Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice: Part Seven

Greetings and good bowel movements to you all. I suppose it makes a change from the standard Vulcan ‘Live long and prosper’ that only seems to work if your name is Mugabe, turning 86, and in charge of putting an entire country down the toilet.

Now, I have some exciting news. Due to the last chapter, I was contacted by another Gokwe police officer, Senior Patrol Officer Nigel Triggs, who was with me at the time. Just as me, he was hacked off that he never took many pictures at the time. I suppose we never ‘clicked’ how historically and personally interesting they would be so many decades later.

But, sensationally, he had a few pictures of the Charama base camp. These would have been taken just prior to Gokwe Town being attacked -

On May 14 this year [1977] the terror war came to the heart of Gokwe village but only for half an hour.

‘A  large group of terrorists had a planned three-pronged attack on the Police
camp’, said Chief Inspector Harvey. ‘As one group of Terrs came in, one of our sergeants disturbed their plans.’

The Sergeant - now recovered - was shot three times before the Terrs fired
several mortars at the camp and then fled.
In the follow-up operation one terrorist was killed.

Two Water Development employees who had been camping in a tent near the main
camp when the attack on Gokwe was launched, were also shot, but not killed.

This rather bland description is from a Rhodesia Herald, Sunday edition, double page full spread, about Gokwe. The said Chief Inspector has perhaps the only copy still around and copied the entire article for me.

Former Chief Inspector Harvey with his wife, Heather, and me, North Wales, 2006

After the attack, bases that had just been sporadically used during routine police patrols, now became semi-military camps. But here are pictures from the time before the shit hit the fan…and guess what? There is one of the Long-drop. Amazingly, I managed to describe its position in the small camp at the time, almost perfectly. The tin hut you see was used to sleep in. When it rained, it rained, and you couldn’t hear yourself think. For most of my co-police officers on patrol with me, this was a god send as it meant even I had to give up chattering my inane gibberish.

I have also added a couple of views and a very interesting picture from the bottom of the escarpment where we filled huge water bowser trailers up. The camp had no running water. For the life of me, I have no idea how the water ‘arrived’ in that tank. It was all for free, not just for ‘us’, it was a major source for the local surrounding populace. (Shame the Water Development lads were also shot at!)

So before the camp became populated (even Nigel has no idea which government department actually ‘owned’ the place), the ‘whites only’ shower at the camp didn’t work, as there was no water in its tank. Hence we showered as in the picture. 

Those ancient four cylinder Landrovers took some stick, I tell you.
I was just thinking, whilst writing this…how did the water get from the bowser into ‘our’ shower tank at camp. They looked a bit like this. (This one is 250 gallons.)

Well, erm… we simply told our Black police staff to delegate who would sit at the hand pump. They in turn abused the lower ranks of African Police Reservists, whom, if they were lucky and we had arrested some naughty people (guilty or innocent), they would work for their free accommodation and food.

So, to wrap up this chapter, I would like to draw your attention to another of Robert Mugabe’s ‘evil, White racist Colonial not real Zimbabweans’ resident by the name of Peter Morgan. This amazing individual has, along with assistance from  EcoSanRes Programme - Stockholm Environment Institute, done incredible work with Long-drops.

In a book, available for free on line, he gives extraordinary details how to make compost from Long-drops. This isn’t bull-shit but basic rocket science. What goes in comes out to make what goes in. Here are just a few of the pics.

It is well worth a look at this –

Toilets That Make Compost. Low-cost, sanitary toilets that
produce valuable compost for crops in an African context.

There are building details, photos of every stage, and the end result of food growing over the ‘full’ pits.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice: Part Six


Sorry for the delay, but I had to wrap an exam. What do you think of this submitted paragraph –
Incredible irony, that panicking creationists, debunking Darwinism - ‘[E]volution means we’re related to … them! And you know who they are.’ (Creationism and Racism (2009) [online]) - Taylor’s Black family are direct descendents from primitive eugenic experimentation - ‘from breeded stock’ (Taylor p. 149) - by the ‘Christian’ White slave owners. Turning the whole theme inside out, Pullman’s anti-organised religion stand has made him to be accused of ‘colonial-racism’ in his books! But, hey! - is this not the secret of a successful/failing democracy?
I am well impressed…lol. On with the show…

My first experience with Long-drops was in the Boy Scouts when we went camping. They also taught me how to boil water in a paper bag, which hasn’t really come of much use, for the simple reason shopping carrier bags tend to be plastic these days.  Zimbabwean CIO agents like to set them on fire and drip the flaming globs onto the exposed skins of opposition supporters.

