CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe
PATRICK Moore, 63, was born in Bristol, in the southwest of England but his family came to the then Broken Hill town, now renamed Kabwe, in 1955, when he was almost two years old.
It is in Broken Hill that Moore spent his early childhood.
Broken Hill town came to the world’s attention in 1904 when lead and zinc deposits were discovered in Mutwe Wa Nsofu area during a mining excavation.
In the same area, a skull of Homo heidelbergensis, later named Broken Hill man, was discovered on June 17, 1921.
This is the place that Moore’s father, William John Moore, trekked to. He worked in the railways after working for the Royal Air Force in Britain.
Back in the 1950s, the Moores lived on number 10 Beit Street, in what today, is probably Highridge, not far from the railway workshop where his father worked.
He remembers regularly passing in front of Elephants Heads Hotel with his mother Marta and siblings Brian and Gill while going shopping at Meikles Stores. Brian, now aged 73, lives in Ireland while Mary, who is 65 years, is in Somerset West, South Africa.
In Broken Hill, he attended school at Broken Hill Primary School. He remembers wearing a khaki and black school uniform.
For recreation, his family used to go to a swimming pool and cinema hall near what is now Kabwe Mine Hospital.
Moore also remembers the Big Tree, now a national monument and Elephants Heads Hotel, which is now called Tuskers Hotel.
For years now, Moore struggled with himself to reconnect with the land of his childhood – Kabwe.
When his company Exceptional Financial Services CC was on a business break in August, Moore an independent broker, felt it was the right time for him to undertake the long awaited epic journey.
He covered a distance of about 4,000 kilometres by road with his modified Yamaha XT 660R motorbike, riding from Western Transvaal in South Africa all the way to Kabwe, and back.
“For the last five to six years, I have been thinking [about travelling to Kabwe], and when I had an opportunity, because business was very quiet, I said, ‘if I don’t go now, I may never go’,” Moore said.
It was a nostalgic experience.
“I found that the tree [Big Tree] is still here and is much bigger than it was years ago. I have [also] seen the old railway workshop,” Moore said.
“I have seen a locomotive at the headquarters (Zambia Railways). There is also Tuskers Hotel which was Elephants Heads Hotel.”
Moore recalls that when he was about five years old, in 1958, his family was among those that attended a display by the air force at an airstrip.
“The other thing that happened, the British sent a Vulcan… It flew below and a lot of people were frightened. It was a display of strength by the British,” he says.
When his parents decided to leave Northern Rhodesia in 1959, they headed for Southern Rhodesia. They settled in Mutare, on the eastern side of the border with Mozambique.
Around 1975, he left Zimbabwe for South Africa for studies where he later settled with his wife Moira with whom he has three children, Robert, Michael and Marianne.
As biking is not his wife’s passion, she could not accompany him on the expedition to Kabwe.
On his tour of Kabwe, Moore also met Kabwe town clerk Ronald Daka who shared with him the potential that the former Broken Hill town offers in different sectors.
Moore also made a stopover at St Margarete’s, an old Anglican Church, where he met Conan Pascle Chawelwa and members of his church.
He did not, however, locate house number 10 Beit Street. He was guided to B Avenue but none of the houses resembled his house.
Well, an adventurer should be prepared for anything.
While in Francistown in Botswana en route to Zambia, he had a tyre puncture.
As an adventurous biker, he likes riding his motorbike at around 110 kilometres per hour. But once in Zambia, his speed was around 80 kilometres per hour.
He may not have located his former house but he was still satisfied with his mission.
“I am pleased with what I have found here. I am pleased with Zambians, with what the country has achieved for the last 50 years,” Moore said.
“When you know you are getting old, you realise there are things you need to do… I’ve come here [Kabwe] to see if there is anything that I can remember of, if there are traces of the house where we used to live or the place [railways workshop] where my father used to work.
“The steam locomotive was a big black beast and it made noise, these were amazing things.”
In Northern Rhodesia, it was discovered that broilers of locomotives were scaling up. This problem affected operations of the steam locomotives.
His father who loved working on engines was tasked with investigating the problem and he took samples of the water that was pumped into locomotives.
“He never told me about what was happening, but after years, when I went to South Africa, I met a man who explained what the problem was with the locomotives,” he said.
Chitima House, the headquarters of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), was the first place Moore visited once he was in Kabwe. He met Caristo Chitamfya, the Zambia Railways corporate affairs officer, and shared with him the reasons why he was in Kabwe.
Moore and his family left Broken Hill, which was renamed Kabwe in 1966, on November 5, 1959, when he was six.
“I left part of myself in Broken Hill because I left my appendix. I can say I left something of myself in Kabwe,” he said.