My name is Michele Browne, née Telfer, oldest sibling but also one of the shortest, hence Peter’s greeting “Hi, big little sis”.
Peter was literally born to ‘drum’. We remember him as always drumming, his fingers constantly moving to some rhythm in his head. He would drum on the walls, on his plate, on your hand, even your head. He drummed everywhere and at any time. It was like drumming “in season and out of season”.
While attending Fatima College, he would run away to find a drummer named Jaja. Peter sometimes ended up staying with Jaja. This added to Daddy’s grey hairs because as a worried parent, Daddy didn’t know where Peter was or with whom.
Jaja would always assure Daddy that Peter was okay. What a profound effect this master drummer and his group had on Peter.
Peter’s nickname soon became ‘Mau Mau’ after the group. It was later shortened to ‘Maus’. From Jaja, Peter aka Maus, learned how to skin a drum and stretch skins.
When he wanted to make a drum, Peter enlisted the help of his siblings and neighbourhood friends to hike through the hills near our home in search of the gru gru bef tree. The task became even more daunting when you realised the trunk was covered with thorns two inches long.
That did not deter Peter. One childhood friend remembers the Telfer group hauling the tree down the hill past their house.
After one late night’s practice for some event or competition, I found him in the kitchen sleeping—head in his barely eaten food.
If Peter knew you belonged to a choir, or played an instrument, you would be on his radar. He once told me that he remembered receiving a flute as a gift and that he had given it to Dawud. Dawud Orr, a gifted flautist, was one of the earliest members of Mawasi and one of Peter’s dearest friends.
Rest in peace, Dawud.
Peter moved to the annex of our beloved aunt’s home on Brabant Street, in Woodbrook. It was here that his collection of instruments and drums grew and were stored.
His cousin—who lived at the same address— owned a Mazda pickup. Peter dubbed this pickup ‘Turbo Boost’. It became Mawasi’s mode of transportation.
“Our beginnings and our past are important but what really matters is how we turn out in the end; the kind of person we become.”
It would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that Daddy had on Peter.
From Daddy’s practice of his Roman Catholic faith to his love of art, Peter took so much and ran with it.
In an article written for the Catholic News, Peter wrote: “My father took an interest in my activities….no wonder then he played a key role in the Mawasi Experience. He [Daddy] was a friend to all our members. He [Daddy] designed the group’s logo…”
Peter concluded by writing: “My highest aspiration is to be like you. I know that trying to live out of God’s spirit is the highest tribute I can pay to you.”
Well, Peter, the highest tribute has been paid.
Forty plus years of your life dedicated to promoting love of God through your music and drums are testimony itself.
You will remain forever in the hearts of your friends, your family, your mom, and your siblings: David, Neil, Andre, Mercedes, Sharon, Gerard, Raphael and your ‘big, little sister’, me.