Harry Curtis – School and University


My primary school years were at Ndola Primary. We wore khaki uniforms with a green and white stripped tie. The girls wore green dresses. I only have wonderful memories of the six years spent at the school. The teachers were good and I enjoyed all the sporting activities provided by the school, namely soccer, cricket and athletics.

My sisters attended the Ndola Dominican Convent for both their primary and secondary schooling. I had the privilege of being brought up on a farm and because of the many interesting and exciting events I can remember, have recorded these on a separate page titled Highlands Farm – My Home.
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Concerned about the quality of education in Zambia and the career prospects after school, my parents sent me in 1967, my grade 7 year, to boarding school in Johannesburg St Davids College, the Marist Brothers College founded in 1940 situated in the suburb of Inanda. My parents had corresponded with the school and liased with my mothers sisters, Rita Frank and Edna Duthie who lived within walking distance of the school. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, being too preoccupied with the fun at Ndola Primary and farm life.

It was a tearful departure having to say goodbye to Mum, Sue and Rex, my faithful hound and a best friend. However this soon passed as I was on my way with my Dad, driving to Johannesburg on this new exciting venture. Little did I know how devastated I would be a week later. We had a fun drive down stopping over in Harare to spend a night with my fathers brother, Buster and family. Buster and his family moved to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe after Zambia obtained independence in October 1964. We spent the next evening at the Ranch Motel in Pietersburg, South Africa and then to Johannesburg. I always enjoyed the company and the fun experiences of being with my father.

We stayed with my mothers sister and her family, Rita and John Frank and daughters Lynne, Diana and Vivienne. The following day we bought school uniforms and other items required for boarding.
We had a brief look around the school on the weekend. On the Sunday afternoon we arrived at the school and met the Headmaster, Brother Anthony after which we went to the dormitory and locker room where I would spend the next 6 years boarding. This would be my second home and the Marist Brothers my foster parents. My first evening as a boarder was 23 January 1967.

My father stayed in Johannesburg for a week before returning to Zambia. I did not enjoy boarding school from day one. I had the comfort of knowing that I would be seeing my father the coming weekend, 5 days time.
I spent my next 6 years as a boarder, matriculating in 1972. I was a keen cricketer and athlete in my early years and really only started playing rugby from grade 11. In my matric year I played for the first rugby and cricket teams and shared the athletic Victorlaudorum having excelled in the shot-put, discus and high jump. I was awarded my honors blazer in 1972 on receiving my prefect, merit and athletic scrolls. Being appointed a prefect and then the awarding of a honors blazer were my most memorable achievements.

Although the comeraderie and friendships that were built as a boarder were valuable, I would have far preferred to have been a day boy in Zambia enjoying the life as a farm boy growing up with my parents. I was only able to be with them for a total of 2½ months a year during the mid year and year end holidays. My father was only able to watch one of the games of sport I played in my entire 6 years, a cricket match in Grade 11. I have very fond memories of my holidays. I would wake up every morning with such excitement, as there was always so much to do. Picking the fruits for breakfast, helping the farm workers, feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs and going for long cycle rides or walking in the bush with my Alsation, Rex and later with Bonnie, were a few of the activities.   Ploughing and fertilising the lands, and then sowing the seeds for the summer rains was always exhilarating.   In the June holidays my father and I would attach the ends of a 50 metre heavy chain to the 2 farm tractors and together pull the chain, driving 50 metres apart and parallel to each other, to flatten the maize stalks after the maize had been picked. The cobs were hand picked from the stalks and put through a maize sheller which extracted the pips off the cobs and shook them into bags. These bags were then collected by the Ndola Milling Company to be grounded into meal. I also loved mowing our huge lawns and remember well, the smell of the cut grass and the beauty of the garden after the lawns were mowed.

I remember at the beginning of a rainstorm, the flying ants would appear from no where and the skies would be filled with swallows and swifts swooping down on their prey. It was a sight to be seen and again the smell of the rising dust when the rains first fell, is unforgettable.
At the end of the day my dad and I would get our golf putters, open a Castle Lager and for about an hour, on a flood lit home made putting green, have putting competitions. These were made quite competitive just for the fun of it. We would often pull out the telescope and search into the star filled skies for any unusual heavenly body.

Boarding school was harsh, not easy to adjust to, coming from a loving environment and experiencing the freedom of farm life. There was no longer any love, privacy and freedom to dream. Bullying was rife and the Marist Brothers were certainly not the caring people you would expect of those having received the religious habit. During the 6 years I was at the school and more so as the years have passed since matriculating, I was and still am amazed at their lack of compassion and support expected of Marist Brothers who had taken their final vows in the service of Christ.

Saying goodbye to my father the following Sunday was traumatic, as I would next see him 5 months later.   The precious letters we wrote on Sundays and those received was my only means of communication.

Paging through the 1967 St Davids College Review Album, I found a photograph of the school choir. There I was, the only picture relating to my past singing ability. The school also had a brass band that performed at numerous parades and functions. Sadly the choir and band activities soon came to an end. As boarders we had no cultural activities. Sport was our only release of energies.


My parents had done their homework and identified Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, as a good institution to study at after matric. Having no idea what career to follow, my parents decided that I should start with a B Com. If I decided to subsequently change degrees, this first year would not be wasted is it was useful for any one to know a little about accounting, economics, commercial law and business management.
I stayed in residence during the 4 years I was at Rhodes, completing the 3 year B Com in 1975 and then completing the Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) in 1976, a pre-requisite to writing the Chartered Accountant qualifying examination.

My first year was in Jan Smuts House and the remaining 3 years in Cory House. These were 4 great years. I met some wonderful people, had lots of fun, worked hard academically and became extremely fit spending up to 3 hours a day in the gym and running a lot. To increase my strength for field events during the athletics season I was introduced to weight training in my first year. I took to it very quickly and have trained weekly, on and off, ever since. In my last year I had done a 300lb bench press, 420lb squat and 520lb dead lift. I weighed 115kgms.

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  • Ndola Primary School -
  • Ndola Primary School Musical - Grade 1 (1961) -
  • Ndola Primary School Class - Grade 5 (1965) -
  • Marist Brothers School with Brother Anthony - 1967 -
  • Marist Brothers First Rugby Team - 1972 -
  • Marist Brothers First Cricket Team - 1972 -
  • Marist Brothers Athletics Team - 1972 -
  • Marist Brothers Standard 10 Class -
  • Rhodes University - Cory Function -
  • Rhodes University - Cory House 1976 -
  • Rhodes University - Cory House 1974 -
  • Rhodes University Ball -
  • Rhodes Rag - Drummies -
  • Rhodes Rag - Drummies -
  • Rhodes Rag - Float -
  • Rhodes Rag - Float -
  • Rhodes University - Cory House -
  • Rhodes University - Cory House -
  • Rhodes University Graduation - 1976 -
  • Rhodes University Graduation - 1976 -

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