Pat Akehurst discusses the Kadoma link [Text only]

'Kadoma, that came about in '87, and at that time they were just setting up, thinking of setting...'

Stevenage Museum

Kadoma, that came about in ’87, and at that time they were just setting up, thinking of setting up, thinking of setting up a link with a town in a developing country. It had been suggested at Mick Cotter’s civic service when he was Mayor and the catholic priest said look Stevenage is a new town, you’ve got a link with Germany a link with France, why don’t you have a town with a new country a develop, because as a new town you can probably share a lot of experiences with them, and it was eventually decided that it would be helpful in the first place if they had English as a main language so that more or less brought it down to someone in the commonwealth and Connie Rees had very strong connections with Zimbabwe so she put forward Zimbabwe and eventually after a lot of negotiation with the Zimbabwe High Commission here, 3 or 4 towns were offered us and the then Chief Executive Stephen Catchpole and John Bentley who still works for the council of course went over and viewed the towns that were there and they chose Kadoma, because in the first place it had an industrial base like Stevenage but it was surrounded by a rural area. In the second place the population at that time was very similar I think we were both about 60 thousand but Kadoma has taken in a lot of area around it now so it has gone up to more like 100 thousand, and the third reason was at that time we both had one set of traffic lights! They called them robots over there.

Apart from the civic side, which involved, not just councillors there were exchanges there were officers who came over from Kadoma who trained here and officers from here we are thinking particularly environmental health and finance had a lot of input. Housing, personnel, IT all those areas and engineering, all those areas had an input into it and it was absolutely great to be out there, in a later visit I was out there when there were five officers from the Borough Council and a friend and I were working in primary schools at the time and we all got invited to the same bree together and it was absolutely great to see how everybody got on with their counterparts. You know there were some very strong friendships that developed and there in the same way that we developed friendships with the teachers we worked with you know, and I am still in touch with them now and that’s over 10 years ago that I was out there with them.

We, in the very early days before I was properly involved, they had set up committees covering churches, education. Certainly those two were the strongest I think. There were people at this end working to be in touch with people in Kadoma in a similar situation. But then the Thatcher Government started putting pressure on the councils to stop spending money on links. So to get round that we took, we set up the Community Association, not the Community Association sorry, the Stevenage Kadoma Link Association which gets some funding from the Council, but does an awful lot of fund raising on it’s own and gets funds from various sources. But we work very much in touch with the Council, we have Council reps we have Councillor officers who come in, you know support every committee. And we know that we have always got that back up behind us. But if it hadn’t been for setting up the Link Association when they did, our link with Kadoma could have been in serious trouble, because the Council over the last few years has not been able to send officers out there and has had to withdraw from some of its involvement.

They have to tread very carefully and there were at one stage, there were suggestions that we should not, we should protest and we should break our link with Kadoma. But fortunately everybody involved in the link whether they were on the Council side or the association side was very much in agreement that the last thing you do if you’ve got friends who are in trouble is you know draw back from them. You stand by them, and we are very proud of the fact that hopefully our link with Kadoma gives people there a better image of what ordinary white people are like than some of the work, the things that have been happening in that country, and we are able to support them. We support oh something like 400 children altogether now in education. We supported street kids in the past, we supported the old people’s home, and we set up the aromatherapy session for people with AIDS and HIV.

This page was added on 16/04/2018.

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