This section is rather a long pleasurable read.
We leave Thunder and Smoke for Binga 17° 34S. 27°E on lake Kiriba. Victoria Falls tourist trappings are not long in disappearing with the road switching back to a more classical African earth road. The long day’s drive is enjoyable and we are rewarded by some hot springs in Binga where we suffer our first Zimbabwe rip off.
Pitch No 91 across the road from the spring is 100Z$ for the night. The extortive price may be more to do with the fact that few tourists pass this way never mind drive up to Mana Pools north of the Kariba Dam. At that price we do not hang around in the morning.
None of our available literature prepares us for the drive that lies ahead of us. One of the most ghastly we were to encounter on the whole of our African Trip. Blistering sunshine, mile after mile of corrugations that rattled you ivories till you thought they would turn to a white powder: The corrugations road of all Corrugations roads.
At sixty kilometres per hour Williwaw‘s grit is tested to the limit.
There is a cut-off point to what one can take so our dust trail comes to an early stop with Pitch No 92 on the roof. We awake to the singing voices of a group of men loading a lorry with bails of cotton. They get quite a surprise to see a jeep emerging from the bush. Village after small village pass bye. It’s another day of riding a pneumatic drill. Just when you think you have found the right speed the corrugations change width or height. All credit to the girls who grin and bear it hour after hour. Mind you I did give them one all mighty shock on taking a bend a speed I had to take some swift evasive action to steer clear of a grey mass in the form of an elephant > The highlight of the day. Unknown to us we are passing through Matusadona National Park. One of those areas designated a park on the map while on the ground it has no visible boundaries.
By the time we arrived at the turnoff to the Dam we have every intention of giving it a miss. Stopping for fuel I enquire if there is any camping to be had near at hand. The Hotel allows camping in their grounds so we pop over for a drink in the bar.
“Hy where are you from?” Ireland. Before I know it I have accepted an invitation to stay on Free State a houseboat belonging to Amp’s. Fanny is none too pleased. One minute we are camping and now we are following a complete stranger down to his houseboat on Lake Kariba. After 1250 km of driving over corrugations I am not in a sympathetic mood dismissing her arguments. Anything had to be better than having to set up the tent. Half-hour later we are installed on the bridge with large G&T. Dinner is served. A few after dinner beers and we are all snoring our heads off in no time.
In the morning all I can remember of last night’s dinner conversation is “ Do you know that elephants when swimming across the Lake follow their ancestral trails on the bottom of the lake.”
Amp’s is a Tobacco farmed when he is not wielding his boat. I spend the day helping him install a new gas water heater while he laments the plight of the white Zambezi farmers under MUGABE. He assures me that the rest of the world will turn a blind eye while the bastard grapples all their land off them. “The same thing will happen in South Africa.” “You wait and see.”
Considering that the whole way up from Binge we never once saw the waters of the lake were immersed for most of the time in choking dust and bounced around by land waves called corrugations. A lunchtime drink in the yacht club is rather weird.
Here I learn of the lakes birth. Surrounded by untouched wilderness Kiriba was formed in 1958. This is one Lake Livingston did not discover. Covering over 5100km² it is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The dam costing around 577 million pounds built-in two stages with no Environmental Impact Study it is owned both by Zambia and Zimbabwe. At a height of 617m it holds water reservoirs of 180 billion metric tons. Not forgetting because it is built on a tectonic plate since filling up it has caused numerous earthquakes. Twenty of them in excess of Magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. Its effects are felt down stream as far as the Indian Ocean.
During its construction the local Tonga people believed that the River God of the Zambezi could not be harnessed. With the death of up to one hundred construction workers their belief had a strong case.
However after two massive floods the dam was complete, displacing over 55,000 people, causing thousand of animals to drown it brought cheap electricity to the first of the resettled Tonganees twenty-five years later. They the Tonga had no say in the building of the dam or where they were resettled.
On a more positive side it is now provided cheap energy, a tourist attraction in the town of Kiriba. Excellent fishing for Tiger fish, Giant Vundu, Cheese, Nkupi to named but a few of the less known. The creation of the Matusadona National park for the animals saved by Operation Noah our road hogging elephant > an inexhaustible source of water for bird life. Not forgetting a home for Amp’s Free State. That night we venture out on to the waters to watch the sun set.
Morning we depart for Mana Pools a UNESCO world heritage Park with an assurance from Amp’s that all white Zim welcomes are indeed a Céad Mile Fáilte.
