28 May 2007

Back to the Future III

We've seen the future and it's in our past.

The future of farming in Zimbabwe!The policies of the Mugabe regime are pulling the country back in time to the dark ages. Now the answer to fuel shortages is ox drawn carts! South Africa’s Business Day newspaper reports that Zimbabwe’s government has embarked on a plan to resuscitate agriculture. The plan involves the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono setting up technical colleges to produce ox-drawn carts and ploughs to help communal farmers produce food.
Ox drawn carts and Mugabe take Zimbabwe back to dark ages

Here's a photo I found some time ago. It shows how things were and will be.

Thanks to the Professor

Here is a Letter from Zimbabwe by Kathy Buckle.

Mwindaji* -- The Last Hunt

The young hunter soaked in the scenery with wide eyes and an open heart. He would be leaving Tanzania in a few weeks and this was probably his last hunt. He must use this opportunity to absorb visions and memories to take with him when he returned to the U.S.A. He didn't want to go.

The young hunter and his elder hunting companion had obtained permission to hunt in a controlled hunting area bordered by the Manyara Game Park and the Tarangire Game Reserve. This was wild country filled with more exotic game than the areas they usually hunted. Even though their licences allowed them to hunt only more common species, and they were primarily after meat, encounters with members of the BIG FIVE were likely and would be exciting. Along on the hunt as observers were members of a family visiting from the U.S.A. who wanted to experience the chase.

The hunt was proving to be everything they anticipated. Almost. They encountered a rhino family. Father, mother and baby burst from the underbrush and after pausing to stare at the Land Cruiser full of exotic two-legged animals, charged noiselessly through the heavy vegetation. They came across leopard spoor and smelled the strong smell of lion. But one thing was lacking. The young hunter had a bad case of "buck fever" and couldn't hit anything he aimed at. His goal was to get a reed buck and a warthog. He had several shots at reed buck but missed every time. A huge warthog broke into the open, a warthog so huge that everyone thought it was the baby rhino returned, but the young hunter missed his shot.

As the day passed, the hunters decided they had to get meat. The young hunter had an impala on his license, so when they came across a small herd, he crept up as close as possible through the high grass and took his shot. This time he was successful. It wasn't a trophy buck, but it would put meat on the table.

The older hunter knew he would have other opportunities to hunt and chose to give his younger friend the best shots. As he drove slowly through the long grass, the Land Cruiser dropped into a hole. It took quite a bit of digging and moving planks around to get out.

As the day drew to a close, the hunting party began to work their way back to the road to Arusha. Suddenly, the vehicle began to go in circles no matter how the steering wheel was turned. A stump hidden by the tall grass had broken the steering rod. It was dusk and they were stranded in the bush.

The older hunter took a panga* and hiked out to the road. The young hunter stayed with the Land Cruiser and the young American family. He tried to keep the visitors from being afraid. This was more adventure than they had planned on and the wife was quite nervous.

The young hunter built a fire with the only dry wood available, some rotting palm tree sections. It wasn't the best burning wood, but it did make things seem somewhat more comfortable. He resisted the temptation to tell the Americans the old hunters' tale about how a fire will keep every animal away except the rhino which has an unexplainable urge to stomp out fires. That might not be too reassuring to them after seeing a rhino family nearby earlier in the day.

As the night passed and the unwilling campers had finished off their picnic basket from earlier in the day, the night sounds of Africa became louder. The chirping of bugs dominated the sounds. It was as if there was a bug singing for each bright star in the clear African sky. Then came the sound of monkey's screaming in the distance. That's not so common at night. The monkey sounds seemed to come closer.

Then the young hunter heard a muffled cough. He remembered the fresh leopard spoor seen earlier in the day. Leopard were in the area. Leopards liked to eat monkeys. Monkeys screamed when attacked by leopards. How could he sneak a rifle out of the Land Cruiser without explaining his uneasiness to the young family? Now he had to reassure not only the visitors that things were safe, but himself also.

He heard more muffled coughs. They were very close. They sounded like they were on the other side of the Land Cruiser. Then the mother opened the door to the Land Cruiser and the coughs got louder. She reached into the vehicle and brought out her son who was coughing. The young hunter relaxed, glad he had not said anything about his interpretation of what he'd heard.

Shortly after midnight a light appeared coming from the direction of the road. The older hunter had succeeded in finding a ride to Arusha and had borrowed a Land Rover to come to the rescue of the stranded hunting party. He loaded up the American family and the game shot that day and took them back to Arusha. The young hunter stayed with the Land Cruiser. The older hunter would bring a mechanic to fix it the next day.

Morning came and the young hunter thought he should use his time well while he waited for the mechanic by, what else? Hunting. He knew reed buck were in the area and he had another opportunity to get one. So, he began to work around the stranded Land Cruiser, looking for reed buck.

After some time, he caught the glimpse of an antelope darting behind some bushes. He didn't get good enough look to identify the antelope, so he began to stalk it to find out if it was something he wanted. Slowly but slowly he walked through the knee deep to waist high grass, his eyes locked on the bush behind which the antelope had vanished. Quietly, quietly he walked.

And then, suddenly just as he was about to put down his right foot, the grass under it parted and a yellow feline head with black spots streaked from under his foot to his right. The movement frightened the antelope and he sawa female impala leap and sprint to his left.

After the young hunter stopped shaking, he retreated to the Land Cruiser where he waited for the mechanic. He had almost stepped on a cheetah that was stalking the same antelope he had been stalking.

This was truly a hunt to be remembered.

*mwindaji -- Swahili for hunter

*panga -- Swahili for machete

20 May 2007

Mugabe's Accomplices

For a brief introduction to the men who keep Mugabe in power, go to Mugabe's Accomplices and view the slide show.