My First Real Night in Africa – "This is the change I have seen"
At the kraal – the moonlight is shining through the vents of my tarpless tent. I can recline and see the stars while still protected from mosquitoes.
I just sat on a log with Dickson, the head herder, and the experience is vivid in my mind’s eye.
He is cooking sadza on a teak wood fire. As the the water in the pot starts to sizzle, ashy smoke stings my eyes, but I keep my place. He is a sage. The red from the fire gives him an other-worldly countenance, and above his head, the Southern Cross sits like an aura, pointing to the well grazed vlei we just returned from.
Ten hours walking with 500 cattle and 100 goats and sheep over rocky hills and through head-high grass, a baking sun with with only the occasional cloud – I’m tired and dirty. I want a bath, which won’t be forthcoming, so the sweat and dust will stick like a second skin.
It’s hard work, but it’s necessary, and in the near future, many more of us will be doing it. I’m glad I’m learning from the best.
When Facebook no longer tells us how many friends we have, we’re going to wonder where our food and water comes from.
Dickson told me he’s seen the land and the water improve over the fourteen years he’s been herding here. There is less bare ground, less "cracks" he called them. The grasses used to be in "patches – here and there", he says, moving his hands from place to place. Now the land is covered, he continues, with a smile, and the rivers run clean – no longer muddy.
"This is the change I have seen," he says.
"This is what I am saying."
[Dickson cooking dinner at the camp]