Arriving at the Park’s entrance without a visiting permit we resort to the typical unified homage and the splee that we thought you could get a permit at the gate. Eventually after a radio call we are waved through the lifted barrier. “On reaching the river please report to the main office.” Seventy-three kilometres of bush penetrating dirt track we eventually emerge on to the Zambezi riverbank without seeing one animal.
Twenty minutes later we emerge from the main park offices armed with our permit, which allows us to, caught one fist a day. Allocated camping site no six > with number three written on the permit we Pitch No 93 on site number five. Williwaw deposits the last of her radiator water in the dust as if to say this far and no further. Our campsite situated on top of a high ridge is in the midst of large trees of Mahogany and Apple Ring Acacia. Our view out over the ridge looks out on long grass stretching down to the banks of a slow-moving Zambezi meandering around small islands in and out of large pools and channels.
On the opposite bank of the river steep embankments covered in dense jungle defend the boundaries of Zambia. Prior to the Kariba dam the whole area would have being such swampier with lush river terraces reaching inland for several miles.
We settle in to the sounds of Hippos, Elephants and Hyena not forgetting the ever presents Baboons and our favourite blue asses Vervet monkeys the tugs of the bush.
Our first Manna Pool morning breaks early with a breathtaking view of water buffalo munching, Hippo wallowing, with an Elephant parked outside the gents. We have at long last found a park where the animals came to you rather than driving around on rumours looking for them. (Top TIP: Invest in good Binoculars 8X3or 9X40.)
The 2190km² of the park has one of the topmost intensities of wildlife on the whole continent. .
We visit the park ranges lodge to pick up a map of the park and hire two Canoes. I arrange to use their workshop to have a look at Williwaw. The rest of the day is spent soaking up our idyllic surroundings. An early evening drive down to a small lake called the Long Pool involves risking giving Williwaw a dose of Bilharzias > Her radiator requiring topping up from every stagnant pool there and back.
Dawn brakes with a baboon barking announcing the arrival of a Ranger to tell us that our canoes are down on the riverbank. Equipped with hats, bottles of drinking water, a picnic and a thick coating of sun tan cream we set forth. On the way over to the riverbank Florence is very distrusting of a large Buffalo that is grazing in the long grass. She has every reason to be so we give it a wide berth. It turns out that we are not the only ones going cannoning. Standing beside the canoes are a young German couple and two South Africans.
Life jackets on we set off up river. Hippos at a distance look harmless however close up at water level you feel more than defenceless, especially if they yawn. Our first pod of hippos has a young fledging. Definitely stay clear. We take a long detour behind a small island down a narrow channel emerging into another pool. Out of the undisturbed waters up pop a pair of ears and snorting nostrils and up goes the girl’s apprehension. Hippos can stay submerged for anything up to twenty-five minutes. The thought of one surfacing under our canoe keep us all on the alert. Twenty minutes late Fanny spots a HMS Hippo on a broadside collision course. “Look its tail is flapping a sure sign it’s getting twitchy.” The girls paddle with renewed vigour. We learn later that tail flapping is not a sign of aggression to be more precise that it is having a dump. For the moment nothing would convince the girls that we were not under the beady eyes of the approaching head with intent of immediate attack. We shoot across the river to the opposite bank to be confronted by a sleeping Buffalo. About turn out we go to one of the many small islands already occupied by the Germans.
While the Germans make a reconnaissance of our small island we lunch. Our island krauts are gifted with the on canning gift of seeing herds of buffalo, elephants, and wildebeest when no one else sees a thing. You name it and they have seen it. Mind you they are somewhat fortuitously that they did not spot the croc near the canoes when we departed as we are sure they would have freaked.
Who cares what ever makes them happy. For us we had reached the limits of up river paddling. We turn for home. Except for hippo dogging the soothing waters embrace us. The hypnotic silences of our surroundings slice open every now and then by the piercing cry of a Fish Eagle give us cherish moments to remember. Submersed in the setting sun we float back down the mighty Zambezi without much effort to home.
Back at camp with binoculars we watch the early evening parade of thirsty mammals. Darkness as always arrives unexpectedly. Out of the night the first set of Hyena eyes reflecting in the moonlight appear and disappear like large glow flies. Followed by a few others they create like the Hippos did a state of land fretfulness in the girls. All the assurances in the world, that the critters are harmless have little effect. That they will stay their distance does not change my ladies they being both being adamant. “Move the tent on to the roof.” “In the morning it’s far too dark now to start messing about.” “Don’t worry I stand guard.” The day’s sun and exercise wins the argument.
