Thulani’s Story: THE QUIET ONE LEFT IN THE LOUDEST WAY
Read by: Connie M’Gadzah
Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford
Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford
Thulani Molife. It means ‘the quiet one’. It’s actually a very interesting name. I was named by my aunt in law who was from South Africa. And in Zimbabwe, it’s spelt without the ‘h’. In South Africa they put the ‘h’ in, so whenever I say ‘Thulani’ people, if you’re from Zimbabwe, they think it’s a ‘u’ if you’re in South Africa, they put a ‘h’. Sometimes that’s how you can tell. And when people try and say it phonetically comes out as ‘Thoo-lani’, which is sometimes like, what? But just one of those things.
I think as a child, I was very quiet. I think when I was born, you know, how loads of kids cry and make a lot of noise and stuff like that? I was quiet, really. I grew up in Rhodesia, then, Zimbabwe, in a little place called Makwiro. And there I grew up on really on my grandfather’s farm, grandfather and grandmum’s farm. When I was younger, I lived in Harare, Salisbury then and went to where my mom was working as a nurse because she used to run different district hospitals as they were called. So I’d spend time with her where she was. But my schooling really was at Msengezi School. So that’s why I always say, I grew up more in Makwiro. Because that’s the more memories that stay with me that my strongest memories.
Ah school was lovely. Because most of the family went to the school. And therefore the teachers kinda they knew who you were. They always compared you to your uncles, aunts, cousins who are at the school if the teachers were there. And I remember one of my earliest memories was I think I must have been about three years old, you know, I always used to see my cousins going to school. And I thought, “Wow, where are they going?” And one day, I followed them in and sai, you know “I want to start school” and the teachers had laughed at it and said, “Okay, stay”. So I stayed with them up until lunchtime, and I was so bored, because I thought we were going to be playing. That’s why you know I was a kid. Yeah, but even the teacher said, I was really good. I was putting my hands up I was answering some of the questions, so yeah. If you were late, you obviously got hit. If you got something majorly wrong, you’d get hit. I mean, it was capital punishment, but it wasn’t, you know, just you were hit willy nilly. It was for a particular reason. That’s why you, you were hit and yeah, I remember loads of my friends getting hit. And I think one of the cruellest punishments was that some of the kids would be asked to go choose a tree, choose a branch of the tree to then be hit with. So I think it was part of that whole mental thing. And the clever ones those had been through it used to get a nice thick branch. Because that would mean that when you’re hit, it was only just a one hit the those who weren’t quite up to it or think, well, if he got a nice little strappy branch to be hit with, then that was far easier because it was thinner. But what they forgot is that when they get hit with something that bends, the bend also follows you and hits you twice.
Well my father is late. When I came here, I’ve always had my mum. So it’s always been me and mum, really. So my mum was a nurse. And my father worked on the railways. So he was an engineer on the railways. The fun thing was because he used to work on the railways. So from time to time, I’d got an uncle in Bulawayo. So we used to go on the train and you know, used to get treated very well. And yeah, really, it was just, I suppose one of the jobs of being on the railway is that it was known, so you kind of go…journeys were dead easy organising them, you know.
I think interacting was far easier. Because you’re all in the same place. And because it was on a farm, so it was a school in the middle of a farming area. So you really kind of got to know each other and you’d go to each other’s farms after school, or if there weren’t any farm duties to be done. So yeah, so it was really, it was easy. I mean, the other thing was, if you’re into sports, or hunting or stuff like that, you’d go away on adventures. And also, I mean, also if you’re into sports, you’d have football and you’d have meetups that you would do so an example would be that, the cattle we had to take the cattle for it’s called a dib which is once a month, it was to kill off the ticks and the diseases like that. So you’re gonna see to obviously be very proud of your cattle and you’d have your inner battles, you know, when the bulls would go together, you know, they’d have a fight and you need get that, “Yeah, you know, our bull is the best, or…” so really, it was always in a really, really great growing up because you know, it’s kids who are allowed to be kids now.
