Musing on a view

12 02 2010

I was up early this morning, drinking coffee and enjoying the view from my verandah as the sun rose. On a clear day I have the best view in Harare – 70km to the Great Dyke in the north west where we fly paragliders on the weekend. This morning was such a morning and there was valley mist over the Mazoe Dam. The morning is the best time of day in Africa; it’s cool and fresh and the birds are about. My neighbour, Charles, has a view of vegetables and mielies (maize). He is one of the black managers on the farm where I rent my house and cannot understand why I don’t want to see mielies for a view. He is not an oddity – it is common to go past a very smart house in the suburbs and see a garden with a large patch of mielies growing. Goodness knows, the owner certainly can afford to buy the mielie meal if he wants to at a fraction of the price it costs to grow the crop – that’s why there are commercial farms that grow it (not too many left in Zimbabwe though).

The previous tenant next door was a white guy who also enjoyed the view so when Charles moved in he moved in a tractor and had his garden converted to production. I was wondering why the whites tend to enjoy the view and the blacks prefer to gaze at crops?

As European descendents us whites tend to feel secure with a view. In days gone by we could watch for the invading hordes which in the country now called England would have included Celts of various descriptions, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Scots, Norse, Italians (Romans), French, Dutch, the odd armarda and the German airforce. And that’s just England. Invasion has been part of European history for a very long time. In Zimbabwe this has not been the case. Mzilikazi used to send impis (raiding parties) to raid the Shona for cattle and women but they were small parties and a view would not have been a lot of use, and besides, there is little water to be found on hilltops in Zimbabwe. Far more important would have been food security. Before Zimbabwe became a country (Southern Rhodesia) it was colonised by the whites but this was an “invasion” of the subtle kind and a once off affair. The grand irony here is that the Europeans introduced maize to this country and it is poorly adapted to the endemic droughts.

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9 responses

12 02 2010
Big Blister

I dunno that I agree with your anthropological take.

The acropolis at Great Zimbabwe has an excellent view of potential marauders, and I also recall seeing remnants of mountaintop fortifications on mountains like Ruuinji and at Nyanga…

Perhaps the enjoyment of a view has more to do with socio-economic status that has become entrenched for whatever reason?

12 02 2010
Stephen Clarke

Always wondered about the little “fort” on the very pointy summit of Ruuinji (spelling?). Early warning sentry post watching for Arabs/Portuguese/Matabele? Or more recent, perhaps a Selous Scout OP. Great spot for it.

13 02 2010
Big Blister

I haven’t been up Ruuinji since about 1966 when we made a special expedition up there, complete with “rum, pemmican, and chocolate”. I recall being disappointed there wasn’t a fort on the very top, tho there was one on the shoulder ridge. So perhaps the one on top is more recent, or I remember incorrectly…

16 02 2010
Stephen Clarke

If there is one regret about leaving – and there are many small griefs, it is not being able to explore more of those blessed (and I’m not being facetious in using the word blessed) summits across the Eastern Districts – places of mystery, beauty, layer upon layer of history, the chance encounters with wildlife, trees oh the trees – I thrill just recalling it. So many to explore, so few bagged. Thankfully perhaps I was too young to have fought on them like Andrew’s generation but even knowing that part of history adds to the atmospherics of those places. Lots of stories to be told. Did you ever go up Gurungui?

16 02 2010
La Canadienne

I agree. You really do have the best view in all of our friends. Coffee good too; and I agree, Dawn breaking, birds, slight breeze scented with whatever’s blooming, the fresheness of a new day.

I also agree that we Whitie do seem to like nature; Blacks seem to like other things, in part maize. In part Satellite dishes;

I miss it so much. even though we do have nice dawns and nice sunsets here in Ottawa. But one of the real blessings of Harare is the proximity of both city & its cappucinos, and country with its quiet and sunsets/dawns.

Hope the time will come soon when we can all go home…even me.

16 02 2010
Big Blister

No I never went up Gurungui but gazed at it with awe and mystery from across the Honde Valley – still have a photo of it that I love. I walked/scrambled up many peaks with the Mt Club of Zim – have forgotten more names than I remember.

The one that still grabs me is (I think) Mpande. A sheer rock dombo rising up at least 1000 ft from the plains of Mocambique and visible from Nyangani on a clear day. Totally impressive! Apparently the Mt Club did climb it in the early 70s

By the way, my legs were probably deemed too short to go to the very top of Ruuinji so I don’t really remember that at all…

16 02 2010
Big Blister

I found that mountain (unnamed) on Google Earth. Due east of Nyangani and between Roads 102 and EN1. Close to Gorongosa. Pretty impressive!

17 02 2010
Stephen Clarke

I do remember seeing it. Often obscured by haze or smoke but stupendous.

I was dragged up Gurungui by Gary Goss – tough as a stick of biltong – unforgettable.

Ruuinji was pretty ledgy so legs of the longer variety would have been useful.

Those big dwalas could be tricky. Easy to go up, plenty of friction and grips but turning around to come down, my word, could be another story. Inching down on your tightly clenched backside until you wore a hole in your boxer shorts!

17 02 2010
Big Blister

Yes, down is often a problem. So much further to fall, it seems. I have similar problems on my mt bike…

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