Page 3. " I think I first realised something was wrong when our next-door neighbour, oom Piet Oberholzer, was murdered "
Ambush site
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumAmbush site - Credit: Darell Plowes

This is where the ambush took place.

Page 5. " In those days we still had the old white Austin Westminster "

White Austin Westminster
Creative Commons AttributionWhite Austin Westminster - Credit: Redsimon
The Westminster series were large saloon and estates cars sold by the British Austin Motor Company from 1954. This photo shows the A105 version.

Page 6. " invited us to drop in for sundowners "


Creative Commons AttributionSundowner - Credit: Jenny Downing

The best part of the day for many African ex-pats is watching the sun go down while sitting on a terrace with a great view and enjoying a long cool drink.

Favourite sundowners are: gin & tonic with lots of ice; ice-cold Tusker lager; or a dawa (Swahili for medicine), a cocktail of squeezed lime, vodka, honey and... lots of ice.

Page 12. " What's all this chimurenga business, sergeant? "
Ndebele Pursuit, 1896
Public DomainNdebele Pursuit, 1896 - Credit: Frank Dadd

The original Chimurenga (Shona for "revolutionary struggle) of 1896 started as an Ndebele (Matabele) rebellion against the British pioneers who had trekked up from South Africa and established the town of Bulawayo.  The Ndebele were soon joined by the Shona, occupying colonial fortifications and massacring settlers.  They laid siege to Bulawayo, although it was never taken.

The main Chimurenga, known to British historians as the Second Matabele War, ended more than a year later when the Ndebele spiritual leader Mlimo was assassinated.  War continued in Mashonaland for another year.

Matabele Warrior
Public DomainMatabele Warrior - Credit: Robert Baden-Powell

 The Matabele Campaign 1896 by Colonel Robert Baden-Powell (full book online)

Page 13. " They were Dakotas. Sometimes they’re called DC3s. "

The DC-3 is a propeller-driven transport plane, built by the American Douglas Aircraft Company.  The first flight took place on 17 December 1935.  The aircraft's speed and range made it popular with airlines all over the world.

Dakota DC3
Creative Commons AttributionDakota DC3 - Credit: RuthAs


Page 14. " Willie, the leader of the Crocodile Gang, had been trained in Moscow, the police said "

On 4 July 1964 Willie Ndangana set up a roadblock and, with Victor Mlambo, James Dhlamini and Master Tresha, killed Petros Oberholtzer (Oom Piet) in the Chimanimani farming area of eastern Zimbabwe. Ndananga and his men came to be known as the ‘Crocodile Gang’.

Willie Ndangana was actually trained in Beijing, China.

When Peter Godwin returned to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, William Ndangana was Deputy Minister of Paramilitary Affairs. He was, however, 'mistakenly killed' in 1989 when an army truck collided with his car. According to rumour, an attempt was made to assassinate Edgar Tekere (the former head of ZANU, and rival to Mugabe) who had defected from ZANU-PF to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). On that fatal day, Tekere was supposed to travel from Harare to Mutare, but he decided to postpone his journey until the evening. Ndangana travelled that afternoon; the soldiers waiting for Tekere saw a Mercedes Benz coming and concluded it was their target.

Extract from A Lifetime of Struggle by Edgar Tekere, covering the Oberholtzer murder.

Page 19. " The judge, a white man who was wearing a grey powdered wig and a red robe, looked confused. "

The South African film A Reasonable Man demonstrates the gulf between how local Africans and western judges view the world, order and justice. Nigel Hawthorne, at his prickly best, is the judge in this superb courtroom drama, based on the famous trial of a herdsman accused of killing a one-year-old child he believed to be an evil spirit.

Page 24. " One day Violet became an Apostolic, which was what they called members of the Apostolic Church of Africa. "

This may refer to two possible churches:

The African Apostolic Church of John Maranke was founded by John Maranke (1913-1963), a former Methodist from the Umtali area (where Godwin lived). In July 1932 he was called in a vision to be Christ's apostle. He spent the next thirty years travelling on foot around Southern Africa, converting and baptising thousands of people.  By 1996, the movement had exceeded one million followers.

The African Apostolic Church was founded by Paul Mwazha a little further to the west - but not until 1957, so the timing may be a bit tight.  However, an important clue is Godwin's description of the men shaving their heads and growing long beards - the look Mr Mwazha and his followers sport in this video:


There are more than 10,000 African Initiated Churches in South Africa alone, so it is unsurprising that two indigenous Zimbabwean churches share this name.