Anyway – during the Bush War I spent a lot of my time at a base camp called Chirama. I dug up this chapter about Long-drops from a huge piece I wrote, quite some time ago, about my time as a policeman in Gokwe, so I have dusted it down -

But before I start, I Googled their Images for Chirama  + Gokwe, and the only picture that popped up was of …ME! Now I know that pics have been lifted from my Blog and are all over the place. I like that, but I was surprised to find this particular picture, on a strange site called ‘’, which doesn’t really exist! Very strange, but I found another link, along with at least another two pictures of me, was on this website’s sub-galleries GRU 13 SPETSNAZ which is about a Russian Special Purpose Regiments and they have a huge picture collection of Rhodesian forces. Fascinating.

I am well flattered. So after all that, here is the little anecdote. It is 1977 and I am 19 years old.

 Chirama had been a base camp for years. It was used by Internal Affairs, Tsetse Control and the British South Africa Police. It had one of best views in the world. Although about two hours drive from Gokwe village, it was still on the extreme north-west end of the Mafungabusi Plateau (dirt track road, direction towards Bumi Hills, Kariba) with an altitude of around 3800 feet. To accommodate the called-up large influx of Whites, the recreational area needed to be extended. The octagonal tin walled, roofed and glass windowed radio shack, had a massive green canvas tarpaulin attached to it, and this was stretched between several trees. The result was a large shady area for the grub and games table, plus shelter from the blazing summer sun on the paraffin powered fridge and deep freeze.

By late 1977, the place was packed with all sorts of Police Reservists, called up to help fight the war. Most were old enough to be my Father, but with their vast years of experience they rapidly became well organised. They created a really smart camp, with tents installed over three foot deep pits, dug out against possible mortar attacks. A ramshackle lot, these Reservists were a picture of all walks of White Rhodesian life. Bankers, shop owners, pen pushers, farmers, you name any White ‘supremacy’ job, they came from all over the Midlands, sent to prop up the overloaded security forces. They came and went on various lengths weekly periods. 

Of course, we had a large contingent of Black forces. All regulars and volunteers - the government didn’t conscript the Black population. Some were Police, some Internal Affairs, some just labourers working on the new base that was being built a mile deeper into the bush. They were allocated an area of the camp and did their own thing. I do not remember if they had hot showers like us Whites.
I went often over to their ‘side’ and they taught me the game ‘Tsoro’, but I was always soundly defeated, much to the delight of the onlookers.
I remember once tuning my radio into the enemy’s signal being beamed from Maputo, Mozambique, where Robert Mugabe was retroacting the future, live on air. I would demand translations from the small Black crowd, whom had gathered around, as they listened with growing amusement.
It appeared that he was promising free farms and Mercedes cars to those that help free Zimbabwe etc etc. Our lot weren’t having any of it. I liked them all immensely and always queried if they were Okay, enough supplies etc.
           This last jutting spit of flattened earth, before you plunged to the huge expanse of flat lands hundreds of feet below, also had a brick and mortar kitchen with a huge black cast iron wood stove. Nearby, built from the same materials, was a Rhodesian 44 gallon drum boiler, supplying skin removing scalding water for the shower. Scattered around on the dry sandy soil, in an ever increasing amount, were the green tents for the various man power. Bang in the middle was a tiny hut, not much bigger than its own front door.

This - was the ‘Long-drop’.

The Long-drop had a proper toilet seat, but that is where the similarity to a ‘Crapper’ ended. Once you opened the door, the stench really hit you, along with the swarm of very fat flies. This place was to be avoided like the plague, and if you had to drop a long one, then try and save it till late at night, when the heat had dissipated and the flies were in their beds. Sometimes, you got to go, when you have to, there was always a fear that a fly would zip up the rear passage faster than you could close it. There was a large bucket of lime taking up the space not allocated for your feet. This, with the use of a small gardeners spade, was used to sprinkle over your recycled dinner.
Once, very stupidly, I wanted to see how long a drop it was…
I had nightmares of the idea of running into the place, desperate, touching cloth, suffering a turtles head, then slam the door shut, and before you could get your eyes to adjust to the little cracks of sunlight penetrating around the wooden door, your buttocks were submerged in some other persons defecated last supper.
I had to know how much space was left. After all, people had donated for decades, and I needed to know how deep the whole hole was!
 So once, I took a peek. As usual, It didn’t occur to me to simply wait till night time and then shine a torch in it. No, not me. Much cleverer to set fire to a long roll of toilet paper and pop it down.
 As the three foot long strip, spinning eerily, descended, the flames started to reach an alarming height. In the next few milli seconds, my brain cells electrons joined and realized that perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea…
            With eyeballs bulging at the awful sight of a huge pyramid of defecation in every tone and constipation/diarrhoea of brown imaginable, rearing skywards at least half way up the ten foot deep shaft, complete with its own patrolling squadron of giant flies, I suddenly remembered that farts are flammable and Arabs use camel dung to make fires and ignited methane could be a killer! I shut the lid and burst through the door. I was about to shit myself whilst wondering how to explain to everyone in camp and my Boss, how and why, did I send the 30 odd year old long-drop into orbit?
The honest answer that I was interested to see how much poo there was in it, some how, would make a big brown mark on my report card, and list me as a Rhodesian lunatic…

