Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zimbabwe Prepares for Agriculture Show

The Harare Show, to be opened by Equatorial Guinea's dictator Teodoro Obiang Ngeuma, will feature exhibitions including more than 100 cattle, goats,
pigs, guinea fowl, rabbits and chickens, the state Sunday Mail reported,
citing organizers.

One planned highlight is a livestock auction on Thursday, and as Zimbabwe
once southern Africa's main agricultural exporter faces acute shortages of
meat and staple foods, many of the animals were expected to quickly
disappear into the cooking pot.

Organizers said the show's theme this year was

"Our Task to Feed the Nation, Time for Innovation."

One highlight of the show is a plastic milk bottle containing almost a litre of petroleum. It will be encased behind bullet proof glass and guarded by a legion of war veterans to control the huge masses of visitors paying Z$300,000 for a glimpse of this incredibly rare commodity.

Eagerly anticipated will be the Rhodesia stand, organised by a few middle aged men living in cyber space. On display will be a full range of Rhodesian currency, including the extremely rare R$10 note that was the highest denomination ever printed.

Visitors to the stand will be greeted by a full scale statue of the late Wrex Tarr, dressed in a light blue Rhodesian made Safari Suit with matching long blue socks and a black comb just peeping out.
For a small fee, people will be able to purchase a Nanny Nostalgic Pack, made up of a standard monthly ration that was given to female domestic workers in the cities and towns on top of their wages. It consists of 20kg of Mielie meal, 12 candles, 2 boxes of lion matches, 1 bar of Sunlight soap, 5 kg of ‘ration meat’ and 10 Kingsgate cigarettes.

The Rhodies are expecting to shift 7 million of the packs!

I have always had a soft spot for this show. Back in the ‘good old days’ it was called the Salisbury Agriculture Show.

It wasn’t just for agriculture. As a kid in the early ‘70s, I went often. Most of us were not interested at looking at the animals, although there were plenty of them being presented. It was the other part that was the best fun. Most of Rhodesia’s industries were there, displaying their goods in the hundreds of stands spread out over the show grounds. Some of the larger firms had rather fancy buildings, whilst the small entrepreneur would have to make do with a three sided, asbestos roofed allotment.

I seem to recall that the show was of a week’s duration and seemed to fall during school holidays. A few of my class mates would arrange to get jobs. One of them was the gorgeous Cindy Tait. She would lie her bikini clad perfect body on a ‘couch’ perched over a swimming pool, and for a fee, people could throw a ball at a target and try to disengage a locking mechanism that would plunge her into the rather cool water. I could never afford to try. I once had a job there. Dressed as a St Johns First Aider, I went around dispensing headache pills. I received no pay but I gained free entry and as many hamburgers to shove down my throat as possible.

In the very early ‘70s, there might have been a few foreign displays but I only ever recall the large South African one. The most popular of all for the adults was the one from the National Breweries. For some strange reason the people went in with eager brisk steps, stayed for hours and always staggered out!

The in-thing for us kids, was to wander around getting as many free samples of anything, (which invariably just got chucked away), and then it was down to the Lunar Park fun fair to spend your pocket money on the ‘Danglers’ (15 cents a go) and the ‘Octopus’ (25 cents a go). The Octopus was the scariest fun ride of them all. Once, in the ‘70s, one of the cabs with two kids inside took off, flew over the security fence and landed on a pile of gawkers peering through the fence, killing three of them. Was that kill-joy or what!

Health and safety regulations didn’t exist, so going on the Danglers was tantamount to suicide. As soon as the thing moved off, several things could happen. The person behind would give you a savage kick in the arse, sending your long chain suspended chair crashing into the person in front, normally leaving your exposed shins bleeding from the impact.

In a state of shock you would latch on too the chains of the poor sap you have just crashed into. As the centrifugal force really took hold, the entire contraption of screaming, fear induced, vomiting kids, were spun around like ants on a gyroscope. You then gave the chair’s occupant a double kick boost. This sent the eye bulging, shit filled pants kid into an orbit that incredibly was almost parallel to the madly spinning ground, before they were brought to a bone crushing halt in a pile of jingling chains as they crashed dived into the next person in line. This bit of fun would be repeated along the whole circumference, leaving the happy joy riders visibly scarred mentally and physically for life.

This was also the place for the vain attempt at chatting girls up. I remember bumping into a school friend of mine, Clare Finlason, just as she and another girl had been approached by two 17 year old hopefuls, who having managed to get a hold of a beer or two and whose line of chat was as stimulating as a gas filled corpse. Clare ascertained very quickly that they were from Prince Edward School and asked what they thought of their headmaster and was it true that he caned boys really hard? The grinning apes then went on to describe their headmaster in terms modern day Zimbabweans refer to Robert Mugabe. Clare waited till they were finished and sweetly said

‘How nice, I’m his daughter. What did you say your names were again?’


If anyone out there has any little interesting stories from the show, please Email me and I will add them here. AND pictures please!


Kathy said...

Wow - not thought of the danglers for years - LOVED them , but you're right - risked life and limb on them...

Bokonon said...

Ah the danglers, in the 70's, men walked on the Moon and we had the danglers. Stephen King could have written a 900 page novel on the danglers.

"The 70's were more than a flock of seagulls and petrol shortage, Austin."

Thats my story and I am sticking to it.