Perseverance Pays Off


The Opening of the Que Que Minicipal Swimming Bath 1953 by Governor Sir John Kennedy

Perseverance Pays Off

Some days, months and even whole years slip by uneventfully and we wonder, looking back, what ever happened to them.  Occasional ones are banner years: 1953 was one of those, not just for our family but for Southern Rhodesia as a whole. With ‘unity is strength’ in mind we joined forces with Northern Rhodesia and charitably, as well, with poor Nyasaland and made a Federation.  Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother came to open the Central African Rhodes Centenary Exhibition in Bulawayo.  It was a top hat and tails affair to celebrate just how far we had come as a country since Rhodes’ pioneer column first marched into Matabeleland with his privately raised British South Africa Police (BSAP) force in 1890.

Perseverance Pays Off

Mom and Dad  had done their part in criss-crossing the bush veld  every weekend campaigning for the Federation, through the oppressive dry heat of October before the rains came and on through the rainy season, over swollen drifts and muddy roads to bring the Yes vote to victory.

But when these national celebrations were all over, there was still one more to come, in Que Que.  Suffice to say it had taken the biblical seven years of unrelenting persistence, unexpected exposé that rocked the country and innovative thinking to garner support and financing to make the big picture, million pound proposal a reality. The swimming bath symbolized this flowering of Que Que.  It would open in September of 1953.

There are many stories to come about the in’s and out’s of opposition to Que Que’s emergence from a tiny village, an appendage to the mine, into a fully fledged town sporting all the amenities necessary to attract big secondary industries to it to monopolize on the mother lode of iron and limestone deposits at nearby Redcliff. It all had to do with self interest getting in the way of the common good.  The devil is in the details.  I have to keep some surprises for the book…

Suffice to say, perseverance paid off.  In the spring of that year, with Spathodea saplings sporting their orange globes on new Rhodes Highway, the swimming bath opened. Harry had been ousted. Dad was Mayor. It was a hats and long gloves affair for the ladies on the portal of the new facility with an honor guard by the BSAP in their starched uniforms.  There were speeches and bouquets to be presented, tea to be served from the new kiosk under the clear blue sky with Governor Sir John Kennedy and Lady Kennedy presiding.

The BSAP was staffed largely with lads from England, out to do their ‘three in the BSAP’, a soldier as well as a police force, to toughen up before returning ‘home’.  But Africa has its lure.  Not the least of these would be Que Que’s bevy of beautiful girls who would hang out at the swimming bath while the officers, meanwhile, played water polo after hours.  There was plenty of room for dirty play under the crystal clear waters of our white tiled swimming bath.

(For those who are interested here is a bit of historical background)

Southern and Northern Rhodesia were joined in a federation (along with Nyasaland, at the insistence of the British Government).  Amalgamation of the two Rhodesias had been debated for decades.  Originally Rhodes was given a single charter but because of the questionable behavior of the Chartered Company in the early days, the British made Northern Rhodesia a protectorate administered from London.

Historically, Southern Rhodesia had been administered by Rhodes’ chartered British South Africa Company, with input from the unofficials (the farmers, miners, professionals etc. who didn’t work for the company), until 1923, when it became a self governing colony, also after a referendum.  It was never administered directly by Britain.  The difference in the pace of development of self-governing Southern Rhodesia and colonial Northern Rhodesia had been very noticeable. The motto of The Federation was Magni Esse Mereamur (Let us deserve Greatness).