Creating Something out of Nothing, Providing Second and Further Opportunities and Chances, Loyalty, and Transparency!
These are the philosophies which can best describe Peter Roebuck.
Fresh and with lots of teenage energy from high school, after my brother Diamond had linked me with Peter, I did not know what to expect as I arrived at Straw Hat after a 36 hour bus drive from Harare, Zimbabwe. My family had sought asylum in South Africa after my father’s political strides left the whole family endangered. Settling in Pietermaritzburg my father was employed at a construction company and my mother as an informal trader, for them to have afforded my tertiary tuition would have only been a dream. They had struggled with my brother’s tuition, who at this time had now completed his 2nd year of his LB degree.
An estate with beautiful grasslands and a castle architecture dwelling, Straw Hat was located about 20km from Pietermaritzburg central town. Rusty and rough finish on the walls and steel railings, large windows with plain wooden frames, no curtains and no burglar bars, and the “Straw Hat” balcony on the roof made Straw Hat such a unique yet simple house, a clear resemblance of the brains behind it. Photographs of the site before Straw Hat was built reveals that the piece of land was not worth much, well until Peter created something out of it.
It may have been a blessing in disguise that on my arrival in the summer of 2005, Peter was as usual not at Straw Hat but across the world where he would dress normally and formally, or so he said. In the next couple of weeks I would quietly listen and observe life at Straw Hat. The very first observations would be the strict rules and traditions, systematic roles and responsibilities, while there is a huge sense of one big happy family. You would know that despite the many different activities and interests of the many occupants of Straw Hat, either on a Saturday or Saturday morning we would all wait and line up once the house phone rang as Peter would traditionally call from Australia, or from wherever in the world he would be covering his favorite sport, cricket!
During these telephone calls Peter would inquire from each individual what was happening in their lives, their examination results from the last semester, how they were looking forward to the coming academic year, how long the grass was and more importantly how the dogs were doing, and so on and forth. Such great detail further left me with more questions than answers on what to expect as Peter would be back at Straw Hat sometime in March of 2006. I had still not met Peter and yet he had shown the attention and concern which often only emanates from blood parents. I began to understand why everyone else in the house called Peter “Dad”.
The next few weeks would pass quickly as varsity resumed for most occupants of Straw Hat, and that sees me commencing my first year mid-February 2006. Before time we are all patching up and mowing the grass as Peter’s return is imminent. Without a word to anyone it reminds me of my early days with my father and mother in the small town of Kadoma, Zimbabwe. Before their return home from their various errands, we would spring clean and ensure all was back in order as far as possible – you know they do not tolerate nonsense.
On his return Peter would be a reflection of his weekend telephone calls. A stricter routine of the day is put in place. On an ordinary day he would be up before many and you would find him glued to his old and dilapidated laptop, typing away his opinions and articles which would draw the attention of many across the cricketing world. Later in the years you would find Copperhead jealously on his lap as he focused on his laptop. Copperhead became his favorite dog and many conversations would not end without mention of the name, you would swear Copperhead was a second year B com student. As we all gathered ourselves and prepared for the day ahead running up and down the two-storey building, he would make his coffee and spare a minute or two to have conversations with everyone. By the time we will be leaving the house squeezing ourselves into his Toyota Tazz, he would have known what each of us have to face on the day. He was involved in each and every one of us’ lives and would offer his support and encouragement in whatever ventures we dreamt of.
Life at Straw Hat involved very long hours. Leaving Straw Hat at about 07h00 in the morning and often returning home after the last class, and driving away into the country arriving back at about 20:00h. In the early days I would look forward to returning home and indulging in John Wright’s cooking. He was a friend of Peter teaching at a high school in Pietermaritzburg. They both were big fans of Bob Dylan and as you would enter the house you would be welcomed by the likes of ‘Tambourine Man’ playing on a cheap and old CD and cassette player. The dining table would be set and we would all gather and feast. Reflections of the day from all, planning the day ahead, and general discussions and a lot of laughter characterized these dinners, and more importantly, we thank the Lord for John Wright’s cooking which went on for years. Believe me you would not have wanted Peter to prepare any meal for you.
To be continued …
Tree By The Pool Copperhead The Dog
Peter & Tatenda