(from original interview by
Aliza Hatchuel and edited by her son Stan)
- Born in Bulawayo 1908. Her father arrived alone in
1899 from Kovna Oeborna. He left a family behind with a six month old baby,
Louis. He couldn't make a living in the village in Lithuania as a tailor and
looked for greener pastures* Heard from friends about Rhodesia and emigrated.
He arrived in East London and was taken off boat in basket, as boat couldn't
get close enough to land. Eventually made his way to Bulawayo on the 1st train
that came up after the relief of Mafeking (the Boer War).
Name was now Banet. He looked for
work, unsuccessfully, even cycled to Gwanda (90 miles) through the bush and
eventually back to Bulawayo where he opened a tailor shop (probably financed
by a landsman).
was six years before he was able to send for his wife and child, She was held
up in London because of King Edwards coronation and lived in an immigrants
shelter there. Finally she came by boat to CapeTown with Louis.
Nine months later her 2nd child Harry was born. She couldn't speak a
word of English and felt quite lost in the new wild country. Conditions
however improved and she had three more children, Hilda, then Frieda, then
Rhodes was buried in Bulawayo, Jacob Banet was member of the civil defense,
which formed a line of honour.
Banet, the eldest son, volunteered for the war in 1914 and was sent to German
East Africa and was in Murray's column. His name is in the English Cathedral
in Salisbury on a honours board.
played an important part in the Jewish and Gentile community of
Salisbury 1926/7 until his death. He was President of Shul and Jewish Guild,
the Zionist society and British Empire service league (they gave him a formal
burial at which they played last
had two sons. Louis was one of
the first Jewish boys to go to St. Georges College in Bulawayo - together with
Phil Rabinson, Herman Krikler, Paddy Landau (all fought
in German East Africa and all
were members of Kings
Banet, 2nd brother served in Madagascar in 2nd world war. Didn't play much
part in communal life. Hilda , the eldest daughter
- married Edward Heller whose father was an ostrich farmer in Outshoorn.
Her daughter, Zelda now is in Australia.
went to Evelyn School, had a scripture lesson once a week and mixed with
Jewish children only. She tells how as a 4 year old she went on picnic with a
few families to Essexvale , about 20 miles from Bulawayo on an ox wagon.
There was a very good Jewish social life in Bulawayo, centred in the Jewish
Guild, an old wooden iron building - opposite synagogue . There they had
lectures, and learned about Zionism (Chavevey Zion).
Frieda went to
Cheder – her teacher was a Miss
Budlander, later to be Mrs. Arcadie Kaplan. who became a town councilor in
Bulawayo and was a keen Zionist.
was the Chazan at this time. Frieda at age 16, 17, 18 was a member of
Shul choir for years and was a regular shul goer, as were many others. When
she finished High School she came to Salisbury to her brother Louis to learn
secreterial work. After three
months. she went back to Bulawayo and worked for Henry Lazarus - a lawyer.
She then went to work for Web and
Low and eventually "became head typist there. They were one of the oldest
law firms in Bulawayo. (they were
already second generation of lawyers in that firm).
tells of her first taste of multi racialism.
The Firm were the
lawyers of African Methodist Church whose main office was in London. As
junior girl in the firm she had to serve the tea. One
day a black Methodist minister came to consult Colonel Webb. Frieda
brought only one cup of tea !. Webb
a true gentleman, had to ask her to bring another.
Living conditions in
those early days were wood and iron houses. Toilet
in back yard –( piccanin kaya - a seat and bucket underneath).
There was a water-well in garden,from which
water was drawn and brought in. Water was heated on wood stove in kitchen-sink. A Wagon
loads of wood cost five 50 shillings. They slept under mosquito
nets. She remembered the good bread. (Henry Lazarus father was a baker)
which was delivered on horse and cart; Milk
was bought in gallon cans and
had to be boiled. Drinking water was also boiled. Paraffin lamps and
candles were for lighting. By the time Frieda was 10 there was electricity
and tap water.
Pessach time milk was obtained from Jewish farmer called Beemer They
made their own "bread and babca for Yomtov
that time Rev. Cohen was the minister - highly educated and an ardent Zionist
who came from England.
Weiner ,a kindly soul provided
all Pessach needs. Used to go from
home to home on cycle with a little black book in his shirt pocket taking
orders. He also made the Kosher wine for Pessach. Fowl was killed at his home
or synagogue. His daughter Annie Favish became an ardent communal worker in
came from Port Elizabeth. He stopped in Bulawayo to be with his elder brother
Ben and sister - Ethel Harris,who was married to Cessy Harris .He became
became a mayor of Bulawayo. Cessy's parents were almost pioneer.They were the
founders of the Rhodesian Milling Co
worked as commercial traveler. He met Frieda at a 21st birthday
party for him at Ethel's house.. They had a long courtship as they couldn't
afford to wed. He traveled as far as up to Northern Rhodesia – The salesmen
traveled in the goods van of the train so that they could look after their
samples which were packed in large wicker "baskets "Skips".
Train used to arrive at various forlorn stations at all hours of the night
where even the station master was not present. They used skips to barricade
them-selves and slept under the Skips as protection. In each of these stations
there was always a tiny hotel and a couple of store keepers. Who bought their
then joined Frieda's brother Harry in agency business in Bulawayo. But then
came to Salisbury to join Louis Banet in the furniture firm - P, Lazarus and
Co. This was later to become Banet & Harris.
When war broke out -
Lionel was called up but never left country. German Jewish refugees started
arriving in Salisbury as well. The community helped in absorbing them. War did
not affect them except those who had to serve overseas and life continued as
usual. When there was a Jewish fatality, everyone felt it. All helped in Women
Voluntary Services - mainly in canteen.
was a member of Jewish Guild committee -
It was the focal social point of the Jews. Association with non-Jews was only
through business and sport. Lionel joined the Shul committee , later to be
president of Shul and Frieda represented the Jewish community on Loyal
Womens Guild which was a busy benevolent society and served for some years as
1963/4? The upheaval in
the Belgium Congo caused a major influx of Jews from there. The whole city
went into gear to accept the refugee. Loyal Womens
Guild was responsible for clothings .WIZO was an important community
organization and she served at some stage as Chairlady.
, whose arrival in Rhodesia she wrote about,
served the community for over 60 years. He was an honoury life
President of the Shul, and active in every sphere of the community, both
Jewish and secular almost to the end.
Always sport minded. He
played provincial Cricket and tennis and in the early years he involved the
young Jewish boys in the Boxing Club. From
the “Belvedere Tennis Club”( about
1947),that used to have annual tournaments with their Bulawayo counterparts,
to being a founding member of the Wingate Country Club..
His business Banet & Harris was a household name in the furniture
In 1993 Frieda died in
Harare. Later in 1999 he left Zimbabwe
and with his son Stanley and his wife and for two years lived in CapeTown
where he died in 2000 aged 93. He
was buried next to Frieda in Harare.