Piet Hugo

Name ID 1697

See also

Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 011
Extract Date: 1950's

The Verandah Farmers

"IT's going around that we 0l Mologans are only verandah farmers! "

"Well, I wish some of those lazy baskets down below would take over my verandah, particularly the one on the combine," Robin grimaced, as he refilled David's and Piet's glasses with more whisky.

Robin stands six foot but he seemed small beside our neighbours, Piet Hugo and David Read, who were both considerably taller and broader. They all wore sun-faded jeans with openneck shirts. A film of wheat chaff and dust coated their faces, hair and clothes, and with their red-rimmed eyes, sore from the glare and dust of driving their combine harvesters all day, they looked like three amiable ruffians planning a revolution.

At Ol Molog, like few places in Africa, we had two crop seasons each year. We were in the middle of a harvest, a frantic period of activity when the farmers rushed to get their wheat crops off, the fields harrowed, ploughed and planted before the rains came again, when the pressure would ease a little and they could return to their normal farming routine. From the moment the large combine harvester, rumbling and shaking, with its hume reel a wide mouth of chattering teeth, began eating its way through the standing corn, until the last bag was sewn up and the whole crop was loaded on to lorries to take it to the millers eighty miles away, the farmers worked like men possessed.

Ol Molog has a haunting beauty all of its own. No one who sees it is ever likely to forget it. Even those who have heard its praises sung and arrive sceptical fall under its spell. To approach it from the north requires driving or flying across the wastelands of Masailand and, if these are anything to go by, a certain amount of doubt as to what Ol Molog is going to be like must arise in the minds of visitors. Then, perched like an eagle's eyrie on the mountain slopes, are a small group of beautiful, wellordered farms backed by forest and the huge mountain itself.

Ol Molog lies at 6,500 feet up on the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro before the mountain rises steeply into the cupola peak of Kibo, with its crusted snow cap shimmering down its sides. The Kenya border is ten miles below the farms, and had not Queen Victoria felt so generously disposed to her nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm, and given him Kilimanjaro `because the dear boy is so fond of mountains', Ol Molog would have been in Kenya and not Tanganyika.

The Masai plains stretch for over a hundred miles from Ol Molog, with long, low mountain ranges and jagged peaks breaking the horizon. Our view was panoramic in extent and varied day to day, almost hour by hour, as if an artist had never tired of using the same theme with different nuances. At times frothy cumulus nimbus clouds sailed like galleons over the sky, casting dark shadows on the plains, whose biscuit, sienna and ochre hues became more defined after a fall of rain. Far off mountains drew closer in their blue fig tinted splendour. When it was hot and dry, the colours were leached out and the mountains austerely withdrew behind a milky heat haze. Brown dust devils spiralled lazily up as if they would reach the clouds, or a plume of dust would trail behind a Masai herd of cattle, which we could not see but knew must be on the move.

Our sunsets seldom failed in magnificence. Most evenings we would sit on our verandah looking to the west on a sky, a glorious canvas of colour. Like a large orange phosphorescent balloon, the sun would irradiate shafts of lambent flame, brushing the soft billowy clouds with their downy grey centres, so that they looked as if they were gently smouldering.

The winds off the snows of Kilimanjaro brought with them sharp cold nights, heavy dew and mornings that were crystalline like champagne. We had two rainy seasons. In October and January when the rain was intermittent, and from April to May when it poured with a vengeance, filling our mornings with cold damp mist and turning the soil into a quagmire of cloying mud. Perhaps our most beautiful month was June, when our days were alpine in their crispness, clarity and sunshine.

Ol Molog is a Masai name, romantic to us even when we learnt its translation of `little pimples', which was evidently what the Masai considered the small hills resembled which erupted in our area. We had a hill feature on our farm comically called Loikitoip, but there were others with more mystical names such as Ketembellion and Legumishira.

With our bland climate and fertile forest loam soil, we might have been anywhere but in Africa, but we only had to drop down below our lower boundary into the `big country', which for years had drawn men and women from all over the world on shooting and photographic safaris. Hot by day, cool by night, it is typical of what people conjure up when they think of East Africa. Arid plains that are sparsely covered with flat-topped acacia, yellowbarked fever trees and skeletal whistling thorn, so named because their black pods are honey-combed with ants so when the wind blows, the pods whistle eerily. There is hardy scrub, brittle-tufted grass and occasional rocky outcrops. Dry sandy river beds, with their slopes steeply eroded, meander pointlessly away from their mountain sources. Now and then green swamps border on wide stretches of land where no vegetation survives.

