Benjamin Leon

self-appointed historian for Gatooma/Kadoma, was born and grew up in that town. He was educated at Jameson Primary School and Milton Senior School in Bulawayo, where he joined the photographic club and became fascinated by the photographic process in the dark room.He married Rose Navarro in 1963 and they have three children.

He worked as a photographer and reporter for the Gatooma Mail from 1958 to 1978 and has a stack of monochrome negatives from that era taken on a Roleiflex camera. He was instrumental in producing the 60th anniversary edition of the paper published in 1972. He was also a correspondent for The Herald.

In 1991 he ran a portrait studio of the now defunct Noel Wesson in Harare, and at the same time obtained a diploma in photography from the Harare Polytech.

In his youth he operated the projectors of the Royalty Theatre cinema in Gatooma. He mixed his own monochrome chemicals for his darkroom at home. In 2003 he acquired his first digital camera whilst running the portrait studio for Strachan’s Photo Pharmacy, where he worked for 24 years before retiring in March 2016.

Pilgrim’s Rest: A Living Museum

Pilgrim's Rest is a quaint living museum of a mining town which experienced a gold rush in 1873 when the South African government declared it a gold field. This well-preserved little town is the setting for the book about the famous dog "Jock of the Bush Veld" by Percy FitzPatrick. His writings are preserved in a building in Pilgrim’s Rest, which served as the location for the 1988 motion picture of the book. The tarmac road in front of the Royal Hotel was covered with gravel for the movie.

HISTORY: The Railway Town Built on Gold

The name Gatooma is believed to have originated from a hill named Kaduma, close to Golden Valley. Kaduma is a Sindebele word meaning “which does not thunder or make a noise”. There is also a possibility that Gatooma’s name derives from the Chizezuru word Kudoma, which translates to a word which must not be spoken because it refers to a holy place inhabited by spirits. In all likelihood the hill was once revered as an early shrine, but for some reason became silent, because tribal spirits no longer spoke from its depths.