Mission Accomplished

Edgar reflected that the Great Depression had proved to be the perfect time to embark on the capital development of Witchwood because labor and materials were at their lowest level.

Mission Accomplished
Edgar Whitehead looking forward to fishing for bluegill and hunting for ducks on his Witchwood Dam. But war was on the horizon.

Of course the dam took a lot longer and cost a lot more than Edgar Whitehead had initially budgeted but the final cost of £1250 would have been ten times that in normal times.

By now, war was definitely on the horizon, but Edgar was satisfied that they had broken the back of the job. The center of the wall was now twelve feet above the original ground level. He estimated the total earthworks to be about 28,000 ou yards when complete. As the wall got four-and-a-half feet slimmer for every foot it went up, raising it to the final twenty-two feet with plain earth he would leave for the post-war period.

Taking a long draw on his pipe, which never seemed to light, he looked over his expanse of water. Stocking it with blue gill, he was confident too that all manner of ducks would discover his refuge. These commodities would in time find a market in Umtali. The dam would, as hoped, provide water for irrigating the lower part of the farm in the dry season. It would raise the water level in the center of the farm, keeping the grass green for the cattle before the rains broke.

All the same, he would never have embarked on the project if he had realized what it would entail. He had been too young for WWI and was almost too old for WWII, but he was not going to be shut out of this one. He would sign up on the day war was declared. But with Chamberlain's continued policy of appeasement, there was, perhaps, time for one last camping trip...

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.


  • Sir Edgar Whitehead's Unpublished Memoirs, Rhodes House, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, by permission.
  • Photo credit: Sir Edgar Whitehead's Unpublished Photograph Albums, Rhodes House, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, by permission.