Elandshoek Guest Farm

Pre-School

Born 15th December 1964, Burchnough Maternity home, Gwelo, Rhodesia (now Gweru, Zimbabwe). I am one of four siblings and the third child in the family, with an older brother Gregory Lawrence Rainsford being two years older than myself and my sister Belinda Caroline Rainsford being one year older than me. My second brother Allen Roger Rainsford is five years younger than me.

We lived on a small holding, one hundred and fifty acres in size called Sinoma Farm, in the Hillendale area outside Que Que, GPS coordinate, lat. -18.94227 and lon. 29.7862 located in the midlands region and one can say slap dash in the middle of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa bordering South Africa to the south, Mozambique to the east, Zambia to the north and Botswana to the west. Zimbabwe is home to the Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980 after a 14-year bush war with the white minority Rhodesia government during its unilaterally-declared independence.

My father was a gold miner, and mined in the Gatooma (now Gadoma) region in Zimbabwe. He was owner of the Bromton and the Stilton mines, of which the Bromton mine was sold to the Rio Tinto Group. My mother came out of a family of farmers, possibly where I got my wish to own a farm one day.

Schooling

Just turning five years, my first schooling experience was at Fitchlea Junior School for around two years and thereafter to Que Que Junior School where I completed my standard five grade. The Que Que Junior School was headed by a Mr. Mc Grady.

At the age of twelve, beginning 1977 it was time for me to go to High School, I was off to boarding school at Chaplin High School in Gwelo. As mentioned before, Gwelo is my birth town, it was a great town, larger than Que Que of course, it had traffic lights. Gweru lies some 60kms south of home town Qwe Qwe, to the north east of Gwelo was a road to the town called Umvuma, to the east of Gweru was the road to Selukwe (now sherugwe) and then to the south or south west the road to Bulawayo. Selukwe, by the way is the town where our Prime Minister of the time, Ian Douglas Smith was born April 8, 1919.

There were other schools in and around Gweru, there is Thornhill High, and there was another one on the way to Selukwe called Guinea Fowl High, however Geanea Fowl was only a boys high.

The head master of Chaplin High at the time was a Mr. Arlers.

Chaplin High was divided up into eight different houses, four were boarding houses and four were day scholars. Of the boarding houses, two were for the girls, one was Linfesty House and the other Maitland House, and of the boys hostels one was Duthy House and of course the other Coghlan House.

My first passport was issued from the Sailsbury Passport Office on the 10th October 1979 at15 years of age. It was always a hassle to travel as a minor on your parents’ passport. This was a milestone for me, I would now be able to travel on my own.

The town name Que Que was changed to Kwe Kwe in 1982 on the second year of Zimbabwe’s independence.

Post-School

From High School at the age of eighteen years, I left for South Africa in search of work. I started on 10th January 1983 as an apprentice Electronics Equipment Mechanisian with Siemens in Koedoespoort, Pretoria. The training at Siemens was very interesting, to get a feel for German Precision, the students were in for a six month mechanical course where we were taught about different materials and how to work with the material using all the basic hand tools. I remember filing a block of steel of around 60mm in length, breadth and width, down to a perfect square of 50 by 50 by 50mm. We also made our own door bell during the course of our mechanical training.

The electronics training took us through basic electronics, analog electronics, digital electronics and processors. At that time we used an SDK 8080 kit to learn all about bits and bytes, inputs and outputs and RAM and ROM and much more. My first experience at programming, assembler language, not really done these days I am sure, with all the high level languages available today. It was at this time that I came across a PC, an XT 4.7 MHz. We built it up from a kit imported from the states. We installed a 10MB hard disk drive, at the time no one knew what we would use all the storage capacity for, and, remember DOS?

I used the Pretoria Public transport to get to work and back. Being a person that arrived in South Africa on a holiday permit, I was not permitted to work or even loan money. So application was submitted for a working permit and I also made every attempt to save money where I could. Finally, my first car in South Africa, bought at an auction for R1,400-00, was this second hand Berlina 1750 Alfa Romeo. It got me around, a bit expensive on fuel, but I had wheels.