Immediately at our feet lay Lake Amboseli, which up to the 'twenties shimmered under a sheet of water, but now lies dessicated with myriad game tracks traced over it. Sometimes after a heavy fall of rain it resembles a lake again, but the dry thirsty earth greedily drinks, leaving the surface caked and cracked, over which the game once more wanders in search of salt pans and grazing.

The harsh, sun-drenched heat, the dust and the flies are all part of Africa, as are the Masai, whose manyattas (dwellings) dot the landscape. They leave timeless scars on the ground where they have burnt their old manyattas to move on in their semi-nomadic state.

Extract ID: 4444

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Elizabeth Palfrey
Page Number: 2004 06 21
Extract Date: 1950's

Elizabeth Palfrey - Arusha School 1950's?

I'm so excited!

I was doing some research on Arusha because I went to school there and lived at Olmolog when I came across your sight. Time was suddenly peeled away and the memories flooded back.

My father, Arthur Palfrey, farmed at Olmolog and Piet Hugo was our next door neighbour. He is buried in the Christian cemetery in Arusha. I left East Africa in 1960 to emigrate to the U.S.

My brother in law was Roy Holmes who married my sister, Anne Palfrey. Roy Holmes passed away in Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu-Natal in January 2003. He worked in Arusha on the film 'Hatari'.

Currently, I live in Texas but my family all live in South Africa. My maiden name was Elizabeth Palfrey.

Extract ID: 4849

See also

Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 014a
Extract Date: 1951

Piet Hugo

Piet Hugo, an Afrikaner and a fighter pilot of great renown in the R.A.F., who had probably flown more operational hours than any other man in Fighter Command, and who was an old friend of Robin's, was given farm No. 1. Robin had lost track of him after the war and thought he had returned to South Africa, where his ancestors had settled in the 17th Century, so there was a great reunion when the two friends found themselves both waiting to appear before the same Selection Committee.

Piet is a massive man, barrel-chested and strong, and looks as if he has been hewn out of granite, but by nature he is gentle and imperturbable. He has a widely retentive mind and is not only an expert on all farm machinery, but is a layman vet. With his calm, quiet strength, his affinity with animals and children, he is a bulwark in the area.

Extract ID: 4446

See also

Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 015b
Extract Date: 1951

Robin Johnston

Robin, in partnership with Sir Archibald McIndoe, the famous plastic surgeon, was given farm No. 6. He was born in South Africa of Irish parentage and at the age of eleven, his mother, widowed in the First World War, took him and his sister to England to live. He was sent to Cheltenham College where it took some time for him to be changed from a small, freckled, crop-haired South African into an orthodox English public school boy. His main interests were riding, fishing and shooting and as a youth he went exploring in Newfoundland, salmon fishing in Iceland, and captained the English Public Schools Shooting Eight on a tour of Canada in 1935, winning the individual aggregate himself.

At Cambridge he joined the Senior O.T.C. and became a member of the Horse Gunners. In this way he got as much riding as he wanted, which he would otherwise not have been able to afford. His real love was flying and, without telling the O.T.C., he simultaneously became a member of the Cambridge Air Squadron where he got his pilot's licence. Somehow he also found time to get an Honour's Degree in Anthropology and Economics, and subsequently joined the Tanganyika Colonial Service.

Robin had hardly arrived in Tanganyika to take up his first post as Assistant District Officer, when war broke out. Though he persistently asked to be released, the Government ignored his pleas, maintaining that he was in a reserved occupation, so he decided to run away and join the R.A.F.

He distinguished himself both in the Western Desert, where he commanded 73 Squadron, and as a Wing Leader of 122 Wing in the Tactical Air Force. He came out of the fray with a D.S.O. and D.F.C. and Bar. During the war he was sent to East Grinstead Hospital, which was under Archie McIndoe, for an operation on his hand. A streptococcus infection kept him tied to the hospital for several months. However it allowed a great and lasting friendship between Archie and himself to develop.

With Sir Richard Atcherley, he and other notable fighter pilots like Piet Hugo, built up the Central Fighter establishment at Wittering and later at Tangmere. Under Atcherley's enthusiasm, Robin was momentarily persuaded to apply for a permanent commission in the R.A.F., which he was awarded, but he found the call of Africa was still too strong and foremost in his mind, so he withdrew his application.

