis to the solution of all our societal problems, be they political, social, economic and religious. So as we celebrate the birthday of our Founder. It is time to take stock of how the movement has faired in trying to improve the world. The Scout Movement prides itself of its ideology of serving mankind.

It propagates a philosophy of life that requires one to think of others before himself, to raise the self to great moral heights and to be a friend to all in an effort to make this world a better place to live in.

There is a great need to re-establish good values in our society through scouting. There is need to bring love in place of hatred and faith in place of suspicion, friendliness and co-operation in place of rivalry. Remember that sympathy and co-operation can eliminate poverty from the world and friendliness can put a stop to all wars. This we believe should be the mission of the Boy Scout movement as envisaged by Baden-Powell.

The principles of scouting have stood the test of time for scouting does more than produce good citizens, and men who are noble. It indeed also compliments our present school system. Our aims of character building and attaining emotional maturity cannot be fulfilled unless education is value based. Scouting therefore compliments education in such areas a informing individuals of accepted norms of public morals. It enables individuals to liberate themselves from tendencies of jealousy, violence, vengeance and retaliation.

God bless the spirit of Scouting, and long, live the spirit of Scouting!


It is with great sorrow that at the time of going to press we received the sad news of the passing away of Major Harry Branton Blowers, a man who committed all his life to the Scout Movement.

May his soul rest in peace.


Cost Effective

A man walked into a bar and drawing a stool, heaved onto the seat pushing his huge stomach against the counter. With a loud authoritative voice he soon shouted " When I drink everybody drinks!" What joyous jubilation this man brought into the bar, a complete stranger just popping in to buy everyone present a beer? He must have been stinking rich.

Patrons drank like they were drinking the night away, gulping down the ‘free’ beers like tap water but after a few hours, the man soon felt he had had one too many and it was time to go so slowly standing up from his seat, he carefully pulled out a fat wallet from his hip pocket, gulped down the remaining liquor in his glass and in the same voice as before, slowly announced "When I pay …… everybody pays"!! Ugh! You can just imagine what chaos this brought to the bar. Ignoring everyone he paid his own bill and left those who thought they had been having free beers to suffer the consequences.

But why all this bar stuff? You might want to know, yet there are lot’s of us who like the patrons that wanted free drinks, want to enjoy the joys of scouting without paying the price. The near past has been coupled by numerous complaints about ever increasing costs like prices of uniforms, camp fees, etc. The latest being last month’s article which quoted the cost of sending three patrols to the National Competition at $13 000with some Leaders calling for either its scrapping or for having only one patrol per Province participate. The other fellow agrees with you that $13 000 is a lot of money but surely in Zimbabwe, in the late 90s, did you expect it to cost $200? One Scout tells me at the same time ten years ago, one would pay not more than $5 for a weekend camp yet ten times as much, $50, won’t take you very far nowadays which is true.

You might say ‘zvakapressa’ and this and that and complain that the cost of scouting is increasing uncomfortable but you chose the game and to stay in it just pay the price. I gather that uniforms have just gone up 20% and would like to say I won’t be surprised if Matabeleland Scout Council proposes an increase in annual levies at the soon to come Annual General Meeting.

For heaven’s sake what we really need is sound financial backing through real fund raising efforts. It is high time people stopped talking and complaining and started acting towards countering the problem. Scouts are very creative persons who can initiate real income generating projects if only they could spare the time.

If you want a roasted chunk of rabbit meat, then knowing the cunning ways of the rabbit, you must have a cunning way to catch it. Let’s not just say Scouting is now expensive yet we go on and do nothing about it.

Get Up! Stand Up! And Fight!


(Adapted from a Boy’s Prayer Diary by Leonard Barnett)


A young boy knelt down to pray one night – ‘Dear God. Thank you for keeping me through the day today. Please guide me through the night until tomorrow. Amen’ Then he slowly tucked away to sleep.

But why do we pray? you may ask. ‘Verily , verily I say unto you ‘Do you know the rules of health?’ To which you may answer ‘food, drink, fresh air and exercise’. Very good! I shall say but that is bodily health, what about the health of God’s temple – the soul in you. An author once put it as ‘the real ‘me’, my soul or spirit, which must learn to live, to grow strong and sturdy, making me a fit soldier of Christ, a dependable citizen or his Kingdom, obedient to Christ’.

The reading of the Bible, regular worship and fellowship with other young and older religious persons are like food and drink to build inner strength. But the daily prayers are the most important food of all for Jesus Christ, said ‘Abide in me, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abideth in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abideth in me’.

Brother Scouts, are you maintaining your ‘real’ health?



The year 1998, was characterized by a drop in Scouting numbers. I believe this was due to a tendency slowly gripping province. This is generally the idea of taking leave from Scouting. How can we take leave from a philosophy. Baden-Powell once said "Scouting is a way of life". So how can we take a break from our way of life. In 1999, let us rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Scouting by doing our best.

Remember once a Scout always a Scout.





20-21 FEBRUARY 1999

The Millennium Countdown: Camp 2 will be held on 21-22 February 1999, at Gordon Park, Matopos. The theme for this year is fun and muddy, so be prepared for some great fun for that’s what scouting is all about.

Those unable to attend the weekend camp can attend the B-P Day service to be held on Sunday 21 February 1999 in the St Georges Chapel to mark Baden-Powell Day.

