Taub Family

by Leslie Taub

September 2005

Philipp Taub was born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1898, but the family was actually from Libau (Liepaja) in Latvia.His mother Mary died at an early age, and his father Isaac lived in Libau until his death in 1940. Philipp had 4 sisters. He came alone to Africa as a young man, with no immediate family there, but in Bulawayo, Paul Sale was a distant relative of his mother. The harsh immigration laws in effect at that time precluded him from living in South Africa or Rhodesia, and so he made his way to the Belgium Congo.

There, in Elizabethville, he met Monsour Attala. After the Great Depression, they secured the rights to General Motors distribution throughout Central Africa. In 1935 Phil moved toSalisbury to open the GM business, and in 1936 Modern Motors opened in Bulawayo.

The Attala Group invested in many industrial and commercial ventures throughout the Congo, Northern and Southern Rhodesia. At one time or another, they had interests in steel furniture, wholesale pharmaceuticals, textiles, cinemas, and clothing, but Modern Motors remained the core to the conglomerate.

In 1957, Sir Roy Welensky (the Federal Prime Minister) officially opened the new premises of Modern Motors on Jameson and 11th Ave. in Bulawayo. At that time General Motors wrote in their corporate magazine in Detroit that this was the most sophisticated and fully integrated dealership garage worldwide, and showed pictures of it.

Phil Taub was Chairman and Managing Director of all the Attala interests in Southern Rhodesia. At one time he was Chairman of the Rhodesia Motor Traders’ Association. 

In 1936 Phil met Anne Bloem Busansky who worked as a clerk in the Deeds Office in Cape Town. The eldest daughter of Lithuanian immigrants who settled in Cape Town, Anne’s mother Fanny was a Teperson and sister to well known hoteliers from Somerset West. Her father, Raphael, was a tailor in Mill Street.

Phil and Anne were married at the Gardens Shul in Cape Town by Rev. Kibel (who later served the community for many years in Bulawayo) in 1936, and came to live in Bulawayo for the rest of their lives. Phil was distantly related to the families of Paul Sale (and his sisters, Hannah Mathison and Esther Reiff) … all of whom lived in Bulawayo.

In a blossoming community, Phil and Anne both involved themselves in Jewish affairs. Phil was a co-founder of the Weizmann Country Club and served as Chairman and President. He was President of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation in 1959/60. He was Chairman of the Bulawayo I.U.A. Committee in 1952 when the campaign was launched by Dr. Nahum Goldman, the then President of the World Zionist Organization.In 1964 Phil suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and without speech. He died 10 months later, and is buried in the Bulawayo cemetery. 

Their first home was at 63 Pauling Road. In 1952 (the year of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition) they built their new home at 30 Livingstone Road, at a cost of £32,000. 

Anne was a founding member, many times Chairlady and later Honorary Life Member of the Union of Jewish Women, a body that she served all of her years in Bulawayo. In later years she devoted her time and energy to Savyon Lodge, and was a resident of that unbelievable home when she died in 2003 at age 95. With a keen sense of communal duty, Ann supported the local Agricultural Shows that later became the annual Trade Fair, the S.P.C.A., the Bulawayo Theatre, the Bulawayo Art Gallery and other institutions.

Phil & Anne with Children, Port Elizabeth 1948 The family vacationed annually in Port Elizabeth, and became an institution at the Marine Hotel. Sometimes, during the holiday, Anne would take the children to Cape Town to visit her parents who lived in the Gardens.

Phil had two sisters living in the Belgium Congo, and would visit often to combine with business interests there. After Independence in the Congo in 1960, those trips stopped.

Phil & Anne traveled extensively in Southern Africa, for both business and pleasure. They first went overseas in the early 50’s, again in 1958 to Europe and the USA (where Phil had a sister living in New York), and a few times more in the 60’s. They enjoyed going by boat, often up the East Coast through Suez to Italy. One time they sailed on a merchant ship from New York to Cape Town.

Phil and Anne had three children and were proud that all of them were educated in Bulawayo before graduating from the University of Cape Town. Mervyn lives in New Hampshire, USA. Yvonne Jawitz lives in Johannesburg. Leslie lives in California.

To read the full family biography – please click here