Lessons in Headers and Head Over Heels in Love

Brian Freyberg with his plane, Whizzer,  in the hanger at Ketembellion Farm Ol Molog, Killimanjaro (photo Aug 1961)

Lessons in Headers and Head Over Heels in Love

After the long drive up from Southern Rhodesia Tim Hughes and Ken Wallace  were welcomed by Tim’s Uncle, Brian Freyburg, and Aunt Joan and family to their seaside cottage at Pangani in Tanganika. Ken only stayed the night hurrying on to Mombasa for business.

One day, while driving along a bush track, Brian inadvertently drove his Land Rover into a deep hole. Joan was instructed to reverse the vehicle in four wheel drive while Brian and Tim lifted the front bumper bar. The vehicle was freed but Brian hurt his back badly and was in pain for the remainder of the holiday.

Lessons in Headers and Head Over Heels in Love

The time came to return to Ketembellion Farm, on the western slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Brian and Joan flew back in their small plane, Whizzer, within a few hours while Tim supervised loading the Land Rover with luggage, the five Freyburg children and the servant before heading inland. The journey took all day. Upon arrival Sally complained to her mother, “Tim was very strict about potty stops. He made us wait until he needed petrol. We were bursting!”

The wheat harvest started as soon as Brian returned.  Unfortunately his back was too sore to permit him to drive the massive self propelled header. Tim was given a crash course in header driving, as well as the bull-dozer–wonderful experiences and responsibilities for an eighteen year old.

The ultimate thrill was being allowed to fly the aeroplane as soon as it was airborne. Brian read a book while Tim took over the controls.

“Look Brian there is another plane!”

The book was dropped, “Where? Where?”

“Oh down below us.”

“You had me worried. Tell me when you sight Arusha airport and I will land the plane.”

Tim was affected by the smell of aviation fuel and became sick. Once he realized what the problem was, he wore a handkerchief mask and enjoyed flying from that day on.

Ketembellion Farm was one of eight Ol Molog farms developed by ex- servicemen from World War II.  Isolated in African veld they helped each other and partied together. Tim was attracted to Elizabeth, one of the few unattached girls in the area.  They made a point of seeing each other whenever possible.

To show his appreciation for the help that Tim had given during the harvest, Brian took Tim on a short holiday. They flew to Mombasa for two days, sight-seeing and lazing on the beach. Then on to the island of Zanzibar for more sight-seeing and shopping in the ancient Arab town with narrow streets and tiny shops. Next, they visited Dar es Salaam.

Brian had business in the city to attend. Tim was lent a motor bike and spent the days at the beach, where he met a beautiful girl called Lyn. Her mother sat on the beach, keeping a beady eye on the pair as they swam together. Naturally their large blue beach ball often ended up behind some large rocks at the waters edge and took some time to retrieve.  It was a great place for a quick kiss. Tim fell in love.

On departure, Tim persuaded Brian to fly low and buzz Lyn’s house. Shortly after he received a letter from Lyn’s mother telling him to keep away from her daughter, ‘she is only thirteen.’  She looked about eighteen. He was devastated.

There was another letter waiting for him from his father, Gervas, offering to fly him to England for a year’s Agriculture College course.

“There is nothing that the English can teach a Rhodesian farmer,” Tim told Brian.

Brian replied, “Your father is offering you a holiday for a year, all expenses paid. You will find there are pretty girls wall to wall, not like Tanganyika where you can only find two!”

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.


  • Petrina Lundgren

    Reply Reply July 14, 2022

    A lovely reminder of Ol Molog and the farms on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. My parents lived on Unit No 1, named Ol Kiret, and we obviously knew all the other farmers and their children. The “Whizzer” was shared between my father, Brian and Robin until they owned individual aircraft. My maternal grandparents, on a visit from the UK, looked at the Whizzer and declared that it wasn’t safe with its fabric covering! Taking off on the airstrip at Ol Orien was fine when the wheat was half grown, but when it was ready for harvesting it came dangerously close to the wings.

    I last saw Brian, with his wife Bobbie, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk when I was attending an oil show on behalf of the company I worked for in the United Arab Emirates. To me he hadn’t changed at all and we spent a happy lunch talking about the old days.

    In late 2007 I once again met the love of my life, Nils Lundgren, who had lived with his parents near Ngare Nairobi, after 46 years apart. We spent twelve happy years together, marrying in South Africa in 2017 and were together until he died in Spain in 2020.

    I wonder how many of the families that we knew are still around. Nils and I met Marylin Read (David Read’s niece) in Brisbane in 2010, and I keep in touch with Barbara Freyburg in Australia, but mostly each Christmas. Friends from Sanya Juu and Moshi that I grew up with are in Europe and two of them, now married, live near me in Spain.

    • Diana Polisensky

      Reply Reply July 14, 2022

      Lovely to hear from you. I am so sorry that Tim Hughes has passed. He would love to reminisce with you about Ol Molog. I hope your crowd will respond to rekindle the friendships.

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