NOTICES AND EVENTS          - 8/6/2010      <--Prev : Next-->


Bulawayo Reunion London May 2010

What happens if you find a great pub in central London, with a location to die for, overlooking the Thames, but before this you send out an email advising people that there's a bit of a 'do' for ex Bulawayans?

The answer is pretty obvious.

The pub fills to overflowing, belching and squeezing North Enders, Malindela-nites, Famonians and even toffs from Kumalo, out of every corner.

Age old rivalries were set aside last weekend, when over two days, more than 350 (and counting) people converged, for the first ever reunion of Bulawayans now living in the UK, at the Blue Anchor pub owned by Louis Amato. The location was perfect - right on the banks of the Thames near the Hammersmith Bridge and at the point where the famous Oxbridge race takes place. Pity about the weather, overcast and dripping, but even that didn't deter the diehards hell bent on meeting up with folks they hadn't seen in 10, 20 and 40 years.

After having advertised the reunion for more than a year, the forethought paid off when first on the Saturday at the pub and then on the Sunday at a London park, ex-Bulawayo families, singles, couples and a dribble of those from Harare met, with some folk even flying in from Oz, America and South Africa specially - I kid you not.

I did not know many of the people who turned up, but that warm and fuzzy feeling of being among like-minded people permeated the three rooms of the pub and spilled out on to the walkway of the Thames once the drizzle died down. There was beer a plenty, vors and curry upstairs, and packets of biltong which rapidly disappeared. Every few minutes, loud hoots and screams of delight would draw my eye to this group or that, as people recognised someone from way-back. Even the great old hunters in the crowd, now driving London cabs, were moved to bear hugs and embraces. I encountered some of the old rivalries, as this Kumalo 'nob reminded me I went to school in North End - Baines - while they were from the right side of the tracks.

The first questions out of everyone's mouths were: 'So where did you go to school?' or 'And which part did you live in?' Nobody worried that they weren't actually friends back then, it was just a matter of 'Hey, I'm from Bulawayo, so are you' and that's all that counted.

Next on the pecking order, came the 'remember when ...' questions. Lots of people came with mementoes - photos of the class of 1960s Northlea, Otis Waygood in full swing, Eskies photos, and Berkley's and Castles were offered around. No Rhodie Whenwes mind you - we were Zimbabweans, bemoaning the downtrodden look of the city and advising a coat of paint. But under it all was an unswerving love of a city no more, where we all grew up, played, and wished our kids (and grandkids) could do the same.

I tried to flog Zim billion dollar notes for charity - raised quite a bit. Then had a quiet chuckle as each person had to reach for their spectacles in order to read the name on the label on the other person's shirt, without being obvious, because we'd recognised a face but couldn't place it. Many of the folk were a generation or so above me - the older brother or sister of so-and-so, which meant that I never hung out with them even then, but it was fun to try to put the face to the name, and then crow - 'No really, you don't look it!' I did feel a whole lot better about myself at the end of the event, cos I definitely had fewer wrinkles than most! And I had hidden the grey hair well. But the other ladies have grown old gracefully. It speaks volumes about our profile photos we put on Facebook. Remind me to change mine!

I've created a group on Facebook called "Bulawayo Reunion May 2010" if anyone wants to try to view the photos. It is an open group, which means there should be no restrictions on access.

The event was such a success that many are now calling for similar reunions to be held in SA, over the ditch in the US and in Australia. But I think my idea is best - how about a reunion in 2012 in Bulawayo! See you there all

Ronit Loewenstern


Lion Attack Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage: The Facts.

To dispel all the rumors and gossip around Bulawayo I have supplied you with the facts about our tragic accident that happened at Chipangali on June 1 2010.
Work begins at 7.45 with all staff reporting for the daily duties, this is a daily practice where all the cages are cleaned, water added to the concrete dishes and finally if need be extra bedding placed in their security Quarters. Over the weekend Bulawayo experienced, terrible and indeed unusual weather. Normally during this time of the year we have what we term Guti (light drizzle). This weekend showed completely the opposite, with a heavy down pour of cold winter rain. This led to a large number of our carnivore cages having wet and soggy grass.

