Zell was born to a loving but strict family and suffered from polio at a very early age, leaving her partly crippled.  This doesn’t stop her from working hard at her family’s farm in the vast veldt in Africa, and gaining respect from all who know her….there is hardship for the family and her father has to move to the city to provide extra for his family.  

Zell meanwhile helps her mother to run the farm and look after her siblings.  There are lots of lessons in this story set in the parched land of Africa, including Zell standing up to an intruder who tried to burn their home.  Zell is an inspiration to her family and to her peers and eventually is rewarded with assistance from an unlikely source to enable her to get a good education.

This heart-warming story will fill you with hope and make you realise that even while there is a ‘wild’ side to Africa, there is also a side to make you proud – and that one person can make a difference.

In Store Price: $20.00 
Online Price:   $19.00

ISBN: 978-1-921731-02-0  Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 98
Genre:  Fiction
Cover: Maurice Gwilliam Thorne

Author: Hazel White
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2010
Language: English




Story by Hazel White (Deceased)

Edited by her son Edward Langley and niece Colleen White

Hazel was born in Marandellas, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1936. She was the middle child of Willem and Sarah White. Hazel was raised and loved her life next to the railway tracks, as her father worked for the Railways.  

She married in 1955 and six children followed. Her philosophy on life was there is no such word as "can’t".  

This meant repairing cars, washing machines, spray painting, sewing, cooking, writing, running a business etc., and raising her family were all done with out fuss and to the best of her ability.

She was always willing to help others and animals that needed her help.


 The Blue Jay that always accompanied Zell, usually on her shoulder, sat on a branch twisting it's head, looking first from one eye and then from the other.

Making doubly sure that the young girl in her early teens who stood ranting and raving, was truly the hero who had fostered him lovingly from the day she'd found him on the hard ground at the bottom of a hollowed tree trunk.

Zell, understanding why Shire’s feathers were ruffled, and shouted back at the noisy bird, “It's very well for you to sit there and shout your big mouth off. Your crop is full but I have to find something for these wretched animals to graze, or they will start dropping like flies.  Look for yourself Loud Mouth, already their skin has sunk so low between their bones that a vulture will need a magnifying glass to find a taste.”

 Disgusted with Zell’s performance, he let out several loud croaks of displeasure. The bird shook his brilliant plumage several times, trying to rid itself of the harsh tone, without success, flew above her head, croaked several more times flapping his wings loudly took himself into the blue yonder and  disappeared into the distance, leaving her to wallow in her misery.

“Coward,” the young girl shouted after the bird, “you should be a bright yellow, not a brilliant blue.”

Desperation overwhelmed Zell, causing her to lose patience with the cattle that would or could not walk.  She gave the cow nearest her, a vicious prod with her crutch and immediately her face contorted with regret as the crutch struck bone on the animal’s rump. Where to? As far as the eye could see, the position was no different to the area around her; the cattle had already grazed anything that was edible within sight. There was nothing but dust and intense heat. Maybe, oh God let it be, that the thorn trees on the kopje[1] across the river some five miles away have sprouted new shoots. With this new found hope, Zell urged the scraggy cattle onwards, waiting just long enough for them to drink from the cool water that trickled around the huge boulders in the river bed, before driving them on. Her stance more subdued, Zell encouraged rather than threatened the cattle that were drawing on their last reserve, to keep them going. She pressed on regardless of the elements that threatened to blister her bare feet and fry the marrow from her cattle’s protruding back bones.

 The persistent ache in her lame leg, the result of polio, worsened as the terrain became rocky and rose steeply. This caused her to lean heavily on her crutch for support. Nearing exhaustion, Zell arrived at the thorn trees and lowered herself under the first one she came to, unconcerned as to whether the cattle had found food or not.  Breathing heavily for several long moments she sat with her back resting against the rough bark, unable to open her eyes and face another disappointment.

“Thank you God,” she exclaimed when she saw that the swollen buds had burst open exposing a cluster of new fine leaves laying behind long needle sharp thorns. The continued absence of Shire disturbed her more that she cared to admit. She missed the lively chatter that kept her occupied the most part of each day. Other arguments hadn't lasted this long, she thought.

She raised her eyes to scan the tree tops, remembered the spitting cobra and instinctively shielded her eyes to avoid the venom that would damage her eyes permanently. It was bad enough being a cripple, to be a blind cripple would be a living hell. The blind boy in the village not far from where they lived had made the same mistake when he found a hawk’s nest.  The villagers had to tie his hands behind his back to prevent him tearing his eyes out of his head. When the pain subsided his vision left with it. Other incidents returned to taunt her, especially the experience her father had related so realistically around the wood fire one evening, making the hairs come alive on the back of her neck, as it was doing now, only worse, because the setting around her was perfect for an attack from a Python. What chance did she have when her father, who was known for his strength, had struggled for hours to unwind the cold slippery reptile from around himself, to prevent it crushing his ribs into his lungs? Even with multiple stab wounds the python had continued to constrict its powerful body with very little effort and had almost won the fight.  Sitting alert, every nerve taut, Zell examined every suspicious tree, vine or branch for any sign of movement before she relaxed her guard. 

 When the afternoon shadows lengthened and the cattle remained feeding on the nourishing new growth, she left them to decide when they should start the long trek[2] home. Her thoughts were never far from her elderly mother and the hardships she had to endure. Collecting wood for cooking, fetching water from the river in heavy clay containers balanced on her head several times a day, not only for the house but also for the vegetable garden, which she insisted, was a necessity. Zell decided to surprise her mother and collect some of the wood that lay scattered around her.

She wielded the dangerous temo[3] and in no time at all a pile lay cut, and tied with long strips of bark torn from one of the younger more pliable saplings. Somehow she was going to persuade Mukaka the milking cow to carry the wood home. She saw her coming out of the dense undergrowth, obviously remembering the calf that needed to be fed at home.

“Come Mukaka,” she urged, not knowing if she was doing the right thing in trying to make her carry wood when she could scarcely carry herself. “I have walked far to bring you here today.  You owe it to me to carry the wood home.”

She placed the rope around her neck and led her back to the pile, glad that she didn't object when she lifted the bundle onto her back and secured it with more rope around her belly. Several times she checked to see if the pile was slipping, it would be a disaster if Mukaka were to get a fright and run stampeding through the bush with a bundle of wood dangling under her belly.  Besides she would be the laughing stock of the community if it were known that she was using a milking cow as a donkey. Quietly she spoke to her, it didn't matter that the gently voice was insulting her by informing her that she did look like a donkey - but only a little bit, as she chased the flies from her ears. Mukaka followed the other cattle right up to the enclosure and refused to take one more step. Zell pushed, and pulled but the cow stood firm, as she had no intentions of taking the wood to the huts. So near and yet so far, Zell thought. She may as well have left the firewood at the kopje for all the good it did her where it was.

“You do look like a donkey and what is worse you act like one as well.”  

Angrily she untied the wood from Mukaka’s back, and watched her stroll off nonchalantly to where the other cattle stood chewing their cud. How easy it would be if she could lift the bundle onto her shoulders as she had always done, but she couldn't and she knew it. A smile crossed her face as she found the solution. She picked up the piece of bark tied it to the wood and started hauling it to the huts.


[1] Small Hill

[2] walk

[3] two sided weapon, chopper one side, tapering dagger other side. Metal embedded in Karee boom wood


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