Kalemba had become fascinated with my little idiot box – not always the best subjects, but still, it did leave a record of sorts that would not have been there had I carried the thing.
We came across this little compound late one afternoon. I am (through Kalemba) listening to their accounts of what was going on in their stretch of wilderness. As I might have mentioned in earlier postings, such bush dwellers, especially the ones like these, that live their semi-nomadic lives in the remote wilderness, are wonderful to meet up with and spend a bit of time gossiping about the local bush situation, and sometimes a great story too.
This family will be leaving for a new location soon. The thatch of their single hut is almost gone and won’t keep them dry through the next rainy season; the mud plastering on the walls has been eroded at the bottom and the wooden frame will soon be overwhelmed by the white ants – and they are not inclined to repair it. The bush around them have been depleted of protein anyway, and all the nutrients the little patch they are cultivating had held have been extracted. It was time to load their few belongings onto their heads and leave for a new location, some thirty or forty kilometres away.
I wrote in my diary that evening: It is hard for you and me, with our identities so woven into a home, facilities, a job, stuff we need, a neighbourhood, a community, a country, to get our heads around their frame of mind. They have none of that. Their home, their neighbourhood is the bush – anywhere in the bush. Their facilities are the trees, the streams, the game, the soil they find where they go. Their job is to live. The only time they know is now. They probably can’t name the country they live in. It’s irrelevant anyway. They have learnt to live with joy, with sadness, with gain, with loss, with death. It happens around them all the time. Any of it may happen in the next moment, but the next moment is not this moment. This moment is all that counts. It is now.
It saddens that there are fewer and fewer of them, because there is less and less bush because there is more and more money that brings more and more things that need more and more money. It saddens me that they have to learn that time is not just now; that there are other places, and things, and money. It breaks my heart because they will begin to believe that they need to be like us, and they will have lost the simple joy of just living.