Nestling in the foothills of the Matopas, approx 43 miles south-east of Bulawayo
on the main road to Beit Bridge at the turn-off to Filabusi lies the quaint
little railway village of Balla Balla. In 1980 it was renamed Mbalabala when Rhodesia was
renamed Zimbabwe. Overshadowing the village is a towering koppie and
well known landmark, affectionately known by all its inhabitants as "Baldy".
Its official name is Balloon Kop. It is a twin-domed koppie lying North - South
and has a surveyors mapping beacon placed upon the higher Northern most dome
overlooking the now extinct 9 hole golf course, adjacent to the road that leads to Filabusi.
If only the beacon could recount but a few tales it surely must have witnessed.
One of significance to me was when I was nicknamed "Speedy" halfway up the koppie.
A group of us had set off together to climb Baldy and as usual I got left behind.
The group next met up with me when they were halfway down and I was only halfway up.
Was it Noel Smart who thought to aptly nickname me? Grrrr. Guys still call me Speedy
and I'm still rather partial to it.
Balla Balla, comprises the Balla Balla Hotel, an african General Store,
an eating house, (better known as a shebeen), a railway station, a Shell
petrol station, a miniature Anglican church with four or five pews, a
few railway houses, and is completely surrounded by cattle ranches and
farms. To name but a few of them, there was Portbury Farm, owned by the
Duckworths, Balla Balla Ranch, owned by the Sandersons, Irisvale Ranch,
owned by the Poultneys and New Brighton Farm, owned by the Cummings.
All the farmers had something more, other than farming, in common with Balla Balla, as
they all had an active involvement, one way or another, with St Stephen's College.
Back in 1956, Father Maurice Lancaster, who had nurtured a lifelong dream to
build a school realised his dream when he met with Mr Alastair A Sanderson, a
business man and farmer who owned Balla Balla. Mr Sanderson and his family
had decided to donate some 250 acres of his farm, in memory of his parents,
to the establishment of the school that Father Lancaster had for so long
dreamed of. After a Board of Governors had been established, and some plans drawn up,
and some buildings erected some three years later a school was born.
Hence the birth of St Stephen's College when in February 1959 it opened its
doors to the founding pupils . The first boy to arrive was Robert Webb but
Lat Fuller, son of Pop and Jo Fuller, who were members of staff was already
living on the College grounds and so their arrival is always recorded as
having arrived simultaneously!
Sadly, the school went through hard times, but more about that in another
section to be found under the "College History" button.
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