Good intentions

13 09 2012

There are a number of new publications on offer in Harare. I’m not sure how they all manage to keep going. They list local news, have articles on wildlife and gardening what’s on for entertainment and have a lot of adverts in them. They are not the sort of thing I would buy but I do have a look at them when waiting in waiting rooms and in the magazine piles next to the toilet. There’s a monthly newspaper too called The Suburban (or something like that). It’s free so I do pick up when I see it. There is a lot of news on, well, goings-on in the suburbs and the last one was heavily focussed on the issue of informal suburban cultivation of which there is plenty at the moment. Anyone who can claims a piece of unused land at this time of year and cultivates it in preparation for planting maize when the rains arrive in November. It really is an eyesore but nobody until now has done anything about it.

It seems that the Minister for the Environment has taken it upon himself to pass a law making cultivation on the wetlands around Harare illegal. I didn’t give it much thought until today when driving past a local wetland, or vlei as they are known locally, when I saw a number of signs up in already cultivated land proclaiming NO CULTIVATION. Good intentions indeed but I will keep an eye on this to see if it is ever enforced. I suspect the signs will disappear and it will be business as usual.

A few weeks ago when driving back to work around midday I came across a fire that had just started by the local golf course. It had jumped the road and was well into the old maize land around my premises. It raged through that and was  so fierce that thermals were ripping off around my house some 800m distant. I heard later that the golf course had been fined some $200 even though they denied having anything to do with it. A small sawmill on the same premises as my nursery had timber burnt and they too were fined for not having a fire extinguisher even though it would have been utterly useless against that sort of blaze.  So maybe the environment lot have some teeth. Or maybe it’s just a case of catching whom they can.

Two days ago the smoke was so dense from all the bushfires that I could look at the sun at 4.30 p.m. quite easily. There is a lot of room for improvement.

The season of dust

29 08 2012

Dust dry

Dry. Dust-dry. It is the season of dust.

Blown mostly for it is the season of wind too but it also drifts. Wafts. Dust skrits and grits under the computer mouse like finger nails on a chalkboard. A patina on all horizontal and even vertical surfaces dulling the pictures in the office. Brown finger prints on the paper in the printer. Brown stains on shirt collars. Brown coagulated snot blown into the toilet paper.


It piles on the cables under the desk discouraging pulling of electrical plugs. It is dry. Dry like the skin that scales and itches begging for moisture relief from a plastic bottle. The bush is dry too, begging desperately for rain that is still nearly three months away. It has to wait, patient and stark, stripped naked and scorched by fires that rage by day and glow at night.

Dust gathers and settles silently – day and night.

Feet no longer footfall but plopf soft in the talc dust. Paws kick up a trail of dust behind the running dog. Bicycle tyres lift a miniature upside-down waterfall of dust. It gets into the car through ageing seals, clogs air filters. It obscures the sun. It is everywhere. Insidious. Creeping.

It is the season of dust.