To be continued…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice: Part Five

Before I start my inane witticism regarding my experiences with Number Two, I wish to make a serious comment.
What started off as a silly and albeit childish bum’s story has (as usual), landed up with me seeking, finding and researching, the most incredibly fascinating material.
So bear with me. Along with the laughs you will learn a lot about toilets.
This YouTube is excellent and well worth the seven minutes. It depicts the problems, social and economic, of hygiene in Indian slums. I was very impressed with the many similar related films. Unquestionably, YouTube isn’t just a music and madman’s stage show, but can offer unique educational footage of just about everything – and best of all…it is free.

My son Timi, 1998, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, on a Safari made Long-drop

So…now on with the show. 

As I was thrashing my brains all day with the next EA300 imminent assignment, my deep analis of world famous children’s literature prizes concluded that as I am not an American, the New Berry was out the question, but the Carnage award could be suspiciously mine. I only had to prove I have claimed benefits for six months or more in the UK - hence my enthusiasm to keep writing (about) crap.
I case you don’t remember, crap is assimilated with Thomas Crapper, the man who made having a crap a popular pastime. Presumably before then we considered this a waste of time and subsequently made haste with the waste before some one got wind of it.
But…as I researched away, the origins of this amazing word that achieved being a noun and a verb (officially) and orfically a lot more, is still controversial. All besides the porcelain point, because this next episode is dedicated to the ‘Long-Drop’.

A quick Google of Long-Drop reveals many links about hanging (as in with a rope around your neck). Why any one would be hanged or want to be hanged in a toilet is beyond me, for in mine and fellow Rhodesians terminology, a ‘Long-Drop’ is a rural toilet.
Also known as a pit-potty or pooing pitifully, the idea is simple – dig a hole and shit in it. The deeper the hole, the more dung can be flung down it and hence making the drop very long. Long-drops don’t have to be in the earth. The longest in use at the moment is on the International Space Station. Thankfully, by the time the stuff reaches rock bottom, it usually went through some Mid-West, Bible bashing American’s house roof. Good shot Comrade Ruskie!
Whilst the principle of a Long-Drop is rather simple, the technological advances surrounding what is basically a shit filled hole, is astounding. Even more astounding is what most of us would consider common sense, which simply either never occurred to the rural population of the majority of the developing world, or…more likely - simply couldn’t be arsed, because what was the point of having one – there is plenty of space in the bush.
I was trying to recall in all the time visiting kraals in Rhodesia if I ever caught a whiff off a Long-drop. Nope. Laterally surfing I came across this –
‘There were no toilets. We used secluded areas in the bushes and also used tree leaves and grass to wipe our bottoms.’
This was part of a story entitled: Escaped from Rhodesia’s Racial Discrimination, by a black, 56 year old Rhodesian-British lady called Thokozani, and was posted on the BBC web site My Story on 05/01/2010
Now, I admit, my immediate reaction after reading the title and speed reading to the sentence regarding her toilet practice, I bristled, thinking, ‘so, presumably, this is the racial Whiteman’s fault’, but, I read it again and again. It is a fabulous account of life in Rhodesia for a black rural child. It is told simply and with unbelievable honesty.
Read this carefully, for the Blackman is equally condemned for their abuse of power.

