Lessons for Life

On the steps of the Giraffe Farm house Tim Hughes bids his father, Gervas, farewell before heading north.

Lessons for Life 

Tim Hughes decided to leave his first job with Ronny McLean in the lower Gwelo district and visit is beloved Aunt Joanie and his Uncle Brian Freyberg farming on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.


Lessons for Life

Tim advertised in the Salisbury Herald to obtain a lift to East Africa, sharing expenses. Ken Wallace answered; he was working at the Kariba Dam project and told Tim to meet him at Kariba. The next day he said his good-byes to Dorothy, his father and his girlfriend Erica, who were used to him making quick decisions.

Bag in hand, Tim hitch-hiked to Kariba and at daybreak the following day they left for the thousand mile journey in Ken’s Jowett Javelin. Sharing the driving, they stayed at serviced rondavels each night; the accommodation, for Europeans only, was built at half day intervals along the Great North Road.

Ken’s car did not travel without problems: the prop-shaft developed a bad vibration. Jowett Javelins have a simple circular universal joint made of reinforced canvas belting and six bolt holes in the belting had enlarged from use. Ken solved the problem by bolting six shock-absorber rubbers in the holes. A nut on the car’s front suspension fell off, allowing the left front mudguard to drop onto the tyre, nearly causing an accident. Without a word, Ken calmly walked out of sight, back down the road, found all the parts that had fallen off, jacked up the car, bolted the torsion bar back in place, put his tools away and took off at high speed.

Instead of using the main road via Tanga, Ken took the short cut to Pangani, Tim’s destination. The car’s sump was holed by a large rock in the middle of the road. Ken patched the hole with a mixture of soft soap and sugar, topped up the oil from his spares and drove to the Tanganyika coast.

Tim’s reaction to Ken’s resourcefulness was admiration.  Thinking laterally would shape the rest of his life.


  • betty goolsby

    Reply Reply August 31, 2013

    Unbelievable! The alternative would be to sit there in the sun until someone came along, who may not know what to do either! I think more people ought to have lessons on how to repair a car and how to be more resourceful in life….more intuition about what could possible be a solution. I am pretty good at coming up with the oddest solutions that work…but there is not much opportunity for thinking like that in places with Wal-Mart, Target, and Auto zone! Tim, you have the most amazing stories…so glad you wrote them all down!

  • Tim Hughes

    Reply Reply September 9, 2013

    Thank you for your encouraging comments. I have been distracted recently with an engineering contract that had to be completed by today! It was and I have only spotted your comment this evening.
    I would love to hear about your problem solving solutions. Please email me.

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