I have been to Zimbabwe many times and lived through some of the stories of Ameva. I have been there when it was so dry that all the rivers had stopped running and the first dam on the farm was just like fish and frog soup. I had the responsibility of getting hold of the forms from Harare that were needed for the school on the farm to be registered properly. I have taught in the Bible School and Junior School, taken assemblies in the Secondary School and preached in a variety of local churches in Chegutu. I have many - and varied - memories of the impact that Ameva has had on my life. But all of those memories of different days have been totally eclipsed by what, for John, was just another day.
This took place during my most recent visit to John and Celia. I had already spent quite a section of my time helping out Celia in the Bible School library, rearranging shelves, digging out mud wasps from the racks and sorting books.
But on this day John had some visits to make and people to see in Chegutu and he thought it would be good if I joined him for the ride. The first part was just on the same level as that library work. I can hardly remember what we actually did do and there was plenty that was done that afternoon - until John mentioned that there was one more visit to be made on the way out to Ameva.
He introduced the mission by saying, “This should be interesting!” and proceeded to tell me about what we were going to do, and suddenly that library seemed to have gained an attraction way beyond its desserts!
Apparently a piece of farm machinery, a dicer, very like the one in the picture, had been ‘borrowed’ perhaps eighteen months previously by another farmer who had taken over Hippovale farm off Bay Horse Road and now it was needed at Ameva Farm - and we were going to claim it back!
More information came out as we headed out of the township. A while ago our tractor driver had been instructed to go and collect the dicer that had been borrowed, but it had not been collected. When John explained the reason, I thoroughly understood why it was still borrowed!
Another farm had also loaned a piece of equipment to this farm and when their tractor driver went to collect it - he was shot dead by the two Bad Boys of the family who had taken over the farm. By this time I was beginning to wonder if it really needed me to be on this trip to nowhere.
Meanwhile John was just chatting away, filling me in on details that I didn’t want to know and we turned off the road heading towards the farmhouse.
It was a long way. There were no other houses around, no cars, no people - we were on our own.
On we went, advertising to anyone interested that we were heading their way, the sound of our diesel engine and the cloud of dust were unmistakable!
It got worse! The farmhouse sat on the top of a rather large outcrop of rock, accessed by the narrow track that wound up steeply and had no fence to keep you from driving off the edge. As we came to the top we saw two lads working under the bonnet of a car that stood right in our way. John got out and approached the lads, while I was trying work out which way to run when needed.
As only John could do, he turned the whole situation round in a moment with just one question. “Why aren’t you two in school” These weren’t the bad boys, but nephews, and while they were tall and looked grown up to me, John had touched them in a way that had them on the defense from the outset.
They were trying to get the car started but had failed. After a quick look at the engine, John suggested a couple of steps to try and then said that we needed the dicer and he would send the tractor driver that afternoon. It did help that he had seen the machine parked up there, and it was safely collected that afternoon by our tractor driver.
Did it figure as a spectacular event for John? I very much doubt it. To him, most definitely, it was just another day!