May 20, 2002
Then to Yellow Chicken Campsite and dinner in the dark. The charming camp, in the middle of a huge 40 year-old German farm, is run by a Brit and his wife who was 8 months pregnant. There is a law now that Whites cannot own land but this farmer’s land was grandfathered in because he had owned it for so long.
Soap and towel even…and so clean…and smells so good with candles burning everywhere…and hot water even…this is the nicest camp yet! The girls all have a shower the night we arrive so I decide to wait until morning. On my way I see how two black African guys have to bucket the water up out of the well…then into a barrel a few feet away…then pull it bucket by bucket up into an elevated water reservoir. Then a fire is built in an outside fire burner to heat the water. I stubbornly return to my tent without a shower.
Lessons from an African Bush Camp Operator
Janine and Sarah stayed up and listened to the camp operator who has lived in several countries in Africa over a period of 15 years talk about things he has seen and experienced. He said most people are Christian but most only convert because they are given a bag of maize or a pair of shoes and still continue their own spiritual traditions including witchcraft.
He also said that if a woman gets pregnant outside of wedlock that she has to marry the father of the child. So sometimes if a man sees a woman he wants he rapes her until she is pregnant and then she has to marry him. I don’t know which countries he was talking about here. About AIDS, the locals don�t understand the disease and don’t believe that condoms are of any use-hence the proliferation of the disease.
The operator was particularly adamant about stopping the food and other aid that people get…he believes it keeps them from becoming self sufficient…teaches them to always have a hand out…that it would be terrible in the beginning to withdraw the aid but in the long run it would be better for the people.
In fact an article appeared in the South African Cape Times a few weeks after this in which it was reported that dozens of nongovernmental organizations rejected the final declaration of the United Nations World Food Summit in Rome saying it was “more of the same failed medicine” and would not end hunger.
Distribution of resources is almost impossible due to bad roads, insufficient trucks and buses, a poor public transportation system.This results in 90% of the villages and towns living in isolation having no access to the market and no access to money. One hundred and fifty poorly developed countries are leaning on 25 developed ones. If one figures in the cost of transporting, servicing, warehousing and preserving food, then the cost of a single meal for a refugee in some camp is higher than the price of a dinner in the most expensive restaurant in Paris, one critic has said.
The answer, many are thinking, is a multidimensional approach to the develop-ment of healthy societies: develop regions especially through education; encourage local societies participation in public life including ability to dialogue; observe fundamental human rights; begin democratization and develop interdependence. This will not be easy. It will require new politicians who care about development-not warlords who sew contention in order to retain their own political power long enough so they can drain the country of money and resources.
The camp operator said that he feels sorry for African-Americans who come to Africa looking for their roots…they leave devastated when they discover they have absolutely nothing in common except color…and being black means nothing here because practically everyone is black…so no one is going to greet the black Americans with open arms-particularly well-fed affluent ones and the Africans assume the blacks who come here must be rich or they couldn’t get here in the first place…and we travelers without a doubt are all immeasurably rich compared to the locals.
In the morning as we were leaving I asked the camp operator what the best thing was about living in Africa…the beauty and wide open free space, he said waving his arm out toward the sun rising over ripe wheat..and being able to live the way you want to with no 9-5 job!
Tags: African Continent, Camp, Culture, Expats, Truck, World Watching And Politics, Yellow Chicken Camp, Zambia