Whenever there was an opportunity, I would get away from the city, Pretoria. There were weekend trips back to Zimbabwe, or I would go to the Eastern Transvaal, today called Mpumalanga. When there was a long weekend I would go to the Natal Coast or ever to the Cape. Trips of 1,200 Kms to Port Elizabeth or 1,400 Kms to Cape Town and Augulas the southern tip of Africa. I often went to Swellendam to visit my brother in law’s parents. It was all out doors, open country and places of good old farm living.

In 1984, I decided to buy a motor cycle, a Honda CB 1100F. The weekend trips were now really great, a better feel for freedom and the out doors. The city was just not for me. The Eastern Transvaal was now the more popular destination with all it’s beauty. I often traveled to the then northern transvaal, now called the Limpopo province.

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Employment, 1986

After qualifying as an Electronics Equipment Mechanisian, I started working at the Siemens Waltloo factory outside Pretoria. The factory at the time manufactured the EWSD switches for the local market. My responsibilities included the testing of the electronic modules that came off the production line. This proved to be extremely boring, and for that reason requested a transfer after six months from starting there.

Employment, 1987

The Electronic Equipment Design department was more challenging. I was Involved in the design and development of test equipment for the factory and the export market. This was where I first came across surface mount technology, by implementing SMT on all our printed circuit board designs. The 8751 microcontroller was very popular, and used in a number of our projects, and assembler programming was the in thing.

Employment, 1991

I transferred to the Electronics Training Center in 1991, here I worked for a Mr. Lourens Erasmus. This was a dramatic change for me. It was here where I got to learn how to transfer knowledge to others. Over the next few years I taught basic electronics, analog electronics, digital electronics and involved with advanced electronics with my colleague at the time, Jimmy Rivers. Towards the end of my time in the training centre, I also taught heavy current applications, the likes of starting 3 phase motors in a start or a delta configuration with all the automation that may be required. Further to this training was the design, application and programming of programmable logic controllers.

There was no reason to travel outside the borders of South Africa, and around 1993, I had practically visited all destinations in South Africa. At this time I felt that I would need to travel further a field, the neighboring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. My Zimbabwe Rhodesia passport had already expired in 1979, and so applied for a new Zimbabwe Passport that was issued in 1993.

Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique were countries that ware foreign to me, so I decided to purchase a car that was not only light of fuel, but one that I was able to repair if something had to go wrong. This would be ideal for the Rest of Africa trips that were now to be planned. Many people said I was crazy, it was suggested that one would have to have at least a 4 x 4 vehicle to travel is these countries. That is what everyone said about Namibia and Zimbabwe, so there was no reason to believe any one of them, and even so, I could not afford a 4 x 4 in any event. So, a three door Fiat Fire was the choice.

With one trip, I traveled through Zimbabwe to Kariba, where I spent a few days visiting friends, then over the dam wall and on to Lusaka. The border post on the Zambian side was rather shoddy, there were not even the basic documents required for immigration and for the third party insurance required for a foreign vehicle. From Lusaka I traveled the Great East road to Chipata, for the fiat this was a long slow drive as the road was at the time in bad condition with many a pothole. This was probably the reason why it was advised that a larger 4x4 vehicle would have been more suitable and more comfortable. It only meant that the trip would take much longer. Having left Kariba at six in the morning and only reached Chipata on the border with Malawi at midnight, New Years Eve 1995. Having refueled in Lusaka, the fiat had only just made it to Lilongwe on a single tank, some 722Kms.

From Lilongwe I traveled to Lake Malawi via Salima to Livingstonia Beach Hotel. The Livingstonia Beach Hotel is the oldest established hotel on the lakeshore, an African Colonial-style beachfront hotel set among Acacia trees in a secluded area on the shore of Lake Malawi. This was the first time that I saw the Lake, and also found next to the Hotel, a beautiful camping site. This was to be home for the next two nights in my one man tent.

