Steven "Abo" Abramowitz
Steven “Abo” Abramowitz grew up in Zimbabwe and from 2012-2017 wrote an extensive BLOG with his unique, tongue-in-cheek, brash and different style of writing based mainly on his youth in that country. He describes the BLOG as “Rhodesia, the way it was, the way we spoke, the way we lived”.
He has also been interviewed by ZJC about his life which can be viewed below. In the introduction of his BLOG he writes :
“Of course you never really was a when-we; anyone who grew up in Rhodesia always is a when-we. I am, and proud of it. Live in New Zealand now, very happily, with a beautiful wife, five chickens and a psychotic cat, but I miss Africa every day, and write about it a bit.
When I was growing up there, Four Ridgelee Way, Avondale, Salisbury, Rhodesia was the centre of my universe. Thirty-five years later, there are some days when it still feels like it is. If you’d like to know more about why I write this stuff, or how I feel about writing it, then the first post, Mangwanani, kind of covers that off.” (see below)
To read his full BLOG – click here.
Many of his BLOG items were posted on the ZJC facebook group and received many accolades. Below are two examples:
(Editor: this material from Abo is published on the ZJC website to provide readers with a very different and creative view of life in that country. It is not everyone’s “cup of tea” from what Abo calls “that tea-pot” shaped country. His blog ranges from the hilarious to the somber – always with very edgy and gritty language but hopefully it resonates with readers of this website. When he refers to “the way we lived” – it refers, of course, to his family within a tiny Jewish community within a small White community within the wider nation of Rhodesia, later to become Zimbabwe. We thank him sincerely for sharing this material with the ZJC).
This series of video clips was recorded over Skype in 2015 and provide insight into Steven’s life and his thoughts about growing up in Rhodesia. You can read further insights on him here.
December 7, 2016
There are several indisputable facts that any whenwe knows about our beloved little teapot-shaped red soiled piece of Africa. For example:
- The mightiest river on the continent is the Makabuzi, found to hell and gone past the Tobacco sheds out Waterfalls way;
- That Rhodesians invented smart-casual when they introduced the safari suit to the world;
- That the Rhodesian Air Force had the best pilots in the world, even if they had Zings on the aerials of their sky chorries.
Ag look man, I could go on and on hey? Rhodesia set such high standards in so many things, from biltong to orange juice and back again, with Tanganda Tips in the middle and a T-Bone at Guido’s after a bowl of clear soup right up there at the very top. Even the chops who lived gwara-free at The Trelawney and spent their days fixing motorbikes in the bathtub and their nights seeing how many spook and diesels they could puza before falling into a coma know all this and more to be true.
But here’s a fact many of you might not know: the 1970’s Great Rhodesian Bogroll Shortage was single-handedly caused by my old man, strue’sbob, cross my heart and hope to die, and here is exactly how this came to happen:- (well ekshly not exactly-exactly because at the time I had just discovered dagga and the Watt girls next door were burgeoning into beautiful young women so I was more than a bit distracted, but still, hey.)
Uncle Ian and his boyfriend PK van der Byl had driven Harold Wilson & friends kapenzi by declaring UDI, so the whole world decided to stop selling Rhodesia everything. This soon meant that when you wiped your bum it was with a sort of sandpaper that made your nought climb back inside you from fear. Chapped lips had a whole new meaning; the whole of Rhodesia (well, mukiwas anyway) started walking like John Wayne. This was especially inconvenient if you had eaten the peri-peri chicken at Guido’s for Sunday lunch. My old man – who as you know by now was a mild and gentle man – refused to suffer such indignities. He phoned everyone he knew and bought up their fancy goods permits. I have no idea what fancy goods means at all, especially in Rhodesia, where wearing socks was thought of fancy, but I do know that the term included bogroll.
Within weeks every cupboard at 4 Ridgelee Way Avondale Salisbury Rhodesia was crammed with soft 2-ply luxury toilet rolls from Down South. It was everywhere. Now, like all good sanctions busters, my old man always had proper scotch in the house and June had a seemingly unending supply of Chocolate Logs and peppermint Crisps, but this bogroll episode was a whole new thing; I had shamwaris pulling in just to have a kak.