When he left the R.A.F. he worked with Sir Ralph Furse in the Colonial Office for a year on the selection of Administrative officers, before returning to Tanganyika. While he was District Commissioner, Kongwa, during the ill-fated Groundnut Scheme, he was awarded an M.B.E., whether for good service or in an attempt to try and muffle his increasing protests at the mismanagement of the Scheme, he admits ruefully he was never quite sure.

Extract ID: 4450

See also

nTZ Feedback
Page Number: 2004 12 30
Extract Date: 1955-58

Eric Six - Arusha School 1955 - 1958

My name is Eric Six, Geoff Jones gave me your website, and it was fascinating to read about folks about whom I had not thought in years, surprisingly I was more familiar with the adult names than fellow students. I attended Arusha 1955 to 1958, then went on to Iringa, where I stayed till it closed in1963. There were only a handful that saw the entire life of StM & StG. I completed High School at Prince of Wales in Nairobi.

For those that knew me in school it comes as a surprise that I eventually became a Neurosurgeon, as I have to confess being a fairly lousy student, being more familiar with the tacky, and cane or cricket bat (if you crossed HA Jones); than with prizes in the school magazine. I too was brought up in the bush, in Kiru Valley about 100 miles from Arusha on the way to Babati.( David you were familiar with North Lewis, they lived about 25 miles from us off the Singida road.) Hunting was a way of life on the farm, but after doing that much hunting as a youth, I shoot only with a camera now.

David, I noticed that Elizabeth Palfry also lives in Texas---- I would appreciate you giving her my web address if she would like to write. I am familiar with her Dad, through my parents of course. Funnily enough I also knew Pete Hugo, and a number of the farmers from the Olmolog area.

I was sitting here trying to recall the names of classmates from 50 years ago with little success.

Geoff Jones (BLs son),

Corky Morgan {Father's namesake the old man liked to pull on your ears.},

Gerald Hunwick, {TFA}

John Cashin {PWD},

Clara De Liva,

Paul Marsh,

David Ulyate {farm},

Leslie Hague {The Beehive Restaurant}

Bizarrely I cannot recall but the one girl!

(Fritz Jacobs, Erik Larsen.Klaus Gaitja, Alex Zikakis, Hannes Matasen, Ivo Santi Barry Jones Louis van Royen Kevin Legrange were on either side of us) I am told that George Angelides still lives in Arusha and has a great reputation as a hunter guide.

Do you remember that little dog of Hamshire's, the miserable devil loved to chase us, I happened to be amongst those she caught and got bitten by, I still have the scar..

Sorry about all the parentheses but saves a whole lot of explaining.

After independence my Dad built a number of hotels in Tanzania ,amongst them Lobo lodge, Ngorongoro crater lodge ( the hotel on the rim just before getting to the original rondavels) and rebuilt the hotel on manyara escarpment, those all happened in the late 60's. They also managed Hotels in Zanzibar, and Dar-- the New Africa and Kilimanjaro being better known.

Enough from me. Please remember to pass my address to Elizabeth.

Dear Eric,

I am just catching up with things after Christmas, and realise that I didn’t reply to your email from 30 November. However, I was away in Zambia for most of the month of December.

By bcc I am copying Elizabeth Palfry with your email, and shall leave it to her to get in touch with you.

Thanks for all your memories of Arusha and Tanzania. If you ever have time to write more, do please keep in touch. I hope to have your email up on the web site in the next few days. You will also be interested in a History of Arusha School (up to 1971) which will be available in full. I found it a fascinating read, and help me to understand some of the things that happened at the school, which made no sense to me back in 1953-57.

You mention the North-Lewis’s. I think that when we left Arusha in 1957 we gave them one of our dogs, which within a few weeks was eaten by a leopard!

Did you find the photo, probably of their home, at http://www.ntz.info/gen/n00452.html#04078. I seem to remember on that trip that a snake was found under our car, and it had to be shot before we could leave!

You mention Paul Marsh – my brother!

