Life in Rhodesia: part three 5



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This is part three of Linda’s life in Rhodesia. To read her previous instalments, click here.

There are eight species of Baobab – the African variety, six in Madagascar and one in Australia. The African variety is the largest and is found in 20 sub-Saharan countries – it thrives in dry climes which have low to moderate seasonal rainfall. Baobabs do not like to be very wet at all. These trees get handsome at about 800 years old.


The Bushmen believed that the Baobab had offended God and, in revenge, God planted the tree upside down. Certainly, when winter comes, the Baobab resembles a mass of roots pointing towards the sky instead of being underground. The Baobab has been associated with many myths, mysteries and folklore. Even the flowers bloom at night. Bushmen believed that any person who plucks the flowers will be torn apart by lions, because there are spirits in the flowers. When water is drunk, in which the Baobab’s pips have been soaked, this serves as protection from crocodiles and the drinker will be mighty.

The Baobab has a special role in Africa. Elephants, monkeys and baboons depend on its fruit (the vitamin C content of one fruit is the equivalent of 4 oranges); bats pollinate them by crashing into the flowers while chasing insects; bush babies also spread the pollen; the pollen can be used as glue; the seeds are rich in protein, calcium, oil and phosphates – they can also be roasted and ground like coffee beans; young leaves have a high calcium content and can be used as spinach; the trunk is fibrous and can be woven into rope mats and paper; beer and tea can be made from the bark, but you need a strong constitution to drink either.

Matopos Hills Bulawayo


These hills cover an area of about 3,100 square km, with 424 square km is National Park.


While in Bulawayo on holiday we made time to go to the Matopos and visit Cecil John Rhodes grave. It is quite a walk but well worth the beautiful views.


Beautiful balancing rocks at the Matopos. I always found them fascinating.


A common flat lizard found all over the Matopos.

Just before we left Rhodesia to come to Australia we went and visited the Zimbabwe ruins. It is an absolutely fascinating place. The ruins of Great Zimbabwe – the capital of the Queen of Sheba, according to an age-old legend – are a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the shona between the 11th and 15th centuries. Walking through these ruins is just amazing that something so old is still standing.


Zimbabwe Bird

The Zimbabwe Bird is the national emblem of Zimbabwe, appearing on the national flags and coats of arms of both Zimbabwe and Rhodesia

The original carved birds are from the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe, which was built by ancestors of the Shona, starting in the 11th century and continuing for over 300 years. The ruins, after which modern Zimbabwe was named, cover some 1,800 acres (7.3 km²) and are the largest ancient stone construction in Zimbabwe. Among its notable elements are the soapstone bird sculptures, about 16 inches tall and standing on columns more than a yard tall, were installed on walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. They are believed to have been a sign of the royal presence.


Have you seen fascinating flora and fauna on your travels like Lynda? What wildlife and nature did you see? Tell us below!

Linda Van Der Merwe

I was born in Rhodesia and emigrated to Australia in 1983 with my husband and two children. I worked at the Department of Justice and Attorney General for 16 years and then moved over to Queensland health for 3 years. In 2011 I was made redundant. I am not working and spend my days making cards, joining clubs and having fun with my friends. I have three beautiful grandsons and spend a lot of time with them. My one regret is that my beloved husband did not live long enough to meet his grandchildren.

  1. Linda – my grandmother lived in Marandellas and my husband, four children and I towed a caravan round Rhodesia in the early 1960’s and had amazing adventures. We built a boat and sailed over to to Oz in the 1970s from S.Africa and I also worked for the Att.General and am now retired. Parallel stories and shared memories. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Linda, this is a part of the world so many of us have never seen, I’m both learning from and enjoying your story.

  3. Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my story. I am so excited that it has brought so much interest from everyone. Thank you.

  4. We went over there in 1990 when it was Zimbabwe. It was lovely even then one of our best holidays. Shame what has happened. Merry Christmas everyone!

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