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Msasa Memories

Updated on January 11, 2017

When I was a little girl, we lived in a small and remote farming area in the south east of Rhodesia, in a valley called Middle Sabi. It was a bit before the bush war had gained any real momentum, so it hadn't yet become dangerous for civilians, and it was idyllic... wild, and free, and beautiful.

An enduring memory I have of Middle Sabi, is when my grandmother came to stay. She lived in England , so we didn't get to see her very often, and my sisters and I adored her. She loved to paint, and had packed and brought all her painting paraphernalia with her, and she painted in oils, so that was a lot of paraphernalia!

There was a narrow dirt road, lined with tangerine trees, that led down to the main dwelling of the rambling, un-fenced property that was home; and as you turned in to it, off another dirt road, there grew a big Msasa tree on the corner. It must have been late spring, because the Msasa tree was in mid "change", when, as the days grow warmer, the new leaves turn from a bright green, to deep tones of red and orange.

My grandmother thought it was beautiful, and wanted to paint it. And I wanted to paint it too.

So, nearly every day while she stayed, after breakfast, we would walk up the little dirt road together, laden with all our painting gear, and set ourselves up at the top of it. My grandmother sitting on a folding chair, in front of her proper easel, with all her oil paints; and me sitting right next to her, on a stool, in front of my little black-board easel, with my pre-mixed powder paints... and we painted that Msasa tree together.

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