Thanks again for you memories – keep them coming

Extract ID: 4962

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM
Page Number: 05
Extract Date: 1970


Sadly however, my father had to return home to the UK and died later that year from complications following an operation. The Col continued to run Ogaden for another 2 years and then decided that aged 75 he should move to live in Nairobi where Paddy Purchase was living and where he had many other friends through his interest in Sports etc. He sold Ogaden to a Derek somebody i cant remember, but he was never paid as agreed and got the farm back with the help of his great friend Charles Withers Payne. Charles was a lawyer who at some point had blotted his copy book but was able to practise in Tanzania. A lovely old gent who drove an American Chev he called Queen Mary and who was well known by the farmers and who in later years as you read on, you will learn was honoured for his work in trying to get the Tanzanian Government to stick to its promises to the farmers.

Eventually the Colonel sold Ogaden to somebody else but the money of course was stuck in a Tanzanian bank. Thus in 1970 when he was told there was a farm for sale in West Kilimanjaro, 2000 acres next to his old friend Piet Hugo he decided to buy it. He put a manager in place and commuted down as often as he could but of course during the early to mid 70's, Tanzania had closed its borders with Kenya due to a dispute over East African Airways and Tourism amongst other things. This made his visits difficult so his friend Charles Withers Payne helped him get the necessary paperwork as a land owner to avoid too many questions from the rather difficult border officials on both sides. He developed a system of arriving at Namanga in his car and appearing very old and doddery and exaggerated the use of a walking stick! He was by then getting on for 80 anyway. This usually got him through but hidden in his car were supplies for the farm and requests from friends as at this time it was difficult to get many basic things in Tanzania. He also always attended the St George's Day Dinner in Arusha if he could get down.

Extract ID: 5526

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM
Page Number: 06
Extract Date: 1975

compulsory purchase

The purchase of this farm turned out to be very wise and beneficial as though he bought it because he found it difficult not to have a farming interest and realised there wasn't much point in having the money sitting in a Tanzanian bank, when the Government announced in 1975 that they wanted to compulsory purchase 26 arable farms in West Kilimanjaro, the British Govt offered compensation to the British farmers which could be paid out of the country. Of course if you were one of the many non British farmers then you were paid in Tanzanian shillings and the money was virtually worthless. It was for his work in helping all these farmers that Charles Withers Payne was awarded an OBE.

Thus ended my uncles farming life in Tanzania. He would have liked to have bought a farm in Kenya but as he was not a Kenya citizen he was not able to buy land, only a residential house. He had spent 28 years farming in Tanzania, nearly as long as his first career but he retired to Nairobi, supported the Rugby, Hockey and Cricket teams had many friends and visited the UK and SA every other year to see his family. In fact he lived for a further 19 years and died 2 months after his 99th in 1994. I am pleased to say that i went out for his 99th Birthday and though he had given up driving a few months earlier and was suffering from the ravages of old age, his mind was as sharp as ever. The Col was a tremendously loyal friend and he never went to the UK or SA or anywhere else without visiting old friends from Tanzanian days. He regularly saw Piet Hugo in SA who of course was very depressed as he had been treated so badly having been thrown off his farm and kicked out of the country with 24 hours notice to leave. It was a case of mistaken identity!

In 1988 he took Jonathan Scott the Photographer, writer and now TV presenter, who he had befriended through Rugby in Nairobi, on a long safari introducing him to the game parks of Tanzania and used the opportunity to visit Oldiani again. He was by then, 93 years old!

Extract ID: 5527

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM
Page Number: 07
Extract Date: 1980

friends from the Tanzanian days

Among his friends from the Tanzanian days, whose names I remember, are

Olivia Duncan who farmed and indeed may still be, in Oldiani at Ben Du Estate.

I remember, Jock and Cise Taylor,

Mr and Mrs Koch who farmed Silverdale Estate at Weru Weru, next to us,

Bill and Joan Forder, we loved their swimming pool at there house in Moshi.

They were very kind to us and Jackie Forder, their daughter is now married to Seamus Brice Bennet and they own and run and Marangu Hotel in Moshi.

I remember Spookie Speight from Oldiani, Sidney and Marisha Meyer from Arusha,

Polly Bloom, who was a man so must have been a nick name,

Doug and Beryl Haig, farmers at Oldiani who went on to run Lodges and may still do!

Ken and Lorna Pugh I knew in the UK but Ken was a surveyor and I believe surveyed the Oldiani farms in the 50's early 60's.

I remember Vic and Joyce Stuchsbury, I think Vic was an Accountant in Tanzania but we met many times in the UK after they left and the Col visited them.

From West Kilimanjaro i remember the names of Paddy Fox, Michael Wood, the Flying Dr and Piet Hugo.

Extract ID: 5528
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