So the biggest values that my parents taught me was resilience, and that goes through my grandparents as well. Because when I was younger, I spent more time with him. So it was all about, you know, you just keep going. Everything turns out better. And I think partly, it’s also because of being brought up on a farm, you know, you work from season to season, so your life is, you’re always looking forward to the next season, then whatever’s happened in the season, you kinda know, you don’t carry that forward, you can have a good season, and then next season might be bad. So it’s just really just keep going. And things always turn out.
Growing up on a farm is magical. Because there was myself,my granddad my grandma, who, I was the apple of their eye. I’d got my cousins, and that got other cousins who weren’t too far away from me. So every day was an adventure and my grandparents have been brought up nine kids. I think were more relaxed parenting but very good, relaxed parenting that, you know, they knew all the tricks, you know, that you could pull because they’d been through it nine times. Plus, other things. But it was magical. And even though at the time because we went through a time when we’d got loads of farm workers who were coming across to help with the farm. So you know, we each had got chores. So we made sure that we learned about how the farm worked and all the different jobs in the farm. So you know, for us, it was just fun. I remember when he used to do the cotton. You’d get these huge bales of cotton and a really, really big and this kid as soon as they were filled in, you’d jump in there and could do somersaults and all stuff because it was all the cotton before it’s milled and made into cotton cloth and thread. Yeah, we’d got an orchard, we’d got dogs. We’d got chicken, cattle, goats, sheep. And at one point, horses. So you know, you just imagine that, as well as being on a farm. Big wide, open areas, trees to climb, it was very sheltered, because the fighting was happening elsewhere. Where we were was pretty safe. You know, farm lands, there’s nothing of great militarily value in the farm. Because you know, even if the rebels came to a farm, they weren’t going to work it they’ll just come do what they needed to and move away. So to some extent, it was very, very sheltered. And a lot of stuff that was going on was happening more in the cities or outside our area, so yeah, so it was quite sheltered. And it was a war that was happening there.
There was a time that when I was young, and this was during the war, that I picked up a fork. The one that you dig in the ground. And if I lost control of it, and it came through and it went through my toe, three quarters and went through three quarters of my toes. I just said just a little bit of a toe left. And I remember my mom taking me down to the to the main road. And there was this car that stopped by and it was this white Rhodesian. who was there who said “Come on, I can see what’s happened. Get in the car and I’ll drive you to the nearest hospital.” Now, what I didn’t realise at the time is that if he’d been stopped by both the army or the rebels, that he could have easily lost his life. Because he was then colluding and collaborating with the enemy. But that’s just how you were, you know, you saw somebody need and you went and you know, got there got treated, came back, you know. So really, it was difficult to kind of see what was happening in the cities and towns until I actually got there.
What happened was that because it was during the Civil War, I suppose you can call them rebels or those who are fighting for Zimbabwe. Zanu and Zapu and all the others. The army as well. So the army, because we were on our farm, during a very tight time, so they always thought farmers were wealthy. Because you know, they’d got land and they grew stuff. So they always assumed that, you know, they’ll always money around for stuff like that. But what they forgot, is that in a lot of cases, you know, you invest in what’s growing. So from time to time, they’d the farm, because you know, they needed they were living supposed to have hand to mouth really. And this time, what happened was, they came in, I was there, my grandparents on my mom’s side, and my cousins, so they came in early hours of the morning, knocked on the door, my granddad was used to them knocking on the door and saying, “Give us money, or give us what you have,” sometimes it just take livestock or grain or whatever there was, but this time, all had gone because over time, it just constricts. So they therefore came and sort of said, “Right, get everybody out.” And my granddad said, “Look, I haven’t got any money. As you can see, if you look out, you know, everything that I own is growing, because that’s how I make my money.” And then they just simply turned around and said, right to me and my cousins, “Which one of these would you do without?” In other words, if they weren’t gonna get anything, then to force him to give me whatever I had, they were going to shoot us, you know, shoot one of us. So my granddad only had his medals. So he said, “Right”, went in the house, gave him his medals, his war medals and said, “Right, this is all that I have.” To what the same day, because this was the early hours. My granddad contacted my mom, and sort of explained what happened, they explained that him and my other cousins were gonna go into the Capital, Salisbury, Harare now. And then that, you know, I really needed that he couldn’t stay on the farm, nobody could stay on the farm, it was now unsafe. So I went into town and stayed with family. Whilst this was all being sorted out. And before I knew it, the next thing I was doing about a week later, I was on a plane to England, to stay with my mom.
