My friend Nontando is shown here in her flat in Bulawayo. This was possibly at the end of our road trip in the summer of 2001. I had known Nontando since the time that I had taught in Zimbabwe during 1996 and 1997. I paid a lot of visits back to Zimbabwe after I left at the end of 1997. Each time I returned, the currency was worth less and less in real terms. The decline of living standards and the availability of food in the shops was shocking.


Nontando’s partner is a British man who emigrated to Zimbabwe in the 1960s as a young man. I rented a room in a house he owned on Barbour Avenue in the area called Parkview. It was a grand old house with a metal corrugated roof and a borehole with the date 1890 on it. I taught mathematics and physics A-level at Mzilikazi High School. I did an alright job but looking back on it, I realise that there was a lot that I could have done better. I had actually forgotten a lot of the A-level mathematics that I had studied in my youth. Despite this, I managed alright and the class that I taught for two years came out with decent results.


On my numerous visits back to Zimbabwe between 1998 and 2013, I have met up with Nontando either in Bulawayo, Johannesburg or Mbabane. She has a teenage son with her partner as well as another son from a previous relationship. In recent years, I havent seen her as often as I would have liked and it is always surprising to see how much bigger and older her sons are.

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Bulawayo in particular has a special place in my heart. I know it very well and have spent many happy hours at Matopos National Park to the south of the city. This is well worth a visit and has beautiful granite balancing rocks that used to feature on the old Zimbabwe dollar notes. It also has cave paintings made by San bushmen many thousands of years ago.

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