It was time to move on, the next stop over was Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear. Cape Maclear is a small fishing village, it has one dirt road leading into (and straight out of) town. Along this road, there are a few hostels; some dive shops; a handful of vendors selling curios and fruit; and a few bars. The pace of life here is . . . very . . . slow. Arriving in Cape Maclear, I decided to book into the Ritz, at this point I had enough of the tent. The room cost me six Malawian Kwacha, exactly two Rand fifty a night when exchanged. It was time to relax with an ice cold Colsberg Green, or was it the Brown?

Zomba, the previous capital of Nyasaland before the establishment of the Republic of Malawi in 1964. The town's British colonial past is reflected in the architecture of its older buildings and homes. The Zomba Plateau is arguably Zomba's most famous feature. In some parts, it rises to 1800m in height and is covered with vast tracts of African Juniper and Widdringtonia, and other mixed vegetation. I navigated the Uno up to the Hotel, located on the edge of the plateau. Apparently the most beautiful views are enjoyed from up there. When I got up there, it was all so misty, being so high up, we were literally in the clouds and therefore did not get to see the view.

Visiting Blantyre and Limbe was an experience, it is the largest city in Malawi. In 1956 Blantyre was united with Limbe, a town 11 km to the east that had been founded in 1909 and had grown around the headquarters of the Malawi (then Nyasaland) Railways. The amalgamated city is sometimes called Blantyre/Limbe. It has two cathedrals and the polytechnic campus of the University of Malawi. It is considered the main commercial and industrial centre of Malawi. I just had to visit the local museum and get to learn more about this great city.

On this trip I seemed to have spent far too much time having fun, and had to decide on getting back to South Africa. From Blantyre I traveled back to Lilongwe in order to arrange for a visa from the Mozambique High Commission, and then back to Blantyre. The next part of my journey took me through a part of Mozambique via the Tete corridor, into Zimbabwe via Harare and then back to South Africa. A total of five weeks and twelve thousand kms traveled.?

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Employment, 1996 Rest of Africa

Arrangements were finalised for my transfer from the Siemens Training Centre to the Mobile Networks Rest of Africa department. Here I worked for Mr. Fernando Goncalves. Vodacom and MTN were already rolling out their networks within South Africa with great vigor. This was the right time for a change in my career, to gain experience in the sales arena of a well established vendor for selling and the implementation of Full Turnkey Mobile networks. Siemens was already supplying and installing the Vodacom base stations in South Africa.

The Cel-Tel network in Uganda was already implemented by Siemens, a project where the entire network was assembled in containers, including the infrastructure and vehicles to install and commission the network. All loaded onto an Antonov 124-100 airplane and flown to Entebbe airport in Uganda. The Cel-Tel network was installed in and around Kampala in a record time of less than seven days.

There is plenty to see in Uganda. Not far from Kampala is the source of the Nile river very close to the town Jinja. Being in Uganda, you just have to cross the equator on foot.

At that time, many a remnant of the Idi Amin days could be seen throughout Uganda. Even the Air France airplane at Entebbe could still be seen from a distance. Just for a little history, it was on June 27, 1976 Air France flight 139 with 246 passengers traveling from Ben Gurion Airport to Paris via Athens was hijacked by Arab terrorists who boarded during the Athens stopover and forced the flight to land at Entebbe, Uganda. The Israeli hostages were separated from the others at Entebbe. Forty-seven of the non-Israeli group was released onto an Air France plane; the French Captain and his crew from flight 139 refused to leave without all their passengers. A second group of 101 non-Israeli hostages were released and arrived in Paris, leaving only Israelis and Jews still in the terrorists' hands, 105 men, women and children. With the Israeli planes already in the air, the full Israeli cabinet met and gave final approval for the Israeli plans for a rapid air assault, extraction, and withdrawal operation. The hostage passengers and crew of Air France 139 were evacuated onto IDF planes within seven minutes, along with the Israeli dead and wounded. The Old Terminal building was left deserted except for the dead bodies of the eight hijackers. The Israeli paratroops reloaded their vehicles and equipment and the last IDF plane was airborne at 00:40, July 4.