Awaking to the sound of crunching metal last night bone-crunching visitors are busy destroying some South Africans campsite. The brainless bastards have gone on an early morning walk (Mana Pools is one of the few parks where it is possible to go on walking Safaris escorted by a professional licensed guide.) without storing away their Cool box, tin food and the like. Right in front of our eyes their campsite is being reduced to ruins. Not a morsel of food is left. The cold box is crushed to smithereens followed by every available tin can. Even our widow’s memory catapult is a waste of time. Four direct hits have no effect in deterring the raids. The whole affair is spell bounding.
While the casualties pack up what left of their campsite and leave we breakfast. I wander over to the workshop leaving the girls to their own devices for the day. With the help of one of the parks workers I remove Williwaw radiator. It is in need of radical repair way beyond Radweld. Norman Monks the assistant park warden drops in and suggests some putty that they use. He also informs me that in the morning one of his rangers is going to Karoi to get married. If I have no joy with the putty I could hitch a ride in the back with the bride and a few of his mates. They are leaving a four in the morning. Just outside the town there is a place that does radiators. The putty is a miserable fiasco. Drop it the new name I have given my assistant is more of a hindrance than a help. He has the happy fondness of dropping all he touches. In the end there is nothing for it but an early rise and a long day with my radiator.
Three thirty in the morning. No sign of the groom or bride to be. I return to my sleeping bag. Five thirty up rolls the wedding party > Better late than never. I climb into the front seat. We call on one of the workers houses behind the Park lodge. Out marches the best man and the bride dressed to the teeth. I am given the short shift to the back of the Toyota. Scrambling aboard with my radiator I am greeted by two black faces in black woolly hats. The morning is cold. I have not notices the cold till I see them. The doors slam and we off.
Ten minutes down the road we come to a sudden halt. Before I realize what is happening my two accompanying back passengers are up on their feet banging the cab roof. The horn is blowing at full blast. Caught like a rabbit in the headlights and spots. Frozen to the ground in the middle of the track is an Elephant. Taking fright it starts running. For the next two kilometres it trundled along like a locomotive at thirty to thirty-five km per hour. Finally veering off it crash’s into the bush to be swollen by the snapping foliage. With all the excitements over we once more settle down out of the bitter wind to arrive four hours later in Karoi.
There is no offer of a lift back but a loose arrangement to meet outside the bank at 6pm. The first job on hand is to get some cash. Standing shivering with teeth rattling I await my turn in the bank to change a few hundred dollars. African bank visits have a habit of trying ones staying power. Emerging two hours later I wander over to the garage. “No we don’t handle radiators but leave it with us and we send it up to Chinhoyi to Brake and Clutch”. With no other option I am now looking at hanging about Karoi till 6 pm. I resort to one of my favourite pass times. Armed with a beer I install myself at a roadside café for a few hours of people watching.
The day drags through the heat. Around midday I am spotted by some Mana Pools acquaintances how invite me for a spot of lunch. Borrowing a jacket I return to my perch outside the bank. Six pm passing with no sign of my newly married ranger or his friends. Darkness begins to slides across the sky. Just as I am thinking I am stuck for the night out of the gloom Mrs Neville my guardian angel appears at the curb. She has spotted my sitting amongst my plastic bags of provisions. I explain that I am not a new phenomenon in Karoi i.e. the first ruff sleeping white. My predicament is that a newly married ranger has gone on the piss, no way back, radiator god knows where, stranger in town.
Zimbabwe hospitality immodestly clicks in. My angel guardian opens the door of her car excepting no good reason other than I stay the night in her home a tobacco plantation just outside town. A phone call to the girl’s followed by dinner and a late into the night discussion covering all of the Neville’s Zim woes or trips to date and a large bed raps the day up in the land of nod.
I awake to hear Mrs Neville on the phone. “Is there no way you can fly down and bring a young Irish man back to Mana Pools” “No but a group of friends are going for the weekend.” “I can get them to call over.” Mrs Neville assures me over breakfast that I will be back with my love ones by lunchtime.
After a breast-crushing hug her husband John drives me down to the entrance gates of the house. Here we are met by a young man on a shortwave radio.
