Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Reunion with old friends

During the mid-seventies until the end of the eighties we lived in a wonderfully close-knit farming community of sugar cane farmers in a place called Monzi which is situated between Mtubatuba and St Lucia. John was only four when we moved there and Angus was born a year and a half later. 

After our short holiday at Cape Vidal, I'd arranged for us to have a reunion with our friends and to spend the night in Monzi.

Before we actually met up with the friends, we drove through the area. Although it was very much the same, the bush and trees had increased and made the place feel much smaller than I remembered. Of course, the whole place was fenced in with gate guards who gave you a book to sign in before they lifted the boom to allow you in.

I specifically wanted to visit the house where John and Angus grew up. If possible I was going to ask the people living there if I could "take a look around" Mmm. When we drove up our old driveway, we were met by huge razor wire fences AND a large, vicious-looking dog. I took a couple of photos and we left without me even getting a proper look-in at our "old" house. 
 The driveway to our house in Monzi
 Angus recognized the tank on which he and the neighbor's children played. In real life, the dog looked much more vicious than he does on this photo!

I managed to zoom in on our house which had changed quite considerably. The corner which is visible on the left of the photo, were the three large bedrooms Here it looks like a patio had been built onto that part

 On the way out, I photographed the entrance to the company offices and workshop where Grant worked

We drove down to the bridge over the Mfolozi River. I wanted to take photos of the river and the sugarcane flats (fields) which had been swept up 30 years ago by Cyclone Demoina.  Today there isn't any sign of the utter devastation that had hit the area in 1984.  Of course we were living there just meters above the river the day it happened. And yes, I've written a story about Demoina (with which I won an honorable mention in a Writers' Digest competition a few years ago.) But that's another story!
The Mfolozi River below the house where we lived in the eighties. Today it's a peacefully flowing river ; nothing like the raging torrent which was 15 kms wide at this spot after Cyclone Demoina unleashed her wrath on it
 Zulu workers walking through the fields of sugarcane on the Monzi flats
Above are the golowaans (small carriages) which run along rails transporting cane from the farms to the mill in Riverview, near Mtubatuba 
 Another Zulu, a cane cutter, carrying his machete,  walks up the main road towards the supply store 

Finally we drove to my friend, Brenda's home where we'd booked her guest house to stay in overnight. While we waited for the men to return from a ten-day fishing trip in Northern Mozambique, we reminisced and caught up on all the news from yesteryear. Several ladies popped in at Brenda's to have tea and to see us. Brenda had arranged with the remainder of the our friends (who still lived in the area) to meet up at the golf club once the men had returned. This recreational spot had not changed much (perhaps it had been extended) since I last sat in it in the late eighties. 

Soon the ladies arrived and we spent the whole evening chatting up a storm!  These "girls" below had children the same age as Angus and some just a little younger than John. We ladies started the Monzi Play School which our little ones attended twice a week with two mothers supervising alternatively.
From left is Christine (who was the Monzi Librarian and "headmistress" of Monzi Play school) Brenda, whose two sons are in the same age group as Angus; Ruth, Brenda's sister-in-law who has children a little younger than Angus. (Of course, the other two are Rina and me!) 

From right to left: Grant, Keith (Cathy came to meet us at Brenda's home that afternoon), Brian, Brenda's husband. In the blue checked shirt is Bernard, Ruth's husband and Brenda's younger brother; Paul in large black checked shirt, whose wife Karin couldn't make it that night but with whom we had a lovely chat the next morning; Roy, Christine's husband and Ronald, Brian and Brenda's oldest son

We had a good laugh about Grant was dying to meet up with acquaintances wherever we went that weekend.  While we were in St Lucia, whenever a young man (who looked like young Ronald above) walked by, Grant would say "I'm sure that is so-and-so." (and he'd name someone he knew from that era) Eventually after the third time he said this, I said, "Darling, look in the mirror and  you will see what so-and-so looks like now." And lo and behold, when he came face to face with each of the friends, they'd each look at the other and say: "Hey, but you're grey and you have skinny legs and a pot belly. Just like I have!" LOL!  

The strange thing I've found when attending school reunions and later meeting up with adult friends, is that the women are a lot better preserved (for want of a word!) than the men. Do you find this as well?

There were two highlights  on our break in South Africa; one was re-visiting Monzi and meeting up with our friends from the eighties. The other was the family reunion at our Marquard home the day before we flew back to Tanzania. 

I am linking my post to Our World Tuesday hosted byArija Gattina  Lady Fi  Sylvia  Sandy  and Jennif . you can access the blog by clicking here


  1. The lush scenery is lovely!

  2. Jo, your old community is beautiful. What fun to meet up with your old friends..And Yes, the ladies are all looking beautiful. Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing. Have a happy day!

  3. I love the community you used to live in. The countryside is beautiful!

  4. Great life pics from East Africa..!

  5. It is fun meeting up with old friends. It must have been a bit disappointing to see your house wrapped up in razor wire and fierce guard dog. That is how expats have to live in PNG now.

  6. What a nice return to the past !
    It can be sometimes quite disappointing. I once went back to Bonn in Germany, where I lived before moving to Brussels, the building we lived in looked so small, not at all as I had it in my memories ! Of course no neighbors were living there anymore, or they died or they moved away.


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