Tuesday Afternoon

An Online Record of The Victoria Falls Incident of 1973

Dedicated to the memory of Marjan Iduna Drijber and Christine Louise Sinclair

This site is being created to honor the memory of 2 Canadian girls who were shot dead on Tuesday afternoon, May 15, 1973, in the fourth gorge of the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls. The left photo shows Chris seated comfortably upon Marjan early on their African trip (in Durban, I believe). The bottoms of Chris's feet suggest that the girls' love of freedom from shoes began well before they entered Rhodesia! In the right photo, taken 9 days before they died, the girls are on top of a Land Rover in Victoria Falls National Park, Rhodesia, a game preserve a few miles upstream from the Falls. These 2 photos are the only ones I know of that show both girls together.

The other 2 people in the second photo are Ken Sawyer (standing) and Bill "Farley" Recker. Ken was an Englishman traveling with 5 others (his wife Barb, an American couple named John and Carol Crothers, and Chris and Marjan) as paying passengers on a Trans-African Wildlife Safari. This consisted of 2 Land Rovers (including the one pictured above) on their way from Capetown to London. Farley was a guy from Michigan that I was traveling with, on and off, on a nine-month hitchhiking trip through Africa, a post-college adventure we had planned for years. By the time we met Chris and Marjan, we were in month 7 of 9, and by then Farley and I were traveling apart more often than together. This was because a) thumbing is easier for solitary travelers and b) some friendships thrive better when excessive togetherness is avoided. Besides, by this time Farley and I both had the confidence to travel solo. Amazingly, we always found each other after our separations! Farley was with me on my first visit to the Falls (May 5-8) but not on the second, unplanned, visit (May 12-14).

The Victoria Falls Incident happened more than a third of a century ago. This site is being built to make sure it is never forgotten. More pages will be added this year (2008), including published news accounts, journal excerpts and new photos. Eventually, an index will be enlisted as an ally in the battle against chaos.

Why did it take 34 years for this tribute to appear? Within 2 years of the incident, I began to realize my memories of May 1973 had been stored abnormally, in sort of a cerebral quarantine zone, isolated from other memories. During that first year (1973-74), I revisited them often. I even I wrote an expanded journal, one that could have become a book if I'd followed up on it. But after 1974, those Rhodesian memories were never reopened, never examined, never reminisced over. My African journals likewise remained in a box. This may be due to an illogical phenomenon known as survivor's guilt: "If I hadn't suggested going into the gorges, they'd still be alive!" or "I should have been with them!" But whatever the cause, the fact remains that this site would not exist if it hadn't been for the recent appearance of an unpublished book called Three Journeys: Tragedy at Victoria Falls (Copyright 2007, Windsor, Ontario). The author of that book has requested anonymity, because he wrote it only for close friends and people directly involved with the incident.

I was one of the recipients of his well-researched book, because I was on one those 3 journeys he wrote about. We were 6 travelers, 4 Americans (Farley, me, John and Carol Crothers) and 2 Canadians (Chris and Marjan). Our diverse paths happened to converge at Victoria Falls, Rhodesia, in May of 1973. 34 years later, the 4 Americans are still alive. This site is dedicated to those 2 beautiful people who never saw their 21st birthdays. Chris Sinclair and Marjan Drijber were innocent casualties of a serious international communication failure. Their lives ended abruptly in a horrifying tragedy on Tuesday afternoon, May 15, 1973.

Paul Terpstra, Springfield, Illinois, USA
Tuesday afternoon, May 15, 2007
Updated 01-01-2008