Desmond Bishop spoke to the Pattaya City Expats Club meeting on Sunday, June 25. His topic was “Around the World in 60 Years,” but as he started his presentation, he showed on a map of the world the most Northern, Southern, Western, and Eastern points of the places he had been in his travels of 60 plus years.
He then told his audience about his early life in South Africa and a lifetime of writing, entertainment, education, travel and adventure. In a previous PCEC presentation, Desmond spoke about his book, “Goodbye Africa” which featured a fictitious main character, but was actually based on his growing up in Colonial Africa.
Desmond grew up in South Africa, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia and Zimbabwe. His early education started in the Gilbert Rennie boys school in Lusaka, Zambia. He attended and graduated from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, which is in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, where he studied English, Geography and politics. His interests have always included a life of the arts and entertainment.
His early acting experience came from his boyhood involvement with the Lusaka Playhouse, then with the Courtauld Theatre, in Mutare, Zimbabwe, at one point, he played Little Lord Fauntleroy. He also appeared with his friend “Sidney” as a ventriloquist act, during his teenage adventures.
Upon completion of his formal education, he joined the Audio-Visual Services, in Salisbury, which is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England. He traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark. He enjoyed a trip to Odense, the birthplace of author Hans Christian Anderson, one of Desmond’s favorite people. He actually played one of the characters in the play “The Snow Queen” by Hans in the Lusaka Playhouse in 1957. Desmond resigned from the Audio-Visual Services in Salisbury and joined the Pollard Park Middle School in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
After a brief stay in Bradford, Desmond returned to Africa, this time in Johannesburg, South Africa. He took a position as a producer for the South African Broadcasting. He produced a children’s program but didn’t like the political environment.
Africa was in turmoil during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Zambia, in particular, had its issues. It is a landlocked country in Southern Africa and became a British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia at the end of the nineteenth century. It was governed by a London appointed administration, with advice from the British South Africa Company. Then in late 1962, an election resulted in an African majority and the calling for a secession from the federation. In 1964 Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia, led by Kenneth Kaunda, but despite its mineral wealth, the economy was largely dependent on foreign minorities.
Kaunda endorsed the Patriotic Front guerrillas, a coalition of two African parties the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). These parties worked together to fight against the white minority rule in Rhodesia. Raids were conducted into the Southern Rhodesia leading to the closure of the border in 1973. About this time, Desmond moved his family to Canberra, Australia.
Desmond put his anchor down in Australia, or so he thought, and became a citizen. He worked for Channel 7, Canberra TV on tourist and children’s programs. However, the draw of change returned, he resigned from channel 7 in 1981 and headed to Sidney. He put together a number of freelance jobs, including a production company called “The “Glebe Theatre Project” where he did a children’s program. He would also conduct lectures at the Sydney Institute of Technology and did a radio program as well. He staged a production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Ensemble Theater in North Sydney.
Back in Africa, Robert Mugabe fought Ian Smith’s white-minority government and took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom. The white-minority rule was dismantled, resulting in the 1980 general election, making Mugabe the Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe. This seemed to open a whole new vista for Desmond and he made a call to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation, asking for a job.
Desmond brought his family to Groombridge Zimbabwe. They settled into a small house, on two acres, with a swimming pool. It didn’t take long for Desmond to become restless and he had the desire to get in touch with the African wilderness. He headed a crew to work a wildlife program based on the area of Paradise Valley, Zimbabwe.
Desmond spent a life of adventure, mostly through the eyes of a camera. He now finds himself back in Australia, settling into the Northern Rivers of Australia, where he has a home in Nimbin. Who knows what the next adventure might be?
After the presentation, MC Judith Edmonds brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand.
For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.