8.00 am
All staff where given their daily chores including the extra work which we decide to do and that was to top up where ever and in other cases remove the old and wet grass from the many cages.
It was at this time that our Carnivore Team proceeded to the enclosure at the back of our deep freeze and cold rooms and began cleaning and removing the old wet grass.
At this point I would like to explain how the system of working with the large carnivores functions. We have security and lock up cages and exercise cages on all our facilities. The system is as follows ,the animal/s are moved to the security cages and locked up, once the team is happy with the securing of the sliding doors and all entrance and exit gates do the staff proceed into the neutral cage. This has been the process and routine for the last 38 years.

8.30 - 9.00
The staff moved Lobi our large black maned lion from one cage to another and proceeded to remove all the old wet grass, once completed they then start using sacks filled with fresh new grass and add this to the clean cage. It is at this point where the whole system is not fail safe ( Human Error ) the team failed to lock and secure the external cage door.

Our staff member then proceeded to the sliding gate and opened the door to move the lion back to the his new clean enclosure.
Unfortunately he ran through and then exited the cage, out to where we had other members of staff assisting to fill sacks with grass.

It is at this point where the lion came into the contact with our staff. Unfortunately, Robyn Lotz, a friend of many years, and great supporter of Chipangali was standing helping to load bags of grass. She was at the back of the cold room area checking on a lion which we worked with over the weekend. An attack ensued, and Robyn being a young lady was no match for a full grown lion. The lion attacked her and pulled her to the ground.
From this point chaos reigned. Over the years we have always had a strict policy of how we would deal with the situation if it ever happened. Our policy always revolved around the protecting of human life and securing of the Orphanage facilities in order to stop the movement of any large carnivores out of the parameter fences.

It is at this point where I became involved, I was sitting in my office attending to new emails and suddenly heard a great deal of shouting and commotion the next thing was I had Nqoble Ncube at my office door telling me to come quickly with a gun as a lion had grabbed Robyn.
I immediately jumped up and ran to the gun safe and grabbed our 30.06 rifle together with an extra box of ammunition and ran to the cold room area. To my horror and dismay I saw Lobi crouched over Robyn, He had her in his mouth and was holding her at the back of her head. My first reaction was to shoot but my sight picture only showed that if I had fired, there was a ninety percent chance of hitting Robyn as well. It was at this point that I changed my initial position to try and get a better view of the lion and this failed. I then ran back to my initial position, at this point the lion decided to get up and move with Robyn still firmly in his mouth. By standing up and moving the lion gave me the opportunity that I needed, his body and chest was separated from the sight picture of Robyn's body. It is the most helpless situation one can be in as you know that time is of the essence, where you have to act quickly and decisively but at the same time you can make the process worse by shooting someone. On having a clear site picture I fired the 3006 and with that shot the lion immediately dropped Robyn and moved position. It is at this point that I fired another shot into the lion to secure the area.

9.20 am
From here we quickly removed Robyn and carried her to the vehicle by our house.
Immediately, we, with the assistance of two members of my senior staff we sped to the Mater Dei ( Hospital in Bulawayo ) casualty unit.
Again this process seemed to take hours in reality the trip from Chipangali to Mater Dei took 4 minutes as I realized yet again time was of the essence. At this time Robyn was partially conscious and kept on telling me that she was battling to breath, I knew this would be a problem as it is the method that lions use to subdue their prey by constricting the airways.
As we entered the robots at the corner of Philips drive Robyn became unconscious and we were literally less than 400 meters from the hospital. We arrived and entered the hospital at the ambulance entrance where we got medical assistance from the casualty unit.
After more than 20 minutes of trying to resuscitate her, Robyn was no longer with us.
This incident is certainly the worst and most unreal experience that one can ever have to go through. It will haunt me and be in my mind for the rest of my life. I would like to pass on our condolences to Robyn's family and can truly say this was a very sad day in the history of Chipangali. The loss of Robyn, as a friend and supporter, will be widely felt and all we can say is that she left behind some lovely art work and wall murals' for the public to see around Chipangali. Rest in Peace Robyn.

An excerpt from Maggie Kriels Morning Mirror sums up the nature and feel for life that Robyn had.
Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and
Destroying , keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest
but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of
one beautiful form into another.
-John Muir, Naturalist and explorer (1838-1914)

Kevin, Nicky and Viv Wilson