Saturday, December 11, 2010


We experienced the Stone Age again today. During a refreshingly cool morning walk through the African bush, we came upon a lake we'd visited earlier in the week. Today though, the scene was different. It was an exercise in survival for local bush dwellers and also for the fish who lived in the lake. 3 local boys were busy lighting a small fire in the sandy soil beside the lake, manure clods around them. Wet clothes barely clung to their thin, muscular bodies which were glistening with moisture from the lake. Once the fire started, the boys laid a still wiggling cat fish directly onto sticks in the flames. Smoke arose, the boys smiled, the fish died--finally. It's struggle had begun before our arrival when the boys entered the lake and caught the fish with their bare hands as it thrashed around on a primitive hook and line in the water. Still in the lake was an older boy casting a spear into the water from place to place, stalking fish along the lake's bottom where fish were trying to escape the cool morning water above as well as the spear about to take their lives.
The older boy gradually moved through the water and shouted to the others on the bank as he triumphantly raised a fish over his head, spear in the opposite hand. As he made his way back to shore in the thigh high water, the younger boys were already eating their fish, straight from the fire and with their hands. Their search for food this morning sustained them for another day in the bush while the fish gave its life for that purpose.
The older boy returned and proudly showed his catch, after which he returned to the lake and with his strong muscular arms began ripping out water lilies which were growing in the lake. Handful after handful, he tore the large white blooms and glossy leaves from their environment.To us, these African water lilies are treasures greatly appreciated by gardeners. But here these botanical beauties are detrimental to man's survival because they prevent fish from frequenting an area where they grow. People trying to survive by eating fish have no way of being cognizant of a water lily's value and beauty. They only want to eat and survive.
And the only thing which negates this Stone Age experience is the sight of the older boy lighting up a cigarette as he awaits his fish's turn on the fire. Judy and Dave

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