On the 14th April 1955 a honeymoon couple flew into the mountain at this spot. Years later their family came and built a memorial. I often go there, not because of the memorial, but because of the view. I don’t capture it in my photos, but I try. If the couple had looked back, in the moments before impact, this is the view they would have seen:
Over the years, we took people to the crash site.
It’s an easy climb for kids and provides a ‘human interest’ angle. Kids would rush about collecting bits and pieces of the plane, running back to us with handfuls of squished aluminum shards, hotly debating which part of the plane they could have come from. I went there recently and could hardly find any pieces of the plane, any evidence that an accident happened there at all. Those tiny pieces are somewhere: in a cupboard, musty attic, decorating a pot plant. The gardener perhaps swept them off the bottom of the vehicle, where they’d been abandoned once the kid got home or they were thrown out the back door by the maid, dug out of a dirty shorts-pocket. I’d say they are probably better distributed than ashes in the wind.
If I were to choose a place to die, I think it would be somewhere like this, maybe not at that age, or honeymooning, but possibly in a big bang like that. Here one minute, gone the next.
A few kilometers to the north is Zinjanja (Regina) Ruins, another place we often visit. I usually stroll over to the two graves outside the complex fence, absorb the view, feel the wind on my face, alive.
I’m guessing those two men didn’t go out with such a bang, but they too got a fabulous view to command for eternity. I haven’t even bothered to post a pic of that panorama, it is endless and African, barren and vast and empty.
I often wonder if their family ever came out and stood over their bones, looked down at the ‘little corner of England’ their sons occupy, if they took in the view as the French family did when they built the memorial. I don’t believe those two men had any idea back in green, green England that they would perish, forever remain in that dry, barren corner of the “Empire.”
Standing there, I close my eyes, imagine the fight, the shots, the terrifying Matabele warriors, pouring over the hill. The stab, the thrust. Screams and yells, dust and heat.
Of course, they could have died of malaria, or dysentery, or fell off a horse, a broken hip turning gangrenous. A long slow death. Maybe one of them got drunk, fell over his feet, breaking his neck. Maybe the other one died later, from an AD (accidental discharge.) Sounds like the guns were notoriously dangerous.
I can’t tell when they died, or who they were, because the brass plaques were unscrewed and sold as scrap years ago, but they died in the service of the King (or Queen), the crosses at the head of the graves are still there to tell me that much.
We have many graves on the farm in Fort Rixon. Battles were fought over this ground. Some are marked others are just a pile of rocks, heaped at the side of a road.
As a child I was told the rocks were to stop hyena digging up the body. I always wondered at the differentiation: worms were OK, hyena’s were not.
Now of course as an adult, I understand its not the dead body who cares, its us, the living. We never experience our own death, only our loved ones do. We just slip away, out of this world and leave them to dispose of the detritus.
These pics were taken one evening stumbling down the hillside in the half dark. We had been up there taking photos of the sunset and left it rather late. I’m glad really, because these are some of my favorite photos of this view.
Further up the hill is a trig beacon. Its also an easy enough climb if it weren’t for the stinging nettles!! It’s a great place to go and commune with nature, heal the soul…
The sunsets are awesome from here, the view towards Bulawayo, the Mulungwane range, and Essexvale Ranch unmistakable.
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