A Suitable Girl in the Bundu

Gervas Hughes Two Ton Truck parked outside his office and workshop on First Street, Que Que 1928.

Gervas Hughes Two Ton Model A Ford Truck parked outside his office and workshop on First Street, Que Que 1928.

A Suitable Girl in the Bundu 

The sixteen voyages Charles Wylde Hughes made to Africa to visit his sons provided ample opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world.   In 1909, Charles spent time with President Theodore Roosevelt and Frederick Courteney Selous, the famous elephant hunter and explorer, who were friends and hunted together in East Africa.

Once  Charles’ youngest son Gervas came of age, in 1922,  they began  to persuade him  to get married. They were always on the look out for a suitable match.  Gervas would hear nothing of it.  He would choose his own bride.  A decade went by.  Then, by chance,  on a voyage in 1932, Charles and Cecily met a lovely South African girl, Barbara Forster Millard, who they thought would be just right for Gervas.  He informed them firmly he was not interested.

A Suitable Girl in the Bundu  

But Gervas’  thoughts did turn to finding a wife as he moved from town to a hut he had built near Giraffe Spruit on his 5000 acre Greenham Farm, seven miles out on the Gokwe Road, and he began construction of a substantial stone house on the top of a kopje there.

He took a girl out to the New Year’s Eve dance held by the Anglican Church in the G&P Hall.  He arrived in the remains of a model T Ford with ‘Blondie’ Kenward. Hanging on the radiator was a cow’s skull, leather straps secured the bonnet, there were no lights, and the red hot exhaust was easily seen as there was no floor.  Traditionally, those attending brought a bottle of whisky for the men, and a bottle of port for the ladies; these were hidden in the stone wall of the graveyard.  After the third dance people tended to drift away and join the group near the graveyard.  As the evening wore on, he and Blondie had an altercation as to who was fit enough to drive her home.  It ended when they were directly across John Austen’s gate, unable to go forwards or backwards, annoyed with the notice on it:  Passing Early, passing late, play the game with honest John and shut the b…y gate.

It was time to purchase a new vehicle  if he was going to catch a girl without his parents interference. In 1928 he bought the first two and a half ton model A Ford truck in town–but by 1932 it had still failed to attract a girl.

Many Thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the  picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript  Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.





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