At long last I discovered what had been missing in my life and there it was.... as large as life - as gloriously discordant as ever - the Zimbabwe National Army Band.
Ever since I was a child that band has featured in my life. At all high day and holidays, at the Queens Birthday parade when we were flagrantly colonial,(TSK TSK ) at the opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, during those halcyon but long gone holidays that now have to be mentioned in hushed whispers - Rhodes and Founders...sshh..sotto voce remember.... and at the grand livestock parade of the Bulawayo Agricultural Show where the thousand Guinea Trophy was presented to the best bull on show.
Do you remember how the cattle used to be paraded proudly through the main arena, layer after layer of magnificent Brahmans, Afrikaners, Tulis, Nkonis, Aberdeen Angus, mountains of magnificent flesh, the pride of the farming stock, all glossy and groomed and an proudly led by beaming handlers in spotless white dust coats.
And then, striding out behind, the band of IRR Zimbabwe National Army Band. Rows of gleaming tubas, screeds of golden trumpets, multitudinous trombones, clarinets, piccolos and flutes. and followed by the drummers, resplendent in their navy blue and gold starched to perfection, tassels and braid looping proudly in the summer sunlight, shoes and hats proudly polished and spick and span.
The kettle drums, the glorious timpani section and of course the big bad base drum, thumping away in baritonal splendour. Right in the front of course was the gracious billy goat, mascot for a hundred years of splendid parades (probably not the same goat, I am sure but always a dignified white billy goat with a terrific goatee and his magnificent jacket bearing the coat of arms of the corps of the ZNA. )
The ZRP also have a band, and I loved that band just as dearly, many a happy Sunday afternoon would be spent back in the days of yore listening to the police band play on the once lush green lawns of the Hillside Dams !! Or even further back in that delightful circular pavilion adjacent to the fountain in the Centenary Park!!
Anyhow, I realised what I had been missing all these years just a week ago, when on a dilatory jaunt to forage for foodstuffs in town, I happened by chance to get entwined in a parade !!
Yes, we all love a thumping good old parade, and this particular one was a glorious event. I could not quite catch the gist of the banners but it seemed to be World Education Day possibly
There they were, drum majorettes aplenty, twirling and whirling away, beautifully turned out in their minuscular marching outfits, perky little hats, beautifully groomed and without fault in precision and timing, there were several sets of these majorettes and then there was a whole cavalcade of men and women in academic caps and gowns, all clutching tombs no doubt by Plato and Aristotle, which looked well used and most learned !!
Followed in hot pursuit by the wonderfully talented Zimbabwe National Army Band. Oh yes, it struck a chord in my throat (no pun intended of course) and my childhood memories came coursing back as I was forced by circumstance and pomp, to sit through several sets of robots waiting for this polished parade to pass.
It brought not only a tear to my eye but a flicker of hope to my heart that our country would one day become as happy and as peaceful and as prosperous as it once was.
There was a small hiatus in the procession however as one academic rather more caught up in the solemnity of the occasion, caught sight of a newspaper billboard which read "school fees up by a hundred percent " I wonder what the Billy Goat thought about it all