Keeping One's Cool

Edgar put out an advertisement for a span of fully trained oxen, which he purchased reasonably cheaply in Umtali. He had to build a night kraal quickly before they arrived. Winter was coming on.

Keeping One's Cool
Edgar's Witchwood labor force of twenty-six had lived there for hundreds of years.

He and Ferguson sited the kraal below his proposed cattle buildings, where water was available. The oxen arrived the day the kraal was finished.  By chance, Ferguson had gone to town overnight to do chores, to be followed by a luxurious hot bath and to enjoy the camaraderie at the hotel bar.

About half past three in the afternoon Edgar went down to check that the oxen were securely housed for the night and could not get out.

On his way back from the kraal he saw a large full grown leopard standing on the path between the cattle kraal and the hut which contained his rifle. 

The leopard showed no signs of getting out of his way, bounding above the unfinished house. He rounded up his workers and had them form a line of beaters to drive upwards while he made a detour up the road to pick up his gun at his hut and then intercept him.

The leopard broke cover onto the road about half a mile above the house. It next appeared near the skyline above Edgar, running fairly fast in front of the beaters. He fired a shot at about seventy yards but missed.

The leopard came bounding from rock to rock down the hill straight towards him.  Never, before or after, did he take greater trouble over the accuracy of a rifle shot.  He fired the second time when the leopard was about thirty yards away. Fortunately, the bullet went right into his chest and passed clean through his body killing him instantly.

The skin was superb. Edgar had it very carefully dressed and sent back to his sister, Frances, as his first present from the farm.

This incident raised his standing among his twenty-six African workers. It gave them confidence that he could provide them and their animals a protection that they had not previously enjoyed.

Umzimtuti Series

Check out both books on Amazon


The historical novel Whitewashed Jacarandas and its sequel Full of Possibilities are both available on Amazon as paperbacks and eBooks.

These books are inspired by Diana's family's experiences in small town Southern Rhodesia after WWII.

Dr. Sunny Rubenstein and his Gentile wife, Mavourneen, along with various town characters lay bare the racial arrogance of the times, paternalistic idealism, Zionist fervor and anti-Semitism, the proper place of a wife, modernization versus hard-won ways of doing things, and treatment of endemic disease versus investment in public health. They are a roller coaster read.


  • By permission sourced from Sir Edgar Whitehead's Unpublished Memoirs, Rhodes House, Bodleian Library, Oxford University.
  • Photo credit: By permission Sir Edgar Whitehead's Unpublished Photograph Albums, Rhodes House, Bodleian Library, Oxford University.