To be continued

Monday, February 08, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice: Part Four

Continuing the amazing and informative personal explanation of excreta expulsion across two continents of constant controversial continence…

In 1980 I would witness in Germany, a toilet that was so constructed as to have an ‘inspection plate’; a terminology coined by my fellow travelling Rhodie at the time. Instead of the poo plopping into the water (which occasionally would result in the awful ‘backsplash’, giving the strained brown eye a cold shower), it would lie on a flat part of the bowl to be looked at with biological interest.
Getting it down the well-hole was a different story. Depending on the diet, the shape, size and adhesive qualities; resulted in many ‘accidents’. Guinness beer and roast pork, when digested in equal proportions, resulted in a ‘tar-baby’ strong enough to rival super-glue. If the tsunami was released to flush the bugger down, waves of dark water would spray around the room, leaving the perfect coil washed, but not away. Eventually, experience would dictate to prod the offending jammed log with the brush in the direction of the watery grave, before hitting the rinse handle. 

But…there was a time when an inspection plate type ‘kazi’ (not to be confused with the corrupt bloke who ‘runs’ Afghanistan - this is Rhodie slang), would have come rather handy -  this was when you were suspected of having Bilharzias.
        This parasitic disease was responsible for being lame-arsed at school and wanting to lie in the fart-sack all day. (It is believed that it has cyber-genetically morphed and affects 7 in 9 adolescent users of X-Box, Nintendo and Sony PlayStations.) Actually, it is the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease after malaria. In simple terms, you would catch it whilst peeing or dumping in a lake or river – as this chart shows.

Every now and then, government officials would come around to our junior school and shove two injections into your shoulder. (See ‘Traumatised children and their fear of injections –especially the dentist.’ Or in plain text - Needle Phobia in Children: A Discussion of Aetiology and Treatment Options).
 Depending on the resultant ‘bumps’ that appeared around the puncture wounds, you might have it. I mighted have it and therefore went into Phase Two. Two - being the defining term - as I had to collect three days supply of reprocessed food from my anal orifice, where it would then be sent for further analysis. (The dung… not the bung-hole.)
The correct conclusion would have been that I am severely undernourished, but they weren’t interested in that.
I was actually really excited at the prospect of being riddled with the nasty flukes, as I had up till that point, believed the cure was by drinking three litres of Coca-Cola a day. (It turned out that, that part of the cure was drinking large amounts of fluid and as far as my parents were concerned, water was a cheap alternative.)
Being only 11 at the time, it was explained that I wasn’t required to supply every night’s dinner, but just a large spoon full. Ahh – me thinks (panic stricken), I will be supplied with one of those fiendish stainless steel devices used to dig, scrape and create balls of ice-cream from a bucket to be ejected on a wafer cornet, and I would be required to insert it into you know where. No, I had to squat over some newspaper and with a spoon, scrape off a ‘reasonable’ amount and place it in the plastic containers provided.
 Nice! Remember…Three Days supply. This is summer in Rhodesia; not winter in the UK. Doggy poo went rock hard and white in 24 hours on an urban lawn. So guess where the first two days supply were stored? How about between the cheese, salami, cucumber and Mum’s home-made yoghurts!

The results came back. Unfortunately, I wasn’t infected, and sadly, my father would conclude I was just an anal retard; destined to scratch my hole as a response to any question revolving around what I did with my meagre pocket money.

To be continued…

A personal note for EA300 fellow students.

Yes, you may think this is childish, but is this not ‘Instruction and Delight’ (Hunt. 2009. p12-25, Reader 1) as far as kids are concerned. They make as much fuss about what goes in them as what comes out. Except - 99.99% of Children’s Literature will mention the former, but never the latter. Food for thought - next time you go to the toilet.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice: Part Three

I would like to point out that in my 51 and a bit years, I have had a lot of experience regarding toilets. I have used them, installed them, cleaned them, and even thrown them out the window…

I suppose the average white mans toilet in urban Rhodesia,was very much what we could now purchase today in any British DIY.

As a kid, (in Rhodesia), I can’t remember when I first noticed a square flannel type object hanging from the latrines chrome handle. I certainly was never told what it was for, and I certainly wasn’t prepared to ask. I think it was to wipe splashes, which I sort of did. I must remember to ask my Step-Mum one day what the hell it was really for.

As for the brush, I think we had one of those, but little bowls, uncharged with beer, tended not to explode in such a way as to necessitate using the thing. This was all pre-Chinese plastic versions. Ours were Made in Rhodesia and had real wooden handles, and bristles like a death row electrified old mans beard, intertwined in a braided oval steel wire. Eventually that would go rusty, and leave hairs floating in the pan.

The domestics who lived in the ‘kia’ (usually a two room, small abode , built at the bottom of the back garden, with shared ‘kitchen’ and ablution facilities), had a different toilet to ours. Ours was white and called Shanks and was made from China, but not in China. Theirs was black (actually, very dark grey), and made from solid concrete.

