DCs Station Chibi
In February 1969 Ian Paper gave up a farming career, having been brought up in the Mtoko / Mrewa district where his parents had been farming since 1946. Tobacco farming was being phased out due to worldwide sanctions imposed on the Rhodesian Government, so Ian was forced to look elsewhere for employment. Doug Walters the DC at Mrewa at the time arranged a posting to DC's Office Chibi and later that month Ian commenced duties as a Field Assistant. This is his story -
My wife and I were given a warm welcome by the small community that consisted of the DC's staff and three BSAP officers. There was a clubhouse, swimming pool and a tennis court. Much later the Member in Charge of the Police Station, Sgt (old ranks were being used in those early days) Felix Cuttner, an old school buddy from Plumtree School discovered an old golf course that had been left to overgrow. However, with the help from ADF labourers and local prisoners, it was not long before we could have a round of golf!
Chibi Station was about a two hour drive south west of Fort Victoria, centrally situated in the Chibi TTL. There was no electricity laid on to the houses so we had to make do with paraffin lamps and fridges. The main road to Beitbridge crossed the Tokwe River into Chibi TTL and flowed south into the very scenic Lunde River where the well-known Rhino Hotel made a welcome stop. This hotel was a great drinking spot for all Intaf staff who were spending the night at the Madzivere Rest Camp not far from there. On many occasions one could take in the fantastic sunsets, viewing the hippo in the Lunde River.
It was not hard to settle into my new job. I was given a Peugeot truck, an ADF canvass camping pack and a DA who knew the area very well. My initial role as a Field Assistant as given to me by DC Jim Latham was to get to know where all the dip tanks and water boreholes were situated. There were several rest camps available to make night stops, with all the necessary comforts, including an elderly cook who lived near the rest camp. A month later Jim Latham was replaced by Rupert Goosen. During my first year with Rupert Goosen I went on a number of ADF courses and workshops in Salisbury and at the end of it was promoted to Primary Development Officer. As the time passed, as a PDO I became more involved with several ADF projects.
My first major project was working with John Becking, the Agriculture Officer, on the Musuvugwa Irrigation Scheme west of Chibi township. The Department of Water Works planned the scheme, pumping water from the Lunde River to flood irrigate the land from a concrete canal system. Funds were made available from the ADF for this project. John Becking surveyed the area and instructed me where the canals were to be built. With my ADF team and builders we got on with the job.
Local tribesmen were selected to farm the scheme with the assistance from local Agricultural Advisers and from what I remember the area changed from that point on. Maintaining the roads in Chibi district was another one of my main duties. The gravel road from the DCs Station to the main Fort Victoria / Beitbridge road was a distance of approximately 30 Km and was heavily used by bus companies. They created bone shaking corrugations. We had a triangular shaped metal frame with old truck tyres bolted to the frame which was dragged behind a tractor to smooth out the corrugations. Whenever the PC visited this became the number one priority job; to make sure that the PC had a smooth drive to Chibi!
I also had the chance to build a new dip tank for a group of locals, who for many years and to drive their cattle over long distances to get to the dip tanks on dipping days. An African Dip Attendant Clerk was employed by the DC's Station and his job was to maintain the cattle registration book. In 1971 / 72 the DC gave instructions for a cattle stock count to be done. All the Headmen in the area were given notice to present all of their cattle on set days at their respective Dip Tanks. This was a huge job that took several months to complete by the Dip Attendant Clerk, a number of DAs and myself. On some occasions a normal dipping day turned into two days, which was as a result of large numbers of unregistered cattle being in the area. It was essential to dip cattle regularly as they were prone to a myriad of diseases which could spread quickly and affect whole herds. Cattle were considered the wealth of the people and therefore needed to be well looked after.
I was also involved in the census of people living in Chibi TTL. This was another enormous task, having to visit every village with some DAs accompanying me. They assisted with gathering the people together to be counted. On one occasion I arrived at a kraal that consisted of between 15 and 20 huts which belonged to an old man. He had 10 wives and was the father of 96 children. This task was completed after some weeks in the field.
In 1972 there was a change of DC. The new DC was Keith Bloore and his wife Peggy. I knew them when they lived in Mtoko when I was still at school. Keith Bloore was very efficient and kept his staff well informed of all matters pertaining to the district. My wife, Hazel was given the opportunity to estabilsih and run the first post office in Chibi. She had one of the DAs, a fellow by the name of "Wonder”, to assist her.
In 1972 a new weir / dam was being built on the Tokwe River north east of Chibi village as there was an association with Shabani Asbestos Mine. The Department of Water Works and Intaf drew up a plan to tap water from the weir so as to help the local tribesmen as they had very little access to water. What they did have was from their efforts to dig pits in the dried up river beds. ADF funds became available to get the scheme going.
The Headmen and local people made an enormous community effort to dig approximately 20 - 30 Km of trenches by hand so that I could lay PVC piping with my ADF workers. The Department of Water Works did all the work from the weir to the pump house which was built by our ADF builder. The water would then be pumped to a high point on a hill some 8 Km away. The ADF builders and I constructed three large reservoirs for storage purposes. The water from this point flowed by gravitation some 15 km down to the Chibi African Township as well as a number of lines branching off to smaller storage tanks and cattle drinking troughs. The project was successfully completed and brought water to the area.
In 1973 I was then transferred to Marandellas.
Staff at DCs Station Chibi at this time
DC Jim Latham
DC Rupert Goosen
DC Keith Bloore
DO Tony Turner
DO Norman Grant
Cadet Geoff Cannon
Cadet Dave Rockingham-Gill
Pay Master Ian Innes
Agric Officer Barry Peters
Agric Officer John Becking
PDO Pat Moore
PDO Ian Paper
Field Assistant J.P. van Graan
Field Assistant Danie Nel
Building dip tanks in Chibi. Ian Paper photograph.
Geoff Higgs was posted to Chibi as District Commissioner as per the newspaper clipping. His daughter very kindly allowed us the use of many of his notes and photographs.