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Extract from December's MGCC publication - Safety Fast

News from Africa

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Friendly City Indaba


The twelfth biannual National Indaba took place in the friendly (but windy) city of Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean, of South Africa recently. In fact this was more than a national Indaba as International visitors from the UK, USA, Australia, Botswana, Holland, Malaysia, and Singapore took part and among the UK contingent was none other than our National president Bill Wallis and his lovely wife June, with Don and Mary Hayter from Abingdon.

Although the event was centred in Port Elizabeth over the above long weekend, for many international visitors the event really started at least a week before when they flew into Johannesburg and were hosted by that centre's members. A day was spent at Sun City and then they were swept off to the Vape by the Blue Train over 24 hours from Johannesburg to Cape Town. This is the experience of a lifetime (a la Orient Express) with superb service and meals, and one long party! Many members of the Johannesburg centre joined the party on the train and sixteen M.G.s were on two special two-level carriages behind the Blue Train.

An additional event to run concurrently with the Blue Train was "The Great Train Race", in the spirit of the Woolf Barnato's epic run in the thirties against the French Blue Train. (Barnato raced from Cannes to London, beating the train by four hours in a Gurney Nutting bodied Bentley.) A team of eight M.G.s from the Johannesburg Centre set out to beat the train to Klerksdorp, Kimberley, Beaufort West, Worcester, Wellington and finally to Cape Town in stages. The team of Roger Pearce, Johan Meyer, Owen Walton, Roger Bull, Clive Alexander, Barry and Di Benningfield, Chris and Morag Colverd and Ken Duncan with Stuart Hain not only beat the train, but the train was disqualified for being towed!

The train arrived about 20 minutes after The Great Train Race cars and the magic reception on the platform was followed by the Blue Train people going off to their Hotel to settle in. In the evening a formal reception was held in the magnificent setting of the Western Province Cricket Clubhouse at Newlands. Neville Davies, Cape Town Chairman, and Norman Ewing, Chairman of the Combined Centres of Southern Africa (CCSA), made speeches to welcome the Overseas guests and to point out that the next Indaba is in Cape Town in 1998 and that steps would be taken to remedy the indifferent weather so far being experienced in Cape Town.

On Wednesday a tour of the Wine Farms around Stellenbosch was arranged, with sightseeing.

On Thursday the coach, with former Johannesburg Centre Chairman Keith Burton as the tour guide, set off on the two day 750 km (470 mile) drive to Port Elizabeth. First stop from Cape Town was at Somerset West to see George and Susan Tuck at their home. George is the UK Club and Johannesburg Centre Honorary Life Member, National President of CCSA and Vice President of the Cape Town Centre. Second stop was at the Swellengrebel Hotel in Swellendam for lunch.

Some of the cars in the Great train Race had experienced minor problems related to exhausts, alternators, etc., and some of the cars on the Blue Train refused to start (a combination of difference in altitude from 6000 feet to sea level and flat batteries). This bought back memories of my car in 1990 being ignominiously pushed off the duff starter motor - embarrassment, oh yes! However, on the next stage of the run from Swellendam to Knysna the gremlins really got to work. Somehow I had ended up in a group of 8 cars who were tail end charlies. Pepi Gaspari's MGA started with ignition problems which were traced to a failed coil and a loose LT connection on the distributor . Don Hayter produced a coil out of Roger Pearce's MGB LE boot and the car, with a few hiccups, made it to Knysna. Next was Celia Baylis's MGB GT with a massive fuel leak from the jet tube on the back carburettor. Thanks to mobile phones, I was recalled from 15 kms up front, to assist Johan Meyer in his valiant efforts to stem the flood. As dusk was approaching they decided to tow the car into George and get it fixed in the morning. Kathy Ferreira who had been in Johan's car ended up with me in my loan MGB GT along with Jeroen Ruygrok from Holland. We were last man home at Knysna - it was a long day!

After the overnight stop at Knysna, the Friday morning saw us on the last leg to Port Elizabeth. I had a largely uneventful trip and the coach party stopped off at Tsitsikamma Lodge for lunch. Arrival at Port Elizabeth was followed by registration, regalia, and settling into our chalet style accommodation at the Willows Resort. Many registrants from Johannesburg, Northern Transvaal and East London had gone directly to Port Elizabeth, and now the whole crowd got together and the Indaba began.