But Les, who was patient and clever as well as gentle and mild, waited for a bit longer, keeping the noughts of Rhodesia in discomfort and then one day all the bogroll was gone and there was a new Mercedes-Benz in the driveway.
For the full blog – click here
September 19, 2012
Let’s get one thing straight. This is not a fuck I wish it was still Rhodesia blog. I don’t think white rule was a good thing. I don’t think Ian Smith was a demi-god. In fact, I used to get threatened at school for pulling down the corner of one eye with a finger and making ‘my fellow Rhodesians’ speeches at the back of the class. Who threatened me? Oh I don’t know, all the dickheads who thought taking the piss out of the prime minister was treason, or espionage, or maybe even meant I was a communist. Those guys. Fuck man, my best mate JV got accused of being a communist because he read from The Drifters at a house assembly. I was a dagga rooker, I cheated in exams, and I bunked school all the time, but I was never a communist. Anyway, it’s not one of those blogs. There are enough of those, with the old flag and political diatribe. There is no smell of the vellie here. But there will be the smoke of the braai.
Also, this is not one of those blogs that fondly remember their old school, which in my case was Prince Edward School. If you think that was the best time of your life, and you still do the PE handshake, and think Dog was the new messiah (I think he was a cunt), then once again shamwari, wrong place for wena, lo blog kamina. I made friends for life there, and had a good time when I bothered to turn up, but it was just a school. So this is about my stories about growing up in what was first Southern Rhodesia, then Rhodesia, then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and is now just Zimbabwe, and only just at that. Yeah, yeah I know. I’m no fan of Bob’s either. But so long as we understand that this is my blog, about my life there, based on my from time-to-time selective memories, we should all get along just fine.
No army stories here either china. Never did the army. Oh I got invited, like everybody else vaguely male and over the age of sixteen, but never went. Camouflage just wasn’t my thing. Gapped it, took the chicken run, shmucked out, call it what you want. So if you’re looking to share war stories, got none. Got mates who have plenty of those stories, but you’ll have to ask them. One thing I’ve learned is that the dudes who talk about all the stuff they did in the war, in the hondo or in any war, didn’t do all that much. The guys who did the big shit don’t like talking about it at all. Again, maningi places on the interweb for you to find all that sort of carry on. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if you did fight in the war, I don’t even mind what side you fought on, as long as you don’t mind that I didn’t. I have led far too dissolute a life to make value judgements. Not that it stops me from making them for one minute.
Also, if you stick around long-enough you’ll discover that some these tales have a distinctly Jewish slant. Yip, I grew up Jewish. So all you raving anti-Semites? Please man, go elsewhere, and swiftly. I don’t practice any faith anymore, haven’t for years, and intolerance along racial or religious lines, unless it’s me being intolerant, bores five shades of fuck out of me. Devout anything, unless it’s alcohol intake we’re talking about, is not welcome. I don’t care who your lord is – I am not interested. Go fucking knock on someone else’s door.
Some of the stories that may appear here are things I have put up on other places where people write about being Rhodesian. I am lazy and also a bit of a hippy, so I see nothing wrong with recycling the odd story or two. And in my humble opinion, of which I have never had one in my life, they make good reading second time around anyway. Also I have used real names. So if I say somewhere along the line that I got a boner or gabbed a titty, lusted or longed for someone, sorry for that. In fact apologies up front to Judy Stiel, Debbie Lobel, Amanda Hammar, Tessa Gelfand and Debbie Yates. Possibly also Theresa Biddulph, and most definitely the Watt girls Carol-Anne and Susan-Jane, the two most tempting neighbours any adolescent Rhodesian boy ever had. I have purposefully left out Lesley Goldwasser because her brother was overly protective. All of those, and most of the others, completely unrequited let me add, in case any of them went to law school.
All I can tell you is that when I was a When-we, it was the best thing in the whole world to be, a glorious window in time and space that I was lucky enough to be part of. I am very glad I was a Rhodesian. And I am very glad that I always will be a When-we.
For the full blog – click here