Master carpenter berthold horn was amazed when an old friend and colleague from the master school came to his 70th birthday. Birthday as a well-wisher. No wonder, since caxton chitombo had traveled from zimbabwe, the former granary of africa.
From september 1980 to may 1982, berthold horn and caxton chitombo had attended the master school for carpentry in bayreuth together. A close friendship developed between the two, which continues even after 36 years. Seven years ago berthold horn traveled to zimbabwe with his wife gunda. Now chitombo has made good on his promise and visited his friend in lanzendorf.
Berthold horn remembers the beginnings at the master school well: "caxton was always standing somewhere in a corner during the break with what seemed to me to be a rather grumpy face. I approached him and he told me that he didn’t understand anything about teaching." He asked himself how he could help the man. After consulting with his wife, he invited the african a few days later. "It was kind of funny because caxton hardly understood german and we hardly understood english." Nevertheless, they got to know each other better – and the guest told his story. After a new, young generation was needed in his home country for the reconstruction of zimbabwe, caxton chitombo and 40 other young people received a scholarship from the ottobenecke foundation for an apprenticeship in germany. Berthold horn: "my friend already knew several languages and was very eager to learn. That is why he was one of the chosen ones. The only hitch was that the learning of the german language was apparently limited to a four-week course at a goethe institute."
That’s how you used to do it "with your hands and feet" the students in the master class had helped a lot. In the end chitombo actually passed the exam.
In the meantime, the 68-year-old improved his practical knowledge and craftsmanship in the company of berthold horn in lanzendorf. This gave him an insight into the german way of working. And what horn also remarked: "caxton was and still is a sonnyboy who likes to laugh and always has a funny saying on his lips."
At some point, he met a student from ludenscheid. After completing his training, he went back to his home country, where he built up a business. His university sweetheart followed him, and the two have been a couple for 34 years now, living in harare, formerly salisbury, and having three children together.
Chitombo’s wife runs a physiotherapy practice with a colleague. Only half of his fellows have made something of their training, and hardly any of them have made the leap into self-employment.
A spirit of optimism
Caxton chitombo focused more on construction and cabinetmaking. Horn: "here he also built up very good business connections, which he was able to maintain despite the adverse conditions. He has realized his intention and runs a business in harare with nine employees and three trainees." The expertise enables him to manufacture products of high quality. A frequent comment from customers was: "that’s german workmanship."
Caxton chitombo also visited the summer festival of the friends of the master school in windischeschenbach from lanzendorf, where there was also a meeting with his then challenger erich zieher from the chamber of handicrafts. The joy of seeing each other again was enormous. Zieher was amazed at what his master student had accomplished in his home country with the knowledge he had acquired in bayreuth.
As caxton chitombo reported, following the inflation of recent years, the U.S. Dollar is the official currency in zimbabwe. The economy has calmed down again and there is a spirit of optimism throughout the country. The social impact is huge. In the cities, there is a certain standard of living, but in the countryside, people are still living in mud huts.