Gervas and Dorothy on the steps of their new home on Giraffe Farm outside Que Que.  The house had been built during Tim’s  4 years abroad.


Heading homeward on the BOAC plane to Salisbury in August 1961, Tim Hughes chatted to an English doctor seated next to him who had been back to England for a month to recruit doctors for immigration to Rhodesia.


He was taken aback when Rhodesian-born Tim said, “The Africans will take over this country in the not too distant future and there will be no place for Whites here.”

“So, have I been wasting my time recruiting?”

“I think so,” said Tim, “I am now an Australian citizen and will only stay here till I know I am right.”

The two men, with plenty to think about, shared a taxi into the city. After a meal together, Tim said goodbye to the doctor and walked to the Salisbury railway station. He bought a second class ticket to Que Que. He had no need for a first class sleeper as he would arrive at Que Que station soon after midnight. While on the platform Tim tried to phone home to say that he would be on the night passenger train. Unfortunately, the telephone operator took so long to connect the line that the train began to pull out of the station before Tim could talk to anyone at Giraffe Farm. He hung up, sprinted to his carriage, tossed his two bags through the open door and climbed on just as the train picked up speed.

Arriving as scheduled, he stepped down onto the low concrete platform. In all the many years since he had used it to go to boarding school in Salisbury as a small boy, it hadn’t changed one bit.

He was back in his home town after four long years but there was no one to meet him! Clutching a bag in each hand he checked the railway car park for a familiar vehicle. Disappointed, sat down on a hard bench in the waiting room.  There was no question of phoning anyone in the middle of the night.

The friendly station master gave Tim a hot cup of coffee. He had just finished it when Dorothy appeared in the doorway.

“Dorothy! How did you know I was here?” Tim exclaimed, as he hugged and kissed her.

She explained the telephone operator had called later and she knew that Tim expected to catch that night’s train.  Wonderful Dorothy had made the lonely dusty journey from Giraffe Farm to town alone, in the middle of the night, not sure if Tim would be there or not! Matambega had gone to bed saying, “If my son can’t make contact with us tonight then he can jolly well wait till tomorrow.”

In the morning father and son were very happy to see each other again and had a warm hug. They had never hugged before.

Gervas Hughes' cook Philip, who had been with the family before Tim was born, standing outside the new house on Giraffe Farm 1960

Gervas Hughes’ cook Philip, who had been with the family since before Tim was born, standing outside the new house on Giraffe Farm 1961

Many thanks to Tim Hughes for this excerpt and photo from his unpublished manuscript Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.