“Yes I have the beers.” “Yes I’ am at Neville’s place – Be with you in a few minutes.” I am squeeze in to the car. Arriving at a cross roads we meet up with the rest of the group. Each vehicle is stuffed with kids, tents, cool boxes, wives, and friends. A quick round of handshakes we on our way.
Arriving at the start of the long trail into Mana Pools one of the Toyota develops a knocking in the engine. Nothing dampens the holiday sprite. It’s abandoned with all the gear chucked on top of one the other car trailer’s.
My driver explains that he and another hunter offered the Zimbabwean Government in the region of ten million Z$ for two hunting concessions a year ago. It was turned down in favour of two local blokes, black of course who were given the hunting rights for 60,000Z$. The Reserve on which the hunting would have being done could have done with the extra money but as my driver put it Zimbabweans are no longer looks on as cherished citizens if born white.
The days of white supremacy 1930 -1934 when a land act debarred Africans from ownership of the best farming land, and a labor law which banned them from entering skilled trades of professions are long gone. They were now however returning on the other foot to haunt us. “Another ten to twelve years and all that we have worked for will be down the swann’y.”
Finding the girls in good fettle I recount all. My provisions go down a treat.
Sticking to our close at hand surroundings I suggest that we venture forth in the morning on foot. It gets a puny response from Fanny and Flo. Perhaps their response is due more to the sign in the Wardens office “Stay out of long grass, look behind you now and again, don’t put water between yourself and a Hippo – Tourists must pay twice the fee as black Zimbabweans.” Or on the other hand I suspect that they are enjoying the company of some new arrivals.
So early afternoon armed with a camera, drinking water, and a few nibbles I set off on my own. With the setting sun on my back my first surprise is a large Monitor.
Not a computer monitor better known to inhabit European canals and rivers. This one is a fucking enormous Lizard that gives me quite a start. As one is not inclined to look at the ground when walking I had not noticed it till I had almost put my foot on it. (Monitors are related to Mosasaurs that lived 97 to 65 million years ago. One of the largest living lizards they have a long forked tongue with powerful jaws that unhinged in order to swallow large prey.)
With my pulse returning to normal I take a mental note to watch by step. Cutting in land from the river the plan is to go two kilometres straight in take a right turn and walk the parallel distance that I had walked up the riverbank. Then take another right and end up back at camp.
The way in through the long tall grass makes me feel more and more at risk. My mind sees prying eyes where there are none. I am dinner passing bye on wheels. Emerging soaked in sweat I arrive at a dry riverbed. Whether I had gone in two or more kilometres was any one guess. It did not matter, as I could not shake the feeling of being watched. I take a breather on a fallen log.
Consulting my compass I am just about to set off on a reciprocal course to the one I had walked up the Riverbank when I spot an Elephant in the bush. He appeared to be gliding effortless soundless in my direction. Perhaps he is the Elephant we chased down the track or one of his brothers. Elephants never forget. To be on the safe side I move higher up the log. He grows in statue with every unforced step. All indicators say that he has not noticed me or that he is purposely showing little interest so as to put me off my guarded.
On he comes stopping less than fifty meters away from me. It’s not possible to tell what an Elephant is thinking so I slip off the log taking protecting behind it. This fellow shows all the signs of “You are on my log.” It is written all over his face. The charge comes with no advance ears flapping. There is a soiled thud that sends a tremor up my timbers. Abandoning all rationalize thinking I high tail it straight into the setting sun. You can see me for dust. Any awaiting crouching lion in the long tall grass has only to open its jaws to take delivery of an early Irish morning breakfast. My short burst of Olympic one hundred meters speed Peters out well before the winning tape. Much to my relief there is no following trumping. In the world of might biggest is always right. I arrive back at camp alive and exulted and exhausted.
Visiting the Wardens lodge in the morning I add a note to the warnings given to one who goes on foot safari. “If you have to run don’t run blind into the sun.” I make a radiophone call to Toyota, which confirms that my radiator has gone on walk about. They have no clue as to it whereabouts. “It’s on its way to Chinhoyi, no wait a minute its in Harare, it’s not here.” The line goes dead. Norman the head warden is not of much use. Like most academicians he is as dozy as hell when it comes to practical advice. There is nothing for it but to go on a radiator hunt to morrow.
Passing some of the canoe tour operator’s camps I enquire without success after the possibilities of bumming a lift into Karoi in the morning. Fanny comes up trumps later in the day. She succeeds in commandeered a long-legged red-haired good-looking chap into giving me a lift in the morning.