I was partly peeved off that I was leaving the farm. But also excited to go and see my mom. So it was sort of like kind of living one life going to another and kinda, you know, it was a nice little community that was around me. And suddenly, I was gonna go to somewhere that I really didn’t know, apart from my mum. So there was a little bit of excitement about going to England, not really knowing how long I was going to be in England for. So there was always that well, you know, the back of the head that, sure I’ll be going back soon. So there was a lot of excitement and just thinking, this is another adventure really. I knew a little bit about England, from speaking to my mum from the pictures and from her visit. Also from other family members who had been to England, and mainly from the television. So you know, I think you only ever got to see ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and all, you know, the great period thingys. Never watched Coronation Street or anything like that. So in my mind, England was always the place that you had to aspire to because it was the mother country. So you only were told about the really good things and our history lessons were based on you know, great country houses, kings, queens, dukes, the whole thing. So to some extent, there’s an expectation that well, you know, when it got here, there would be these lovely great big houses. Everybody had their butler or a helper. And yeah, like you know, life was very, very different because you know, you’re taught, which was something that I really learned when I came over here, the Queen’s English. So the Queen’s English is different to the English that you then met here. So, you know, like people dropping their ‘h’s’ and kind of saying words differently to what they were taught and because it was part of the British Empire. So really, a lot of manners were taught, you know, how you’d behave. And my granddad having been in the police force, and also in the army for a short time. And my uncle having been in the Navy, so obviously, it just took discipline as part of what you did and what the expectations of behaviour were. So really, it was, yeah, it was that and, you know, England was always green, on all those historical programmes, and if there was snow or cold, was mentioned, very lightly, and you know, there’ll be a big burning fire. And really, you never really saw the other side of England. So what really knew was TV, newspapers and books, which, you know, just showed how great it was. I remember that, you know, when I left, it was hot. So I was in my shorts and a little safari shirt. So down there, it was hot, you know, got on a plane, the plane was hot. And apart from doing some of the translation. No, it was really just nice. I just remember it being a nice plane and waving the family off at the airport. And yeah, it just like, seemed like I was going on holiday really.
I moved to the UK in November 1978. During one of the worst winters. Yes. I remember seeing my mom. And she’d got this jacket. And I couldn’t work out what is she doing with this jacket? I’ve just left Zimbabwe that’s hot. The plane was hot. And because you’re unaccompanied, you didn’t wait with everybody else, you’re kind of transferred straight. And you know, you went all through the nice warmed areas because that’s where the pilots in the air stewardesses would travel. So everything was warm, you know, cold was like, ‘woo’. And it was only when I saw my mom with the jacket. And thought, “What is she doing? Doesn’t she realise?” We came at night. So it was difficult to kind of get an idea what the day was like. So yes, I remember putting on this jacket and grumbling like all kids do. “Why have I got this jacket on?” Until I got outside and the lovely winter winds went, ‘pow pow pow’. Now I know why I’ve got this jacket. And then I saw snow and thought, wow, I would have never seen snow on TV. And then it was people throwing snowballs, they were sort of like, it must obviously be warm, because you see people throwing it and having a good time in it. Then I went jumped into it thinking “Oh, this is nice.” The cold I faced, it was just like, that was it, it was was zip up and keep warm. I thought the feeling of snow will be like you know when you chop up ice cubes, or ice and put in your drink or just to keep yourself warm or cold. So I thought that’s what it would be I thought it’d be a bit rough. But also kind of soft, but mushy. But when I experienced snow, I thought well actually, this is quite dry. It’s not wet. It’s quite flaky and very soft. And I thought you know, just put your hand in and it would be an instant snowball. But you know, you’ve got to pack it together to make a snowball and all those kinds of things. So yeah, so it was a different feel altogether.
We moved into the flats that moms were staying .Winchester Court flats, and yeah, I mean, or me, it was absolutely fantastic. Because I’d grown up on a farm so space for me is the whole thing. So because it was at Woodthorpe Park, so when I looked out and all I could see was greenery and trees, it was just fantastic. And I was like “Okay, this is quite nice” even though it was covered in white. But there was that feeling of. Yeah, I can was relate to this. And yeah, you know, been used to being in a house so it was just like yeah, okay, this is just another house but with underfloor heating which was quite nice.