More information is available at Provincial Headquarters.



Once again the spirit of Baden-Powell is upon us, as it always is during this time of the year for on the 22nd of February , we in the Scouting community join over 25 million scouts all over the world to celebrate the birthday of a man, who championed the cause for international peace and understanding, 33 years of his life were dedicated to the development and growth of young people throughout the world. His aim was to leave this world a better place and we at Firelight believe he did.

So as usual we reproduce below the last message from B-P We hope that it inspires you to even greater heights.

Dear Scouts.

INTERNATIONAL SCOUTING (Whats the way forward?)

It’s quite disappointing to receive postcards from Scout penpals …writing from the World Jamboree asking if there are any Bulawayo Scouts at the Jamboree.

One wonders why a Province with three thousand plus scouts fails to send at least one scout to the world event which comes only once in four years.

Our friends up there in Mashonaland managed to send more than five scouts whilst we always claim that we are the best Province in this country, is iis it because that’s where money is easily available or is it because Harare is ‘Bambazonke’.

I sincerely believe it has been the zeal of the parents, Leaders and the Scouts to attend such events which seems to be lacking with us here. When we think of going outside our borders we only think of going across the Limpopo perhaps to visit friends and families down South.
The other major reason for us failing to attend such events has been poor planning. People start planning attending international events only three months before the said date.
With the state of our depleted Zimbabwe dollar, it would take one about three years to raise an air ticket. So for those who are thinking of attending the next Jamboree in Thailand in 2002, the time is now, whilst those from the Chilean jamboree are unpacking their rucksacks, we need to seriously start fund raising.
It is not a case of the whole Group or Province attending International events. One scout attending would indeed act as a good ambassador for the Province. He would indeed market the vast tourist attractions, we have in the Province. This would also encourage Scouts from abroad to visit our beautiful Zimbabwe

The way forward ……………..
It is imperative that a committee be set up within Province. The committee will be responsible for fund raising for all international events.

Next on line is the Michigan Camporee 2000, World Jamboree 2002, and the 2007 Jamboree in the United Kingdom to celebrate 100 years of scouting. As a Province I believe, we will have failed if we do not send a single scout to any of these events.
Brother scouts think seriously about this issue, for our reputation depends on it.


This month my contribution to ‘Firelight’ is aimed at Cub Leaders and their assistants, that is if we have any Cub Leaders?
It seems to me that we only have a handful. Certainly there are only four who attended our Seeonee Pack Meetings we held last year. This is a shame, because the meetings are informal training sessions, besides being a time when we can discuss problems/achievements etc., with more time and in a relaxed atmosphere, infact we can probably learn more than on a Wood Badge Course which has to be rather formal and hurried to accommodate all the sessions I have said it before! We hold the meetings once a month on the first Wednesday, starting at 5 pm – 6.30 pm You are all welcome. The more you come the more input and output and we all benefit.
I wonder how many of your Cubs reach silver or gold arrow level and how many Cubs are awarded any proficiency badges? From records at our Scout shop it appears that not one cub proficiency badge was sold during 1998! Some groups order their arrow badges in bulk, which is acceptable, but the proficiency badges can only be sold on producing badge certificates to Mr Moyo who runs the shop.
Who tests your boys on their proficiency badges? It should not be Akela (most of the time). This is a chance to draw in your parents or experts in particular skills, who are known to you. My late husband was a police photographer and enjoyed testing boys from different packs on their photographers badge. Although I trained my own cubs for their First Aider Badge, they were tested by personnel from St Johns Ambulance Brigade. Why not try asking Agritex for help with the Map Reader’s Badge or a member of the Wild Life Society for the Naturalist Badge.
Encourage your boys to work for their proficiency badges. Most of the badges can be the individuals’ effort, but the swimmers/cyclist/athlete badges can be organised by you for the whose pack to participate, but do find ‘experts’ to do the testing. We will shortly be affiliated to the Matabeleland Swimming Board and then their qualified staff can test our Scouts and Cubs. In this way we can set a high standard for these badges and Scouting will be seen to be an ideal all round training for a boy. Let the boy realize that he has to produce worth while results to be awarded the badge.
A different approach should be used for the arrow tests. Each boy must be judged on his capabilities. Know each boy individually and set the standard for that particular boy. If he is a very bright boy set him a higher standard than a slower one who really struggles, but ‘does his best’. This is the cub motto and serves as a rule to judge each boy. So come on Akelas, where are you ? Must I sit alone at our Seeonee Meetings!


Seeonee Pack Meeting : PHQ 5.00 pm
General Information Course
Gordon Park Service : 12.00 noon
Matabeleland Scout Council’s
Annual General Meeting: PHQ 5.30 pm
Millennium Count Down : Camp 2
Baden-Powell Day Service
28] Basic Scout Woodbadge Course


It was with saddness that Province learned of the death of ‘Hank’ Blowers in Harare on Friday 22 January 1999.
On behalf of all Leaders, Scouts and lay supports in Province, I wish to express our sympathies to the family and to say that Hank’s service to Scouting, especially those Leaders who attended his Woodbadge courses, was greatly appreciated. Hank’s input to the writing of our Adult Leader Training scheme will long remind us of his dedication, through Leaders of Scout Troops, to the youth of Zimbabwe.




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