We leave early completing the eighty-kilometre dirt track that leads in and out of Mana Pools before sun up. Five hours later after a stop in Kario I arrive at Brakes and Clutches in Chinhoyi. Parting company with my driver an enraged Irish voice is mollify by a cup of tea with an offer of a bed for the night and a phone call by Alan to Harare. “We make a plan in the morning if the radiator is ready I run you up the road to collect it.” Once more I am experiencing Zimbabwean hospitality regrettably Alan hungry for a sympatric ear to his countries woes, we talks late into the night.
True to his word in the morning we set off meeting another radiator & Clutch man just outside Harare. My revamped radiator, with a new core is transferred into Alan’s booth. By the time we get back it is far too late to continue on down to Mana Pools. I stay another night.
In the morning the bus turns up packet to the gunnels. I climb over one bag after another planking myself down beside a lady wrapped in three blankets, wearing two woolly hats with an ass that only allows one cheek to rest on the seat.
Belching the compulsory cough of exhaust we jolt forward followed by the grating gearbox change into second where it remains for the rest of the journey. Every cross roads renews the battle of getting stuff off and on. With two unscheduled pee stops and six hours of gasping for air I eventually arrive on top of the hill that descends down to Mana Pools. Thump the odd passenger with the radiator I haul and squeeze myself to the front of the bus just in time to indicate I wanted off.
I also make it to the barrier in the nick of time to bum a lift. One hour later I get a warm welcome. “What kept you?” “Nothing much.” Later that evening I have fitted the radiator much to my relief without Drop its help. We are all set to leave. (Top TIP: To avoid Radiator nightmares fit a fine mesh screen and make sure you reinforce its stabilizing fittings.)
Handshakes all around we once more set off down the dusty trail. The long drive to Harare is done in a hypnotic state of mind. After a week camping in Mana Pools it’s time to spoil the girls with a night of comfort. Long before arriving in the capital we are booking into a decent hotel. Driving into the city centre the trimmings of a modern city once again enforces my belief that time is being hijacked by the western illusion of speed.
Harare is one of those surprise African cities. Modern with wide boulevards it has all the trimmings and facilities of a European city > Working traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, parking meters, uniformed cops, brass doorplates and all the rest that makes up a pulsating city. We are to get to know it well over the next week but first over lunch I learn that we have accepted an invited to stay with one of our next store Mana Pools Campers. We head out north of the city to visit the Lamin family.
They live in a place called the Headlands and according to the girls they own a Zoo, a Craft Centre, Butchers, a Restaurant, a Bar, Souvenirs Shop, a petrol station, you name and they got it. The whole shebang is called the Half Way House.
After many enquiry stops we eventually drive into what can only be described as an ostentatious estate. A neatly trimmer avenue peppered with peacocks and duck meanders its way through spectacular gardens to the main house. I am beginning to believe the girls. With beaming Zimbabwean hospitality we are met by Margie and Tim. “Park over there.” I park Williwaw along side a mount of tea chests. “Welcome, welcome”.
“Oula four gin and tonic.” Armed with long cold G&T we are given the tour.
Florence is the first to see the two baby cub lions playing with a large Rockviler. She is in heaven when she hears that all three are house inhabitant. That night over dinner served by one of the many black servants we learn that the Lamin family is bailing out of Zimbabwe in the next few months for the USA.
We are also promised that we will see at first hand the white anxieties and disillusion about the future of Zimbabwe. Tim our host is a Yorkshire man > A Long John Silver type – driven by the rattle of silver. His newfound wife Margie although small in statue has a dynamometry nature. As always on these occasions the chat goes on well into the early hours.
We awake late but who cares it the good life for us for a few days. Breakfast introduces the house cook Peter who takes any thing up to two hours or two days to produce the morning meal. We are also introduces to the morning view out the kitchen window > A large black baboon pleasuring itself in its cage. “We rescued him for a Lab in Harare.” Florence is fascinated as she-wolf down her second bowel of Corn flakes. She can’t wait for her sex education to finish so she can make the acquaintance of the two six month lion cubs.