The difference between schools in Zimbabwe and schools in England ere that in the schools in Zimbabwe, there was a lot more discipline. There was a lot more learning, I felt like I kind of dumbed it down a bit when I came to England, because education was, so high, that I experienced. And also, I knew a lot more because in Zimbabwe, I taught a lot more about the outside world and what was going on. So I was really in tune with international politics, history who did what, and when, and, you know, a lot of the internal politics of England, and the school was prepared for me. Because one of the things that the Evening Post did, was the Evening Post, did a story about this African boy coming to school. So there’s a Evening Post story of like, how you would expect it to dress, not in school uniform, but formal dress with a jumper. And the whole thing that you know, you’re told to expect that this is how England was, you know, that was what you saw in TV. So rarely, I mean, school transition was really easy, everybody was really curious about me. Well, where did that come from? And there was a really lovely family. The Robinsons, who were absolutely amazing. Because he used to live on Winchester Court. So I used to walk down the hill, and the mom and the family. And I said to my mom, “don’t worry, we’ll take him to school, and we bring him back” there an English family and you know, that kind of helped me. So really transition was dead easy. But one of the things that I always used to get into trouble with was because in Zimbabwe the schools were mixed. So at Haydn Road at the time, girls would play on one side, and boys would play on the other. And I was always in trouble. Because I always think I thought it was bit of nonsense. If I wanted to talk to somebody and I just go across and you know, they would say “Oooh he’s inthe girls section again”, that kind of thing. But yeah, I didn’t mind. And that’s what I was used to. And as well as in Zimbabwe, here, you automatically go up by year. In Zimbabwe, you had to be in the top half, to go up the next level. So I think that’s why probably the teaching was high, and also kind of mixed with some older children as well. So it kinda used to that whole mixture of people. But I remember that at school, the some of the teachers were really surprised that some of the answers I gave, because they couldn’t just work out that how would this African boy know so much? Because our idea of Africa was, I think they thought it was backward and stuff like that. But yeah, and I remember in one of the history, we were doing about Vasco de Gama. And I just said, Yeah, Vasco de Gama. Portuguese, he travelled to this, this, this, this, and this. And this is what he discovered. And I did probably about a whole 10 minute skit about everything I knew. And the teachers just could not believe that i’d know so much about history. Because the thing about Zimbabwe at the time, Rhodesia at the time was as probably been mentioned, that used to sit what’s called the Cambridge Exams. So the Cambridge Exams were set at such a high level that they were not your O Levels, they were the exams that Cambridge and Oxford set for the colonies. So they were meant to keep the population down. To sort of say, well, “Sorry, you failed, you haven’t done your own levels.” But meanwhile, if you went to another country or was marked by a different paper, exam board, you know, you’d fly it, but Oxford was set so high. So if you really got into education, you really kind of absorbed it all. And as a kid, you know, you’re eager to learn, you’re eager to learn about the world. The first primary school I went to in England was Haydn Road Primary School. And it was fantastic learning for me.
