Tuesday, August 21, 2007

‘Be Prepared’ to do a runner.

With all this Boy Scout story writing, it is a bit of coincidence that this year the 21st World Scout Jamboree celebrated 100 years of the global Scouting movement, which began when Robert Baden-Powell took 20 boys on a camping trip on Brownsea Island in Dorset in 1907.

As it was reported in the Evening Standard 21st of August,

As thousands from 162 nations enjoyed the activities at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, 13 of their brethren disappeared.

Nine Scouts from Bangladesh and Uganda never arrived at the campsite, while four from Sri Lanka and Nigeria vanished during the 12-day event.

Now, I wonder what happened to them?

Simon Carter, a spokesman for the Scouting Association, said four slipped away during the jamboree, but the other nine did not arrive at the park. He added: "Somewhere between the airport and the campsite, they went missing - at which point we have no control over them.

Well, I have it from a very good source that all these figures are not correct. Out of 30 Scouts who went from Zimbabwe, 3 also disappeared. This was not reported in the local press.

The best vanishing act done recently though was in Germany, when the entire Sri Lankan handball team mysteriously disappeared once they had arrived. They had been issued visas from the embassy in Sri Lanka for the proposed tour. It turned out that there was no official Sri Lankan handball team!

I wonder how many athletes will compete in the illegal immigrant dash during London’s Olympic games? Might be worth putting a few pennies down at the bookies. They are offering 3-1 odds on between 5 and 10 thousand ‘runners’.



Referee Rob Styles was forced into a humiliating public climbdown yesterday as he apologised to Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for wrongly awarding Chelsea a penalty at Anfield on Sunday.

As usual there is uproar and plenty of suggestions how to stop future incidents.
I thought about this for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that if the players all played by the rules, why do you need a referee! These players receive wages in the region of £50k a week, presumably because they are top professionals and are expected to know the rules. So I say, let them play their matches with out a referee.

Now that would be a great spectacle to watch!



I got a bit of a shock listening to this for the first time in twenty odd years. I never realised how much of it is in Chilapalapa! I really struggled to recall what little I had ever learnt. Hopefully there will be more of the late Wrex Tarr’s masterpieces to hear for free soon. This one is about the Exodus.


For those vaguely interested in my Open University comment to the story of Sixpence and the Great White Bwana, here it is. There will be no more extracts from the book posted here. Don’t worry, it is barely 10%. So, now I have to get back to finish writing it.

Although this story is part of my memoirs, it has been completely re-written and severely edited to attain the allowed word count. Originally it was done in the first-person. The memoirs covering my school years in Rhodesia are made of several separate stories, all done in various styles. For this story, I used a third-person limited narration approach, because I believed it was the most appropriate.

This kind of narrative, a fusion of first and third perspectives, is based on the way White Rhodesians told anecdotes using the name Sixpence as the typical stereotype for a Black person. It would be told in an exaggerated English accent spoken by the Black populace. I personally believe that it was the White Rhodesians who inadvertently mimicked the natives’ natural style of story telling. Often the narrative would be interspersed with a pidgin language called Chilapalapa, which blends elements of the Ndebele, Shona and English languages. I decided against using Chilapalapa, as I thought it would be a distraction. The absolute expert in this style of story telling during the ‘70s in Rhodesia was the late Wrex Tarr. His L.P recording Yeno Lo Chilapalapa , is still hugely popular amongst the Ex-pats of Southern Africa. It was never considered racial. Tarrs’ anecdotes had diverse themes ranging from James Bond to the Exodus with Moses.

To create the ‘voice’ I had to constantly speak out loud the lines in this theatrical style of the English language. Listening to Wrex Tarr, for the first time in over 20 years, after I have written my story, I was pleased to see that I had followed the style of the ‘voice’ quite well. It is normally spoken with exaggerated tones and constant use of body language. Grammar and vocabulary is kept deliberately simple. Swear words are kept to the minimum and never vulgar.

The reader is given no description of the main characters. It is only important to know that one is a wily buffoon servant, the other a condescending master. My story is obviously satirical. Sixpence is me, and I am White, but I am nowhere as well educated as the Bwana and I could never have matched his culinary skills. The cultural differences in the dialogue are designed to emphasise this. However, the hero of the story has to be the underdog, ‘poor’ Sixpence, who at the end triumphs over the clever ‘Great White Bwana’.

Modern Black Zimbabwean writers have honed this satirical approach to their story telling to perfection. Sixpence, the Colonial stereotype, has been replaced by more up to date characters; in Lenox Mhlanga’s column Breaking the wind (2007), in the New Zimbabwe newspaper, tells of Black University graduates in London looking for work. Unable to use their qualifications, they learn to lie at the job agencies and list experiences from fork-lift operator to care worker with obvious hilarious results. Again ‘poor’ Sixpence has to do battle with ‘Bwana’, now represented by the British establishment, and get out of the situation as best as possible. They do that, of course, with great success.

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