At high noon we set off for Harare in search of a visa to Mozambique. The plan is to take the Tete corridor once knows as the Gun Run to Malawi. Surprisingly we have little difficulty in finding the Embassy and a transit visa is issued without much bother. On Tim’s advice I call on Mr Hardcover in the Standard Chartered Bank. My namesake Bob Dylan works wonders. Mr Hardcover arranges a priority bank service account and through it a transfer of US dollars from Ireland. “It will be paid out on arrival without any charges or commission.” For once my namesake pulls some weight in Africa. To celebrate our good fortune we lunch in the Bombay duck followed by few pleasant hours of window shopping the day is complete. Avoiding rush hour we slip out of the city making it back just in the nick of time. Williwaws main fuel tank has developed a leak. What next?
The Lamin Commercial Centre situation at the back of the Fuel station houses a Butcher shop with a working garage. Leaving Williwaw parked outside the Garage we walking over to the entrance. We emerge into a paved courtyard overlooked on all sides by two storeys buildings. “What did we tell you? “ A gift shop, a Restaurant, a Pub, a Vegetable Shop, and Bar. We are introduced to the gathering crowed. With no escape each introduction brings a fresh drink so by the time I am invited to visit the local farmers Country Club I have no hesitation in accepting. Fanny and Flo give the Club a miss preferring an evening swim. I have little recollection of the Club other than meeting Tim father big Jim.
A large hangover hampers my appetite for breakfast and the early morning antics of a frustrated laboratory Baboons. I leave the girls to their own devices and take a ride up to the garage. Williwaw fuel tank leak turns out to be a glass reinforced fibre job. (Top TIP: Carry a kit. Plus kits for all your cylinders, Wheels, Master Brake Cylinder, Master Clutch Cylinder, and Slave Cylinder.) It takes me most of the day to remove the tank to effect repairs. It always the same knuckles one cut’s when doing repairs. So by the time I have once more cut the refitting radiator knuckle I am not in any mood to indulge Jim over a well-earned beer.
Jim enshrines all that is white wrong with the country. Arriving from Yorkshire in the fifties he is still a steadfast supporter of Ian Smith and his then regime. He comes across as a conceited bellowing buffoon. One can see straight away why there are aspirations on the black side to rid themselves of such repugnant racist white trash. Two hours are spent telling me about a silver keel and rudder that had fallen off a yacht somewhere in the Indian Ocean. “They are not lost I know exactly where they are on the bottom.” Apparently he had attempted to launder some hard-earned cash out of the country during the sanctions applied by the UN in 1968. “The sanctions were by the way ignored by most western countries.”
“How about a lift home Paddy?” “Sorry I don’t have the time take the short cut around the back of the plantation.”
One hour later I wander into the backyard of the house to hear his booming voice. “That’s your man.” A black worker is being arrested. According to Bwana, Boss, Master, Jim the worthless wanker is on the fiddle. “He steals 60,000z$ of my money pays the fine and then will have the neck to tomorrow when he realised to ask for his job back.” “In the mean time like all blacks he will develop the Craft syndrome of.” “Can’t Remember A Fucking Thing.” “It’s no wonder my son is leaving.”
“You are seeing a country under the cosh of the Zanu-pp party.” “Black Zimbabweans are hell-bent on self-destruction with thousands of whites leaving for greener pastures.” “The economy is two-thirds of the size it was in 1999.” “You are seeing right in front of your eyes a brain bleed dry policy that can only result in a dust bowel.” Jim is far for the best example of devotee white Zimbabwean patriotism he vents however an irrefutable fact that the mass exits is both the symptom and cause of the countries woes.
The whole uproar is a time capsule of African anguish. It acts like a large magnet for all with in hearing distance. The ensuing arrest is heart-rending. The poor sod is bundled with excessive violence into the waiting police car. The event leaves behind a strong undercurrent for revenge. I can’t help feeling that we as humans have lost sight of earth as a planet where every one and all living things should be given the dignity of life. With mass exploitation of people and nature, unbridled consumerism, post-modern intellectual nihilism, and new world order one is bound to ask oneself is it possible to have a science for the earth and its people. There is no answer.
Everything is a Science these days.
With most scientists being products of the western culture they reinforce their western world values. Models are used to create reality, to make visual in applied science and technology; both are so linked together that nature takes a backseat. Natural balance has all but gone out the door for the sake of development, the economy, and progress. In Livingston day’s science was about Gods creations. Modern day science and technology is about manipulation, intervention, prediction and control. Using nature for mans needs has always existed since time began but you would think these days that nature does not exist, only as a product in the endeavours to ignore and change it.