After welcoming speeches by Ross Lawson (Port Elizabeth Chairman) who was by now losing his voice, and Norman Ewing. Don Hayter gave us a very interesting talk on his life at the factory and the evolution of the MGA and MGB. He had brought along some models of EX 181, ADO 21 and factory drawings with which to illustrate his talk. The Chief Traffic Officer of Port Elizabeth also gave us an amusing welcoming speech.

The next day saw the Concours get under way at Hobie Beach. Port Elizabeth was by now beginning to live up to its reputation for wind and after lunch we returned to the Willows for the Concours d'Elegance and de Comique. This was followed by the traditional Tug of War. The results appear on next page

Car of the Event Roger Lewis M.G. TD Cape Town
T Type 1 Roger Lewis M.G. TD Cape Town
2 H. Gordan Howard M.G. TC Cape Town
3 Rod Paxton M.G. TF Border
MGA 1 W. Erlank Port Elizabeth
2 J. Moore Johannesburg
3 N. Beck Cape Town
Saloons1 1 N. Davies M.G. ZB Cape Town
2 K. Watson M.G. ZB Johannesburg
MGB pre 1970 1 R. Holden Jones Port Elizabeth
MGB post 1970 1 C. Morris Border
2 G. Chapman Port Elizabeth
3 R. Clarke Cape Town
Tops only 1 C. Champion M.G. TD Cape Town
2 Kim Millar MGB Johannesburg
3 V. Fear M.G. TF Johannesburg
Bill Greig Johannesburg
John & Joyce Roy Cape Town
Tug of War Port Elizabeth

The evening was started off with the traditional South African Braai (barbecue) and was followed by an auction of M.G. memorabilia, books, posters, etc. - in fact anything to do with M.G.

Sunday saw the weather and the mystery run around Port Elizabeth. I co-opted Kathy Ferreira, whom I had rescued from Johan Meyers tow car, to be my co-pilot. The run was interspersed with M.G. clues, items of historic interest, four driving tests with a hill climb. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but the lunch boxes were a bit of a pain in the driving tests - especially the peanuts which went everywhere in the car. We had timed our departure so that we could return to Willows and be in time for the start of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The CCSA delegated meeting cut into the Grand prix, but was productive with Bill Wallis and myself being invited.

The followed the formal dinner with prize giving, thank you and farewell speeches. Prizes were as follows:

Mystery Tour Roger & Lorraine Pearce Johanneesburg
Drivign Tests & Hill Climb Clive Mulder Northern TvI
Team Prize Gary Millar Johannesburg
Derek Smith
Nigel Stokes
Kimber Trophy Clive Mulder Northern TvI
George Tuck Trophy Roger Pearce Johanneesburg
G.P. Trophy and Nuffield Cup Johanneesburg

A very heavy speckled hen session in the pub saw most of the die-hards having a very late night.

On the Monday morning after a Champagne breakfast the Overseas party took their leave to fly to Johannesburg and then go onto the Kruger Park for a few days game spotting. The rest of us started our journeys home after a thoroughly enjoyable Indaba. I headed back towards Cape Town by first following the Colverds in their V8 roadster out of P.E. then meeting up with the three red TDs of Joan Parker, Chris Champion and Nigel Sedgewick at Stormsriver, and after stops at Plettenberg Bay, Wilderness for lunch, a large contingent of the Cape Town Centre overnighted in a lovely small hotel in Albertinia for another round of celebration speeches and dinner.

The following day saw us again meeting the three red TDs and a leisurely drive saw us going over Sir Lowry's Pass and into the rain in Cape Town. I paid a personal visit to George and Susan Tuck and gave then the best wishes of the UK club. George and I, it turns out, have something in common besides M.G.s, in as much as we were both born in Cambridge. (All the best people were! APW)

To Ross Lawson and his Indaba Committee of Carol Van Loggerenberg, Paul Degoumis, Terry Estment, Gary Chapman, Lionel Wilmot, Antoinete Lawson, Wesley Erlank and of course Fredrina - well done.

I have to personally thank Norman Ewing and the Johannesburg Centre, the Port Elizabeth Indaba Committee and the Cape Town Centre for their help in making my visit possible. To Neville and Gaye Davies a special thank you for the loan of their MGB GT for the whole fortnight and to Ralph and Hilda Clarke and Dr. Joan Parker and John Mullins for their special Cape style hospitality. I have already committed myself (and hopefully Janine) to the Cape Town Indaba in September 1998 - it is their Golden Jubilee Year and so is special.

Their organising Committee is already up and running - be there!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.

Go Well, Hamba Gahle, Lekker Ry or Tsamaya Sentle.

See also The Firstcard African Safari

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