By Paul Michael Cohen

6th June 2024

My grandfather Israel (Ike) built the Balfour hotel in Rusape (see image on left) in 1929 and ran it until his passing in 1953 at the age of 78. The hotel was a well-known stopover between Salisbury (now Harare) and both Umtali (now Mutare) and the Eastern Highlands (Inyanga, Chimanimani etc). The name Balfour was derived from the famous British declaration by Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in 1917 declaring Britain’s intention to support the establishment of a Jewish State in the area of British Mandated Palestine. 

My late father, David (picture on left) then continued to run it until the late sixties when he leased it out to the Gold family. Dad passed away in 1974 at the early age of 46 and I then sold the hotel onto the Gold family in 1980. Unfortunately today , the hotel no longer exists as the property was bought by Bhola wholesalers who have turned it into a hardware store. Grandfather Ike, came out to Africa in the early twenties from Lviv in Ukraine, married and his son, David was born in 1927 followed later by his daughter Syl. Ike Cohen became a very well known figure in Rusape having established a large property portfolio in the town.

I attended Prince Edward School as a border 1962-3 and then left for Cape Town. My younger brother Irvin attended Mount Pleasant High School from 1969.

My mother Lallie (Lalage) Cohen passed away very peacefully at home in Harare in the 29th June 2020. Lallie spent the previous 20 years in Australia and expressed a desire to be laid to rest adjacent to her late husband (David Cohen)in Warren Hills Cemetery.  I fulfilled her wish by returning with her to Harare in June 2019.

The picture on the left is Mom on her 96th birthday, in April 2020. My brother is Irvin Cohen. Lallie’s four grandchildren, Rachel, David, Aleck, and Tara and 2 Great Grandchildren, Bethany and Sophie.

For more information about the Balfour Declaration –