Thursday, May 28, 2015

Galloping with Zebras

We stayed in the cottage for one week. Then I went up north on the bus, four hours to Kwe Kwe Town. In that town I called the owners of the Kwe Kwe Game Farm, and they came to pick me up in their small truck.

They were a jolly couple, the owners of this large farm, white people. He wore shorts and carried a big German Shepherd in the back of the truck. She was a brassy blonde, coming into town for a few groceries, and then to pick me up as a paying guest.

He wore shorts. White farmers in Zimbabwe -- they may be all gone by now, but in 1997 there were several thousand -- the white farmers always wore shorts. They had legs tanned from the sun, and trim figures from plenty of outdoor exercise, although my farmer friend had a bit of a gut.

African men never wore shorts. They always wore trousers. Trousers make you a man, not a boy, so they never wore shorts -- unless they were quite wealthy and at ease in the upper reaches of Zimbabwe society. Prosperous African men might wear shorts, and their ladies might wear jeans. But the common African man always wore trousers and his wife always wore a skirt or a dress. I noticed things like that.

But you want to hear how I went galloping with zebras on the game farm. It was a large farm the white couple owned, some thousands of acres, and only a small part cultivated and plowed for crops, the rest was brush and fields of tall grass stocked with game  -- zebras, giraffes, impalas, kudus, gazelles, wart hogs and other creatures. All happily living on the farm.

Sure, the giraffes might have wandered off and broken through the fence quite easily, but why would they want to leave when they had a few thousand protected acres for roaming? And no poachers to kill and eat them.

I saw zebras racing faster than the sun. I got on the horse they brought out for me. I rode with the guide who stayed near me and knew how to ride. I asked for a gentle walker so that I might be comfortable and enjoy looking at the trees and grazing animals.

My horse was willing to walk -- for about ten minutes, but what he really wanted was to run with the zebras, so we had to let him run and me hanging on for dear life, a little scary but great fun, galloping and pounding across the pasture, zebras racing alongside, impalas making impossible leaps.

I stayed with the farmers for several days. They hosted caravans of backpackers and paying guests like me. They loved their big German Shepherd dogs. Picture them in the evening lounging in the living room in velveteen reclining chairs, watching satellite TV from South Africa, dogs at their feet, African help making dinner.

They kicked all the white farmers out of Zimbabwe a few years later. The Kwe Kwe Game Farm is in ruins. The wild game has been shot and eaten, the fences torn down, the irrigation equipment sold for scrap. The people go hungry now.

The people of Zimbabwe would rather starve then take directions from white farmers. 

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