I was born in Africa… in a country called Northern Rhodesia, today’s, Zambia.
My life started with a big surprise when I was 9 months old, not that i can remember all that clearly. From a story told by my mum, I won my first competition at 9 months old! Here I am having just won the “Baby Wide-Eyed” competition thanks to great parents and genes. What a great start I had in life.
We moved to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) from Northern Rhodesia (now Zanbia), where I spent my formative years growing up. I had some big dreams as a young boy, like most of us. You know what I mean… like “what I want to be when I grow up!” Some of my early ambitions were pilot, soldier and dancer to mention but a few.
Your Dreams and Life’s Dreams!
I have added into my story important things I have learnt in life, which are in purple, from the analytical reflection of my history. I hope you enjoy reading “My Story”
As you may have experienced, we have many dreams as a child growing up, however, we find that life often alters those dreams, as if providence had other ideas of how we would get there. Destiny plans another route and turns our dreams around, like a riddle, and fulfills our dream in a way we never expected.
My mother was a professional Ballet dancer and Choreagrapher. I followed in her footsteps for about 4 years from the age of 7, trying ballet, dancing and acting, but the bullying and mocking at school was too much for me to bear, so I quit. My childhood hero however, was Desmond Kelly, of the now English National Ballet Company. He left an indellible imprint on my psyche – one that was to be revisited in my 30’s.
My Father was a professional soldier. Do you think he approved of my plans to dance and do ballet? I’ll leave that to your imagination, but my story is similar to that of the Billy Elliot film which you may have watched.
An Entrepreneurial twist…
After I quit ballet I decided to try something else. Mmmm… let’s see, something boys were more interested in. How about Bicycle racing” As it turns out this was to be my first entrepreneurial business and my first lesson about being in business. You won’t become successful, on your own, without any help! The help for me came from my Grandfather, who lived in the Republic of South Africa and owned a printing business. And so it was, with a bit of Grandfather’s insight, that I founded the “Eagle Bicycle Club.” It wasnt something on my dream list, but hey, I was enjoying myself and learnt how to market and sell my concept to the other kids on the block. I was soon making money selling membership cards for 10 cents a piece, to have access to the bicycle track race that was every kids dream at the time. While I steadily grew my business, I was the slowly becoming the rich kid on the block with pocket money to buy sweets while the other kids were stealing sweets (and I might add – getting caught). Sadly, that all came to an end a few years later as I was whisked off to boarding school at Chaplin High in Gwelo (Gweru today).
Determination & Accomplishments…
Boarding school made me determined and more successful in some ways. It wasn’t easy but the discipline and structure molded me in important ways that have always helped me accomlish my goals.
At 14 I became one the youngest solo glider Pilot’s in my club’s history and in the nation. I discovered my love of flying, by flying with the eagles by day and never really went out “Hooting” with the owls by night (my friends that spent their nights in the pubs drinking and partying), although we did have some wild parties from time to time at the gliding club.
I also excelled in sport at school, playing schoolboys grass hockey for the National team and played against other nations, one example was UK team, the Dragons. I also captained and lead other school sports teams in Cross-country and Athletics where important leaderships skills were forged.
Nevertheless, despite my successes in these areas, I constantly struggled academically throughout high school managing only to scrape by with average grades.
New Land and New Dreams…
With those wonderful memories, we emmigrated to South Africa, not because I wanted to but because I had to. My family decided to flee the political turmoil of Zimbabwe in the early 80’s while I stayed to finish my schooling until I followed them south one year later. Todays repressive government still exists under president Mugabe and most people know some of the atrocious acts commited by this regime over the last decades.
“The past should be left in the past because it can destroy your future. Live your life in the hope of what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.”
My Big Lesson in Life… The Difference between Training and Education!
Ever heard the saying, “Like Father, Like Son”! It seems that I was destined to follow in my father’s footsteps after I moved to South Africa. To cut a long story short, and to please my Dad, I signed-up for military training. Again I out-preformed the other troops through massive action and hard work to win the “Sword of Honour” and “Best Candidate Officer” of our intake of 1500 troops. I was also given a “recommendation” for leadership success by the unit commander. I served for a short while as a training instructor in a regimental branch of the unit for leaders and then was posted to do some work in action during the bush war. Suddenly one day I thought to myself that I shouldn’t really be here. The fighting, killing – what was the purpose of it all. I realised I needed to be doing something else with my life. To be honest I wasn’t sure “why” and “what” I was doing in the military and I sure wasn’t enjoying my time there at this point.
After serving and seeing the horrible results and effects of the bush war I decided I didn’t want to die for something I didn’t understand, even though at the time I guess I believed I was fighting for freedom against Communism. I don’t think I need to tell you all the gory details, but my experience in the army is where I learned the biggest lesson of my life! The difference between training and education! I had the best military training in the world but I didn’t have an education. So what’s the difference? The difference is between “Know how” (training) and “Know why” (education). Thinking back, where is all that gone today… all the politics of appartheid South Africa?
I am still a fighter today but I am fighting for my freedom and education in a different context altogether.