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who is my aunt’s brother in law, was prime minister at the time. And I
remember I took a week out of school to go to the Lancaster House talks, which is where they were sorting out how they’re going to divide Zimbabwe then and how it was going to work and the transition from Ian Smith’s white government to the black government and I was just there and I think I’m probably one of the last or few surviving members who were there at the actual talks. Because I remember getting picked up by cars. I said, you know, for me as a kid, this is like an adventure. You know, you get picked up in or you go through there was security and everything else like that all around you because obviously, the talks, some of the talks were in secret. Others were in public. And for some things you had you weren’t supposed to be there. Yeah, so just had a wonderful time seeing how they’re gonna break up the country. And you know, how the different factors were talking about how the country was going to be. Discrimination while I was… No, not really, I think I was just that African kid would been in the newspaper who everybody wanted to find out about. And I think to some extent, that sort of protected me apart from when I sat the exam to go to the High School. Because they were doing, everybody sat the exam, and I passed the exam, much to the surprise of a lot of people. And I remember that my head teacher at the time, said, well, I couldn’t go up to the High School. Yeah, so they said, I couldn’t go to the High School because I had not been in the country long enough. But I think in those days, I mean, at school, racism was probably more upfront than it is now. I think now it’s more subtle. Because you know, you’d got those who were skinheads for an example. You know, you definitely need to keep away from the skinheads. And, and I think school sometimes reflected that, the few kids who, through their parents, I remember, one friend would not allow me, their dad would not allow me to go into the house. But that was just one. But yeah, otherwise, you know, schools, just, you know, you just went to school. I played sports. I lived on Woodthorpe Park. So when my friends came to play football, I was automatically involved because either I had the football or, you know, afterward played, you know, they wanted to have drinks and stuff. So, yeah, I think I’ve never really kind of experienced, it might have been around after school, I wanted either to be a vet, or to be a doctor. And to some extent, and this made my friends laugh to be an executive, because I love the idea of carrying a briefcase and stuff like that. So as a matter of fact, in school, I was at secondary school. I was the only kid, we used to carry a briefcase. And I also wanted to get into filmmaking and theatre and being creative. Because as a kid, we used to have outdoor films, and though you are cold. They were called bioscopes. So as a kid, you need to get a car that be running around with a big horn, shouting out, you know, “There’s a bioscope,” so I mean, coming to the outdoor cinema you’d watch a film and you know, films, you know, then, were very glamorous, because, you know, because of what they were and that was only English films or sometimes SouthAfrican films. So it kind of related what was going on. There weren’t many Zimbabwean films about black people and about how they lived because it was always about either in town or in the country. So yeah, I was interested in filmmaking because it was about the idea of having, putting stuff on screen. Recording, telling stories. I studied film, radio theatre. Yeah, went away, took a play up to the Edinburgh Fringe Award and won the most outstanding play on the Fringe. That was ’92. No, it was part of the place I went to.
I studied at a place called ARTTS, which was the Advanced Residential Theatre and Television School in a town called Bubwith, which is near York. It was split into four 10 week terms with two weeks in between so you’d start on a Monday at nine o’clock, so you’d have your lesson. So you were told, taught everything how to… I went on the director’s course. So you were taught, acting, directing, writing, producing all of the jobs that you will do, camera, so that when it came out of it, you were really ready for the industry. But at the same same time I was also running a theatre group, chairing a theatre group, still involved in productions and then eventually got on to adult’s… was called Next Stage, and got to direct loads of plays with Next Stage. It was an adults theatre project that they had funded by the County Council. And when the county councillor who had champion it, moved on. Can’t remember if they passed away or didn’t get reelected, obviously, as they cut, but been involved in sorts of things. Theatre groups, I sit on how many? Three boards of theatre groups. Havin been brought up on the farm. It probably would see the odd production of a touring group that would come, or when I when I went to Harare, Salisbury, that’s when you know, you’d be taken out to the theatre and you’d see different places. But as a kid, I used to follow mums. Because used to go and watch loads of concerts. So to be like, a lot of people playing and a lot of productions out would be, whatever was happening. So yeah, so for me, it was just like, you just grew up with it. And as she was running at a district hospital, obviously she got invited to all these things. And yeah, things that other people woulnd’t to get into, I suppose.
Apart from getting elected as a councillor, one of the three counsellors for Mapperley Ward, it was, I remember going to the Council House and getting a volunteers award. And there was an hour so got it, there’s a picture of the Queen that hangs up. And there was me receiving this award and I thought my granddad will be so proud because I know England’s a place that you were told is the aspirational place to be. And to do well and be recognised for doing well here was sort of like, it was fantastic. I mean, I’ve been school governor, I won an award for my governorship. I was what they call a taskforce governor. So when schools were in trouble, you know, that sent us to, sometimes a couple of us and sometimes just me, to get it from special measures to good or beyond. So I got a few of those terms of additional stuff. I kinda do stuff and think that’s done and move on to the next so a belonged to the Co-op party as well, which is sister party to the Labour Party, and I’ve always been the campaigner anyway. So oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that when I was a member of, because I set up the Nottingham Credit Union. There was the Bulwell Credit Union that I sat on as well. We won the Queen’s Export Award. For industry as I say, I got these things you do them. You forget you move on to the next and personally, oh that’s probably hard because I would have been a governer at the New College Nottingham for many moons. Yeah, I was on the High School board. It’s probably more my board memberships that are probably would I mean currently, I sit well, I chair the Pension Board, which looks after just got another side facility to look on the pension. And that’s 6 billion quids worth of assets that you look after. So to some extent, you know loads of different things and involved in trade unions. I’m a treasurer of Unite Community. Secretary of Stand Up To Racism Nottingham, chair Playgroup in Sherwood, chair community building in Sherwood, community transport, Nottinghamshire Community Transport, I’m on the liaison between the police. Yeah, loads of stuff that if I started rolling off, I’d bore you to tears.
