Bush Technology

Journeys back.

As the semi-nomadic family groups that roam the remote wilderness are left behind and more settled villages are encountered, so are more creations of man. But these are, of necessity, simple and from the land, like this sled, so proudly presented by its owner and maker.

It has been fashioned from the trunk of a large tree by no more than an axe, a machete, perhaps a saw. It gets drawn by two oxen with a yoke, the one end of which can be seen in the centre of the sled, with its connecting chain. Along the edges of the sled, holes have been burnt and into these upright stakes have been driven to increase the load capacity.  The oxen that pull it are trained like horses, steered by a thong running through a hole made in their septum and used to ride and haul.

Here, whatever is used to support life, needs, in turn, to be supportable by the environment; ideally from the environment – pots from clay, mats and baskets from grasses, huts from poles, crushed anthill and thatch, tie-downs from tree bark, fishing rods from bamboo or suitable saplings…

Villages are far apart, typically situated on perennial rivers or lakes, and hard to reach – often on foot only, sometimes by canoe or perhaps bicycle, rarely by vehicle.  Villagers live from the land – mainly fishing and survival agriculture. Axes, machetes, knives, shovels and picks, sometimes saws are common but anything more than the most basic mechanics or any electrical or electronic apparatus quickly become inoperative, because it is not sustainable by the bush and the capabilities of the people that live there.

Life here, if left alone, is simple, slow, for the moment, harmonious and happily carefree. It has been like that for hundreds of years, protected by inaccessibility. But tragically, “civilised” influences are seeping in, and with it, uncertainty and disharmony and discontent and sadness and irony.

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