New Year's Eve in Africa


New Years Eve Dance at the Globe and Phoenix Hall late 1940s Mom and Dad far L standing Mr. Forster 2nd R standing Mrs. Davies seated left Mr. Al Davies 2nd R seated

New Year’s Eve in Africa

In the 1940’s Old Year’s Night was bigger than Christmas.  It began with a dance organized by St. Luke’s Anglican Church.  There was a lavish buffet supper spread at the Globe and Phoenix Hall. Everyone went to the dance. Old and young mingled so that a young girl could find herself floating on the portly stomach of an unlikely dance partner.

New Year’s Eve in Africa

Since the hall was not licensed people used to nip out to their cars to indulge between dances.  There was little snobbery or class distinction of any kind.

In the 1940’s the train was still the main link to the outside world. On Que Que’s New Year, revelers from the dance trooped down to the station to hail the passengers as they passed through on the 2 am from Salisbury to Bulawayo.  Everyone danced on the platform. Some climbed on to the flat roof behind the rounded Cape Dutch gable of the station and cavorted there.  Mom and Dad too joined in the festivities their first year there in 1946.

After the big Garratt engine pulled out hissing and belching, people went ‘first-footing’.  The first port of call was usually to Mayor Harry Watt’s and his brother Reg who ran the local garage.  They were Scots and kept their old traditions.  Traditionally the ‘first-footer’ was a tall, dark and handsome man bearing gifts of whisky and food: harbingers of good fortune for the coming year.

Dad, dark, but hardly tall, and hardly handsome, with only a half bottle of Johnnie Walker in hand, ignorantly crossed the threshold at Harry’s house first. It was not an auspicious start for the superstitious Harry.

Mom promised a full tin of homemade Scottish short bread and a full bottle on the morrow.

Thanks to Mrs. Phoebe Pratt for historical information.