My wife is not Zimbabwean, she’s Ugandan. And what happened was my brother in law was working in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. And there my wife’s sister was worked there. We were working together my wife had got a choice because she had done her university there. So she could either have gone because in Ivory Coast, they speak French. She could have either gone to Paris or could have come to England to continue her studies. So my brother in law said, “Well, look, I’ve got a house in Nottingham. So you know, rather than going to Paris where you’d have to find out all sorts of stuff.” And obviously my mom was here, and that got cousins. Yeah. So I said, “Well, you know, to be an easier transition for her.” So, in short, she moved across the road. From well, we’re now moved into Sherwood fully. And I remember my mom saying, “Oh, there’s a girl.” And I said, “I’m not interested in, in seeing.” And she was like “Ah to go meet her.”, and at the time, I’d come out of another relationship. So I was like, “No, I’m not going to have my fun, I’m going to enjoy myself.” And then met her and that was it really. So. And the funny thing is that we met in the house that we now own. Because as a kid, when I was crossing the road from there, always loved this house. And I said, I made a promise to myself that one day, I would buy this house. So that’s how it happened.
Between Uganda and Zimbabwe? I think the biggest cultural difference is in how I suppose how mother in laws are treated. Because in Uganda, the daughter in law doesn’t really have a lot to do with the mother in law. So to some extent, that’s probably about the biggest cultural difference. But also, you know, you kind of get that, I suppose, with pretty much the same that you know, you’ve got your reverence for your older generation. Yeah, not really, apart for obviously food and stuff like that, but not really because Uganda was part of the British Empire. So to some extent, there is still a little bit of, of, you know, that carryover, and a lot of commonality. Yeah, and a lot of things.
I have two children. Christopher, or CJ, and is really interesting name why he’s called CJ. Originally, my mom wanted to call me, CJ. So, when CJ came along, because it was my dad’s name was Christopher. And the J comes from James I’ve got loads of suppose idols whose first name starts with J. So and my granddad had sort of said, “Oh,” because they loved St. Paul’s. They said, “Ah, so he asked, So who designs this?” Christopher Wren so you think you always liked the name Christopher. So it’s Christopher James. And then it’s got some Zimbabwean names Sibonile, which is from his grandma, and then Tawana, Moses, and then I’ve got Emmanuel, MJ. And that’s Emmanuel, John. And it’s Emmanuel, John Magwale. Yeah, there is. Yeah. But then I like it’s got various names that kind of just call him MJ. And it’s got to be MJ because his first name is Emmanuel. And Emmanuel can be either be spelt with an ‘I’, or with an ‘E’. So to make the difference, so it’s E M, and then it just just put the J because we’ve got CJ.