Back to Mobile Networks, negotiations were being finalised with Tritel in Tanzania, also to be the first GSM Mobile network in Tanzania. Mobitel was already operating an analog mobile network in Dar Es Salaam. The base station sites were planned in and around Dar Es Salaam and on the Zanzibar Island. All free standing towers were manufactured in South Africa, packed into 40 foot containers and railed to Durban, where they were transported by sea to Dar Es Salaam. The network included the installation of the GSM Switch, Network Management Centre, Transmission Network, Billing Centre and Customer Care Centre to mention only the larger elements.

Later, the expansion of the Cel-Tel network in Kampala and to the west from Kampala, a microwave backbone with free standing towers to Masaka and on to Mbarara.

There was also time spent on the expansion of the MTC Namibia network.

The Project Management of the Full Turnkey Mobile Network for Net*One in Zimbabwe. This project consisted of the implementation of the Mobile Switching Centre installed in Harare, with some 52 base station sites in all the main cities and towns including the transmission network connecting all the sites. A Network Management Centre was also installed as well as billing centre and a call centre to mention some of the core network elements.

During 1997, my travels took me to Canada where I visited in Montreal and Ottawa. In the United States, I flew to Chicago, then on to San Jose in California, a day later, drove to San Francisco. Then, flew on to Phoenix in Arizona, before returning to the UK, to visit in London and Manchester, before getting back to SA.

There was many a trip to Europe, visiting only for a few days at a time. Vienna in Austria is a really great place, arrived 4th June 1998 and departed 7th June.

Spent a few days in Ghana, west Africa, from 30th September, 1998 to the 3rd of October 1998.

The planning and implementation of the relocation of the Vodacom Lesotho Switch, as well as the implementation of more base station sites.

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Employment, 1998

Around August 1998 I got involved in the potential business for the 3rd and 4th Cellular licenses in South Africa, and part of the team lobbying Siemens Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd as the preferred vendor and full turnkey supplier to the successful License holder. A new department was established in 1999, called the 3rd License department led by Mr. Pierre Savoy from Siemens Switzerland. The minister of telecommunication in South Africa at that time was Jay Naidoo. At that time the regulator was SATRA, later to be renamed to ICASA. The regulator eventually decided not to offer two additional mobile network licenses, but only one. There were a total of nine organisations preparing to bid for the license. Eventually in May 2001, the license was awarded to Cell C (Pty) Ltd.

November, 2001 was when I decided to move out of town, Pretoria. I decided to purchase four properties, totaling 71 Hectare. The GPS Coordinate is Lat. -25.7109 and Lon. 28.4908. There was very little time to work on the farm. I started with some nine ewes and one ram. The flock of sheep grew to 115 and then I decided to get rid of them. I then bought some Bonsmara beef cattle, and when the herd grew to seventy animals I also decided to get rid of them as well. I was now beginning to lean more and more about agriculture and the challenges involved. Jersey cattle drew my attention, and decided to purchase a cow and nine heifers, and this is really an interesting business with far more challenges than I had previously experienced.

Employment, 2003

It was at the end of 2002 that I decided that I should leave the corporate environment, and that I should now develop and implement a small agricultural enterprise. This was not to happen, I was away from the corporate world for only three months when I decided to join Cell C (Pty) Ltd in Morningside Johannesburg on a six month contract. Here I worked in the Network Rollout department with Mr. Deokar, an ex-pat from the Saudi Oger company in Saudi Arabia. This led to a further six month contract and eventually to have got involved to an extent that I am still in the Cell C employ.

In my spare time, I work on the farm. Tasks range from the administration to planning and maintenance. For further information of the Elandshoek Guest Farm please visit our site: www.elandshoek.co.za

This site is intended for information only, and will be updated from time to time.

In the event that you may want to contact me, please email kevin@rainsford.co.za

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