Picnic in the Matopo Hills Zimbabwe Bird

Aspects of Celia's life in Rhodesia in her own words

'What I remember are the bad parts, crossing the line, going over the equator; on most ocean liners they do a ceremony where Neptune arrives. I can remember hiding, absolutely terrified, in the cabin. ... When we arrived in Cape Town we had to get a train to Bulawayo ... on the boat you stop off at different places and in Madeira my mother bought me a doll, which was almost my height ... 2 to 3 foot high. Waiting on the quay somewhere in Cape Town I had my photo taken with this doll [amusing] a little baby, a young girl who was also going up to Rhodesia. ' She describes the almost rural childhood she experienced in the suburb of Queens Park West with nostalgia, and the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle that existed for the white community at that time, relatively free from social class snobbery and crime.

Did you miss Rhodesia?

'Oh terribly. Oh yes, oh, I pined everyday almost, from then to now. That's why when I went back in 1993, it was fantastic. I just got this feeling - although I was born here, I don't feel this is home - I felt that was home, because that's really all I knew as a child, I grew up out there, I don't remember too much about England before I went out, and I can remember so much out there.'

Click on the Play button below to listen to Celia Rowell talking about her homesickness for Southern Rhodesia.

She was educated at Newmansford Junior and St Peter's Senior schools. Leisure activities included singing in St. Margaret's Church choir, and Guiding. She enjoyed a camping trip to the Zimbabwe Ruins, when the Guides were taken on an educational visit to an asbestos mine!

Celia describes preparations for a trip to the Victoria Falls with her parents in the rainy season when aged 7 or 8. '... and of course the mosquitoes were flying well, so we had to have quinine, and you have to take a dose of it before you go ... and quinine in those days was the little yellow tablet, exceedingly bitter, and to get me to take this quinine they used to try all sorts of things because I couldn't just swallow it down because the taste was vile. ... so they used to mix it up in rice pudding .... or dissolve it in drinks ... they would find bowls of mouldy rice pudding under the settee that I'd flung under there ... and then when we were about to go, the floods came and we couldn't go.' They eventually went in the dry season when the bridges weren't covered.

Celia talks about the car trip down to Cape Town in their Fiat 500, that she and her mother (+ 2 guinea pigs, 2 white rats, and 2 tortoises) made, before boarding the ship to return to Britain. 'Somebody was going to drive us down and then he had to back out at the last minute, or a couple of months before ... so my mother said 'we have no alternative you're going to have to go for your license', but of course I wasn't old enough, so we forged my birth date! My mother told a lie, the first one I have ever known her do in her life - God, she said a few prayers that day, I bet. ... I mean, I'd been driving since I was 11. ... she didn't tell anybody we were doing it, she never told my father we were going to do it, but he guessed." She passed the test and "... we wanted to bring that car home with us, so I had to drive it down. I loved it.' The 1800 mile journey took them about a week, and they collected Mobil stickers from petrol stations on the way down. She's still got them all somewhere.

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Celia in 1951, soon after arrival in Rhodesia

Celia with rabbits

Celia in school hat with 2 white rabbits

Chorister Certificate

Celia's church choir certificate

Celia and Simba

Celia and Simba in the garden in Queens Park West