Old Croc Rocks!

From Alicia our last edition’s ‘youngest ever’ Guest on ‘The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Kaufela’, this week we switched to ‘oldest ever’ in the shape of Jo Mcgregor Brooks (above) who clocked in at a young 85 years old, though during the show he laid claim to 57 – later admitting that this was the number of years he’d been in Zambia! The Experience is our weekly radio show airing at 20.30 hrs CAT for an hour every Sunday night on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station, and is a lively mixture of latest international as well as Zambian music and chat with our ‘Guest of the Week’. The show is popular locally, partly due to the fact that each week we give away dinner for two with drinks at the lodge, to the first person to text us telling us who’s singing our ‘oldie of the week’. Jane won on this show knowing that Will Smith sang ‘Switch’ way back. Her prize was enhanced by Jo who kindly donated a trip for two to the Livingstone Crocodile Park as well!

Jo told listeners that at age 14 he had enrolled in the British Army and had served for some 11 years. In 1956 he took up an appointment with the then colonial government of Northern Rhodesia – later Zambia – as a game ranger and had, altogether, spent some 50 years in the bush. “Did he miss it?” We wondered. “Not really”, he replied, saying he felt he had ‘served his time’ and anyway roundly blamed the job on his poor hearing, explaining that he had, over the years, fired about 1000 rounds from a 458 without wearing ear muffs. His job involved shooting troublesome or injured game in the Zambia National Parks. He told listeners that from time to time he still goes out to shoot when and where there is need. He and his son Ian had opened the Livingstone Crocodile Park in 1996 and Jo said he got great support from Zambian visitors though there were not enough tourists. There were some 70 crocs in the park with snakes and other reptiles too. “Well worth a visit if you come to Livingstone!” We said.

The music on the show was ‘latest’. We opened with Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ back to back with Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’, numbers one and two in that night’s UK charts. George dropped the highly controversial ‘Bufi’ by Petersen and Pilato, a commentary on the current political situation in Zambia. He coupled that with Tasila Mwale’s lovely ‘Ready For Love’. Milli Jam featured Beyonce’s ‘Standing On The Sun’ back to back with ‘Soundbwoy’ from the entertaining Stylo G. Our pick of the week was Emile Sande’s ‘Easier To Cry’ and we closed with Fergie, Q-Tip and Goonrock’s ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’. “Do you party?” We asked Jo. “What?” he replied “Do you party?” We insisted. “You mean Limpo’s?” Jo replied and we laughed at his reference to one of Livingstone’s hot nightspots, but we never did get a definitive reply!

Jo told listeners that he was a Scot, born in Bowness-on-Solway near Stirling. He has 3 children and 6 grand chidren aged 13-30 but no great grand children ‘that he knew of’! He is a widower. He had been closely involved with the construction of the Kariba Dam helping to rescue animals relocated because of the work, and protecting villagers from displaced, angry, marauding game. At one time he and his family had a huge crocodile farm in Sinazongwe housing some 7000 crocodiles, raised and killed for skins and meat. They had also owned and managed a garage in Choma for years, selling fuel and servicing vehicles. Jo likes country and western music – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers and supports Manchester United because he ‘likes winners’.

Asked when he would retire he replied ‘never! When you retire you die!’ We wondered to what he attributed his long life and he replied ‘I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs and every day I take one table spoon of crocodile fat which boosts my immune system’! “Get in!” We said, as George and Milli Jam asked when they were going to be shown around the crocodile park! It was a good show with a great guest!