Africa colonialism like most of the rest of the world on decolonisation was left with governments trying and to this day still trying to promote western-style science as the road to economic freedom and political autonomy. Modern science holds nature laws to be space and time invariants, with most scientists considering that the results of their work stand above morality and politics. As far as they are concerned it is up to Society to do as they please with their discoveries i.e. not their responsibility but the responsibility of others.
On the one hand it is not possible to stand outside scientific knowledge. Only natural philosophy can stand above science it not having that human value. Science will have to someday come out of the Laboratory, which is state or industrial supported becoming more transparent.
With Africa turning into the dumping ground of the world’s conscience and the difference between the Islamic and western civilizations and value systems growing it is time for man to pay respect to the diversity of nature and to those who he live within this shrinking world. It is not possible to measure progress in a world of might. My hope is that over the next millennium of time scientific people will have demands placed on them to cut the cords of industrial and state support.
Let the west have its technology and Asia its mysticism. Africa gift to the world will be in the realm of human relations.
Entering the house my thoughts are shattered by another racket. Florence has fallen foul of the two cubs. Lounge room stalking has been in play, one unsheathe claw has giving her a deep scratch. Apparently one of the cubs sprang on her back from the sofa, while the other gave her a swipe for good measure. All is repaired with a band-aid with a promise to visit Rosie in the morning.
Rosie turns out to be another Mana pools acquaintance. A friend of Florence with an Irish mother living in the Southern suburbs of Harare. We set off early arriving to yet another wonderful welcome with an invitation to stay for dinner. Unlike the Lamin this family has neither the means nor desire to escape from Zimbabwe. Unfortunately it is a school day for Rosie but a quick phone call and a spare school uniform save the day – off they go hand in hand.
Our day starts with a visit to a local sculptor. His works in soapstone are thank God beyond our pocket nevertheless soapstone turned into one of those moments that caused me to all but disown Fanny. Not far from the Sculptor gallery she comes across a street vender selling carvings and down market souvenirs. What does she spot? Yes a small statue in green soapstone. Nothing would convince her not to buy it. The whole situation turns into a battle of wills. It weighs a ton, no room in the Jeep have no effect. I have no intention of carrying it half across Africa. Still no effect. Twenty minutes later it is rapped up in a box. Two minutes more and I am standing in a queue in the post office across the road. “The limit in weight Madame for posting is 20 kilos.” The queue gets longer as Fanny unpacks the statue for the third time. On the removal of some string to a round of applause the forth weigh in it scrapes under the wire. We emerge for the post office 19k 999grams lighter. Fanny with, I told you so, I with a large desire for a Mosi, a Rhino, a Bohlinger’s or a Zambezi. (Beers Label) All is forgiven by the time I get to the Bohlinger’s.
The very word Zimbabwe has it origins in stone. Directly translated from the African Shona language it means Stone house and it Bantu it translates to Sacred House or Ritual seat of a king. While the rest of Africa was using cow dung, reeds and straw to build, Zimbabwe was well on its way to becoming the masons of the continent. It has massive stone ruins in the southeast of the country. Built on 1800 acres in AD1250- 1450 they were first discovered in 1898. They were declared a world heritage site in 1986. Nineteen years later it now looks like the whole country under Mugabe is hell-bent on becoming a ruin. (Our bit of rock arrived back home safe and sound.)
After collecting our Visas for the Gun Run to Malawi we visit one the world’s finest silversmiths Michael Mavros. His silver miniatures animals are mounted on Zimbabwean ebony and are cast in a painstaking technique called “lost wax” once used in Egypt in the times of the Pharaohs and well-known throughout the ancient civilisations. His uniqueness is in the fact that he carves the original model in ivory. We arrive at his studios set in wonderful rolling hill country. There is no way one can visit this studio without coming out with a purchase. Mavros talent is that he captures in silver every little detail of the living animal. His pieces are made with such immeasurable skill that the animal are portrayed as if caught in a split moment of their living lives. It takes us less than ten minutes to fall in love with a male warthog with two young. The credit card takes a beating. (Top TIP: If you ever get the chance to own one you have a true piece of art.)
Dinner that night is dominated by the young ladies school day turns into an overnight stay with us arriving back at the Lamins late in the following afternoon. The crates are being packed with guess way? Soap stone sculptures. It turn out that they hope to set up a shop in San Francisco. For us it time to push on in the morning.
(To be continued)
Donation News: I am beginning to understand why many authors live on fresh air.
Robert Dillon: Account no 62259189. Ulster Bank 33 College Green Dublin 2
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