The’ve got a lot more opportunities. Because even in the 80s, there were certain industries that you couldn’t go into because you were black, and you couldn’t progress. Or you weren;t expected to progress. I think that’s probably it just simply because of your skin colour. So really, I think now, you know, the world is your oyster, you know, you can do anything, be anything and you’re encouraged to follow your, whatever you want to do, and kinda know that you progress, because a lot of the barriers that were there have now kind of gone away. I think it’s because there’s a lot more people in those roles and a lot more visible, and there’s less feeling that you won’t be able to get there. So if you decide this is what I want to do, you know, you work hard, and obviously you know that you expect that there’ll be some racism and some people not expect other black person to be there or whatever. And you do kind of face that. But one of the things that I’ve discovered in life is that the higher you go, the more people are accepting. Because I always compare it to when I was a governor at a High School, that when I was a governor, within the city, that there was a lot more racism. In terms of that, you know, don’t see you differently. You know, the other governors and fellow governors, I mean, you know, I became chair of Governor, two schools and stuff like that. But yeah, you could feel it when you went away. Whereas, when I went away with a high school and met other governors from private schools, you know, colour was not even an issue. We were just like, your governor and the governor, and you just talk about school whereas, sometimes I think you’d got, people weren’t quite expecting to see a black person, a black person in that, and sometimes would know how to react or deal with a black person. Yeah. And I think that’s, sometimes that’s the problem, that there’s a generation who grew up with a certain idea and mentality wheareas today, you know, you can mix things like, “Okay, yeah, you like football, I like football, let’s go together.” I remember, I used to follow, I always used to like to go away to football matches with my friends. And there were certain games that you wouldn’t go to like, you wouldn’t go to Millwall, for example. And even if you went away to watch Tottenham, and stuff like that, there were certain routes you could take that was safe and other routes that weren’t safe. But that was hooliganism and again, that was a lot of racism. You know, skinheads who just knew to keep away from skinheads, you know, they were just, yeah.
My children have not been to Zimbabwe. Because the, because when they were younger, the country was not in a good place. And you always worry, I was always more worried if they got ill. What had happened there more than them going. But it was just the fact that, you know, you’d feel guilty knowing that the systems weren’t in place to deal with them. I mean, I, as a child, I used to go to Zimbabwe a lot. Every roughly every two years up until 19… So, yeah, so I was used to going down, but that was because I was going to see family and friends. And there was always that I was at an age where if I got ill, I could say what it was and there was always the support available. But when you’ve got your youngsters you always worry more about them. But now that they’re older plus also is the cost of going down there as well. So yeah, so that was different. And I remember the first time I went to Zimbabwe right after after I got the independence was I came as a child and I’ve got my British passport, came through customs and presented it and the guy took out a great big scissors, cut my British passport and said, We don’t accept British passports anymore. You’ve got to go and get a Zimbabwean one. So I was not prepared for this at all. But my uncle Pee Pee and my mom and the rest of the family rallied round and I was able to get my Zimbabwean passport done very quickly. And as soon as I got back to England, they said well what are you doing with a Zimbabwean passport because that got there was no proof of me having gone to Zimbabwe because obviously they cut my is my passport. So it looked like when I was coming back. I was coming back on the Zimbabwean passport and it was very new. So when I got back at customs, I said right I told them the whole story, this idea. And then because it’s as with the kids, and with me wanting to travel, I then straightaway applied for a British passport. So I’ve got a British passport back because it’s easier. I’ve got British Yeah, it was British and European. But yeah,
The advice I’d give to myself, as an eight year old is enjoy it. Because when I came was an adventure. I didn’t know when I was going to go back, but I knew I’d go back eventually. So really, just keep on doing what you’re doing and keep on. You know, there’s loads of good people out there and count more on the good things, and focus less on the bad things that happen to you. Because as I say, for a lot of the stuff that I’ve been able to do, it’s always been with the help of other people. So you can’t say well, it was me we did this all along. It’s just the fact that I’ve been lucky in finding people sort of say, Yeah, we believe in the idea we believe in you and will support your take you or give you these opportunities, open these doors for you, for you to get to where you want to. So the world is your oyster. Just don’t limit yourself.
I describe my nationality more as British because that’s what I’ve really kind of grown up into adulthood and that’s what I’ve been used to. But I still say I’m Zimbabwean and I was born in Zimbabwe. I still speak Shona have still got family and friends there. And you know what you grow up with? You can never take away. But if I go to Zimbabwe, they see me as English. Yeah. So And I remember one time going. And I was, again at customs, and I was speaking Shona. And this guy looked at me and he said, “Sir, you are destroying our beautiful language. “And I thought, I do I sound that English. So as I sort of say, when I go to them, and asked my show knows it still there, but it’s old Shona. You know, it’s if you speak to the youngsters, you know, you don’t realise that language changes over time, but you know, sayings, nicknames The thing is change, you know, once upon a time, bad meant bad, you know, but bad men good. And, you know, all these kinds of things that language transforms itself into.