Ours had really fancy works in its water box. I would take the lid off, which was rather heavy, and watch as the water screamed in, (never met a silent re-load yet), and watch how the copper bubble on its long thin arm, slowly raised until the hissing jet stream was cut off. At school they never explained the fascinating engineering that went into this.

The domestics had a different system. Theirs was a cast iron box mounted high above the head and a lever stuck out with a chain attached. Pull the chain and water whooshed down a pipe into the cavernous dark hole (no lid, or bum-hole seat).

In 1966, when at the age of eight and half, I spent Xmas with my biological mother in a working class city within a city – Salford. She lived in a condemned Victorian terraced house. There was no bathroom or in house little room. A bath was a large tin bucket with water heated from the coal fire.

I remember that, but more so, when in the confusing time as my parents split and I was shuffled backwards and forwards from the UK, I landed up staying with an Auntie. This is exactly as I had to bathe –

The biggest fear was that no one had a schilling to put in the gas meter!

Having a number two was scary, for the depository was in the back yard.

It looked a bit like this –

I recall that the flush refused to work one evening, no matter how my little shivering frame hung on it, but my mother’s husband sorted that out by beating the tank with a large stick. It was frozen stuck!

You can imagine how relieved I was to get back to Rhodesia!

To be continued…

A wonderful article from the Gazette (where I lifted some of the pics), about toilets and bathrooms 40 years ago in urban working class UK, can be found here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Toilets of Rhodesia and other Number Twos of Notice. Part Two

Before I continue down the sewerage lane, I would like to bring to your attention this nifty little device. The idea is that you put into this machine all dodgy office documents and they get converted into toilet paper. This amazing machine costs a mere £63k and can be installed in any government department that produce dossiers full of crap.

Now, the machine you see in the video is the Mark 2. The original model was installed in 2001 in 10 Downing Street, for the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, after former President Bush had ‘Buy one, Get one Free!’ put in the White House. However, they worked in reverse. Tony simply put crap filled toilet paper into one end and Hey Presto! - out came manuscripts claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which we now know was a load of bullshit, mostly Tony’s.

Amazingly (this is true), in Rhodesia in the late ‘70s, the government also had a machine making toilet paper from scraps. The problem was, no one was really sure what kind of scraps were put into it - as what came out, and then distributed to every school in the country, might have sort of looked like a toilet roll, but the ‘paper’ couldn’t absorb any form of moisture.

As I have often pointed out in previous postings, the Rhodesians invented the craft of recycling. Our school exercise books were of such loose fibres that we could only write with ballpoint pens. If you used an Indian ink fountain pen, the paper sucked out every drop in seconds, turning the page into a soggy blue sheet. But, the toilet paper had a hi-gloss shiny side of exceptionally good writing quality and the reverse was matt and could handle a pencil very well. Unfortunately, it couldn’t wipe your recycling orifice clean; hence if we hadn’t brought any decent TP from home, we simply used our Afrikaans homework books.

I often wondered what happened to the warehouses full of these toilet rolls. The stuff was almost indestructible and even pulling any off the roll could give you a serious paper cut. I think they were eventually used to print Zimbabwe money.

To be continued…

Monday, February 01, 2010

Precious? It’s Priceless!

Is this the best film critique ever?

I laughed so loud reading this. It is a piece of brilliant satire, and the author’s use of the English language is awesome. I hadn’t heard of the man until now. I know I will not read any of his comments on dubious films I happen to like. Such as the two that had me recently weeping drunkenly over my university set books – Akeelah and the Bee and The Freedom Writers Diary.

He would make me flagellate myself with guilt, before slashing my wrists!

You might have to look up some of the words he uses – I did, and it makes it all the worth while.

Dr Sukhdev Sandhu was educated at Oxford and has taught English literature at New York University. He won the British Press Awards for best critic in 2005. He is the author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined A City . Currently chief film critic of the Daily Telegraph, he also writes for the London Review of Books and Modern Painters.

Thank goodness he happens to be a British-Asian, for had this verbal dissesection been done by a British-Caucasian-Heterosexual-Lesbian-Gay-Transvestite-Evangelical-Atheist- 90hour a week self-employed; he/she would have been accused of stereotyping anarchistic xenophobic racialism.

I for one can’t wait to (er... meet a man in the pub, who has a dodgy copy of the film and left it accidently in my jacket pocket), watch it