Part 5 - Ndola and back to the U K

I arrived in Ndola with all my worldly belongings in one suitcase, and my rifle slung over my shoulder.

I had got a lift down from Shiwa with a government officer in his Chevrolet vanette. I had been into Ndola only once before from Shiwa when I had gone to collect a new Bedford lorry from Border Motors. I had stayed at the Rhodes Hotel and had arranged by telegram to meet my brother there as it was the only place I knew.

My brother Stan, only one year older than me, had been training as an architect in Umtali while I was 'up North' and had recently come to work in Ndola. He collected me as arranged and I moved into his accommodation. I was immediately involved in 'town life' and must have felt like Crocodile Dundee in New York. I had to look out for traffic, people I did not know, noises at night, trains whistling and shunting in the goods yards, shops, (OK Bazaars and Mandala etc), where you could buy almost anything, bars, cinemas, clubs, aircraft flying overhead, parties, barbecues. And people my own age, male and female!! Since the age of 17 when we travelled north from Bulawayo I had known none of these things and had not missed them. My life had been as far as I knew it, complete. I loved the bush life, the hunting, learning the languages, working with my father, the total silence at nights, camp fires, bush fires, village drums and occasional visits by and to fascinating people had been my whole world.

I got a temporary job with a building supply company and learned the names and details of all the bits and pieces used in building and construction that I had had to do without before. I particularly enjoyed driving the three-wheel tractor unit with a trailer for moving materials around the yard. I had been driving lorries since I was 16 and in Bulawayo I had driven a 5 ton Austin with a trailer while I still had a plaster cast on my leg.

I joined the flying club. My brother had obtained a private pilots license and I set out to do the same. I learned on a piper cub with my instructor Peter Ovenstone and eventually got my license but got into trouble for various 'infringements' such as taxiing under the wing of a B.O.A.C. VC10, doing a 'ground loop' when landing downwind for not noticing the wind direction had changed, and for trying to blow over the sailing boats on the dambo. All great fun!! I was not a very good pilot but loved the freedom in the air and managed to get 'flying hours' by helping ferry our aircraft to Mufulira and Kitwe for them to use so I was able to see some of the other Copperbelt towns, at least from the air.

I fitted in well to this new life but still hankered after the bush. I found that being constantly friendly to strangers as one would be in the bush was not always appreciated, especially with young men who thought I was chatting up their girlfriends. Perhaps I was. My brother was rather more aggressive than I was and the Corner Bar, with it's Western-style batwing doors was a frequent haunt and from there we got involved in more than one fracas, helped along with a good intake of Lion or Castle. (I preferred Castle)

I moved into digs with Mrs Keddie who ran a sort of boarding house and had a room of my own and a bit more peaceful life. A record player and radio. The radio was great. I could hear David Davies at 'RadioClub de Lorenco Marques' and as I am sure all who heard him remember his style, and the adverts RRRRobiolac etc. Miriam Makeba and Alex Nkhata from Lusaka radio. I used to love hearing the clatter of trains in the sidings in the early hours of the morning at the time when I would normally have been preparing to get up and go hunting before dawn if I had been in the bush.

I changed jobs and went to work for a small builder and was involved in a new paint-shop for Border Motors, a house for 'Ginger' Katz and the new flour mill beside the railway.

I suppose this was the 'teenage' growing up period that I had missed out on. I enjoyed the corner bar, Rhodes hotel, BESL club, the cinema (was it the Bijou) and the parties and braais and all the things that I see so much written about by the 'Copperbelters' in the other parts of this site and about which I knew nothing before. Lots of 'Fun, Friends and Cold Castle', playing Bok Bok in strange places, singing 'na lo nyuni lapa stick ena calla, ena calla' etc etc 'ubani ena bulalila lo nyuni cocky lobin.', they were fun times but I did have to do something else for the future and I did not see it being in a town.

Our dog, Orchid, who had braved the bush life and survived being attacked by a leopard at Kalungu, was killed by a leopard in Ndola!!

My parents moved down from Kasama to Ndola prior to going on long leave to UK after their 3 year 'tour' and I decided to go back with them to UK in the autumn of 1952.

We travelled from Capetown on the smallest Union Castle ship, the Dunottar Castle and went West coast stopping at Saint Helena and Tenerife, very interesting but I wanted to see what the UK with all the changes since the wartime way of life I had left behind was like now.

We arrived in time for the 'Great Flood' of the east of England and I volunteered to help on the sea defence work, but I did get paid, £12 a week which was great, and we needed the money. I got into trouble with the 'professional' labourers because I was carrying 2 sandbags at a time when they carried only one. Shades of the trade union disputes later on!!! Apart from that and the removal of the 'sweet rationing' which had been in force since I was eight years old, and visiting hordes of relative in many parts of UK, and seeing my first black and white television, nothing much had really changed and I was pleased to get on the Winchester Castle for our return trip to N. R. and whatever that might bring.

There was lots to come. Of that, more next time.

Roy Williams