Answers to Africa Quiz #3

Well, you surprised me.  I never thought you’d figure out this first one, but Sue, Lindy and Sandy know poop when they see it.

can1. The can attached to the bumper of the jeep contained elephant dung.  It is set on fire and acts as a VERY effective mosquito repellant.  So glad we didn’t have to rub it on our skin!

Is there no end to the number of uses for elephant dung?  With so much of it around, you might as well find a way to use it!  I was continually impressed by the inventiveness and creativity of Africans.P1090276


2. This is the sink in the ladies’ room at Phalaborwa Airport.   The water bubbles up from holes in the sink’s surface.  All you have to do is turn that brown knob on the right to get the water going. WE probably never would have figured that out, except a local lady happened to be washing her hands while we were there.

P1070005And what a cute airport Phalaborwa is! A South Africa copper mining town, it appears to generate enough revenue so the government can afford to make the airport quite lovely and comfortable, with great animal sculptures.

Note that not ALL airports were like Phalaborwa.

Maureen and Jeanne at the "airport" on our way to the Okavango Delta.
Maureen and Jeanne at the “airport” on our way to the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

What you see in the photo above is what you get– a landing strip and a little shed with ax, fire extinguisher and stretcher.  Oh yeah, and a few huge termite mounds.  Did you notice the big one on the right?

The airport for Lufupa, the Zambian camp, was a bit larger–it had TWO structures.

The bathroom is the smaller structure on the far right.
The bathroom is the smaller structure on the far right.

3. The connections among these objects?  The mopane worm feeds on those leaves, which are from (no surprise) the mopane tree.  The worms are a delicacy, so much so that they are featured on the coins of Botswana.P1100359

Hey, before you get all judgmental on me, remember,  we eat lobsters and crabs–and don’t even get me started on that rubbery stuff we call calamari!

But don’t think that we were just eating worms and warthogs.  Check out this feast…I mean snack.

Our 3:30 PM "snack" before the afternoon game drive.  Can we make it till our "sundowner" break at 6:00?  What about dinner at 7:30?
Our 3:30 PM “snack” before the afternoon game drive. Can we make it till our “sundowner” break at 6:00? What about dinner at 7:30?

4.  The  Nobel Peace Prize winners were Chief Luthulu, Archbishop Tutu, De Klerk, and Nelson Mandela.

At Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, CapeTown
At Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

The long flights, plus time spent hanging in airports, gave me ample opportunity to read all 600+ pages of Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.

What an incredible man-to be imprisoned for 27 years and still be able to forgive his captors because he knew that was the only way for his country to heal and to move forward.  He makes our red/blue, right/left, Democratic/Republican disagreements look so very petty and silly.

Travel is such a broadening experience.  Seeing how far South Africa has come since apartheid and comparing it to Zimbabwe under Mugabe further underscores Mandela’s greatness and the power of forgiveness.   We could learn so much from Mandela.

Tutu in front of a photo of Mandela, at St. George's Cathedral.  Cape Town.
Tutu in front of a photo of Mandela, at St. George’s Cathedral. Cape Town.

5. Cecil Rhodes managed to accomplish so much during a rather short life time. P1110234
Although he died before his 49th birthday, Rhodes amassed quite a fortune from his success mining diamonds. Some noteworthy accomplishments: He bequeathed the land that became the Kirstenbosch Gardens to South Africa, he got the bridge over Victoria Falls built, he established a trust that funds Rhodes Scholars, oh yeah, and he did manage to get a country named after himself (Or was that TWO countries?  What is now Zambia was Northern Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia.)

Time to take a break from Africa and move to another continent.  Hope you’ll come along!


Touring Africa via the movies

To me, travel consists of three almost equally delightful phases:

  • Phase One – anticipation and preparation
  • Phase Two – the trip itself
  • Phase Three – recollection – reliving the experiences through photos and the memories imbedded in my brain.

Right now I am deeply into Phase One, learning as much as I can about the countries we will be visiting, and how best to prepare for the trip itself.

OAT, like Road Scholar, sends an excellent package of preliminary materials.  These include what you need to know about the climate, what to pack, visa requirements,  necessary immunizations, currencies used in each country, plus a list of books and movies for us Phase One enthusiasts.

Not surprisingly, the movie list included Born Free, Out of Africa, Gorillas in the Mist, the African Queen, Hotel Rwanda, many of which I had already seen.  One title I had never encountered was The First Grader, produced by National Geographic Entertainment.  It tells the story of Maruge, a former Mau Mau warrior who went to school for the first time at the age of 84.  Even though we aren’t going to Kenya, it still is about Africa, and the movie intrigued me, so I borrowed the DVD from the local library.

first grader

What a wonderful movie!  It is actually two stories.  The first tells of Maruge’s determination to take advantage of Kenya’s offer of free education for all, and the obstacles he had to surmount to achieve his goal.   The second, through flashbacks, chronicles the Mau Mau uprising in the early 1950’s and the British brutality during that period of colonialism.

I’m so glad I got the DVD because it includes “bonus features”: a short documentary starring the real Maruge and Teacher Jane, interviews with the director, and a peek behind the scenes while the movie was being made. I enjoyed these bonus features as much as the movie, and after watching them, I appreciated the movie even more, because as indicated by the interviews and documentary, the movie didn’t embellish or invent — it  just told Maruge’s  story.

The movie was shot on location in Kenya, using an actual village school.  Only one main character, Teacher Jane, is British.  The rest are Kenyans–some are actors, but the children are all the students at that school, and the “movie” villagers are actual villagers.  The kids are truly amazing!  They had never seen TV or movies before, so they were just going about their normal activities, doing what the “teacher” (the director) told them to do.  One sweet little girl was instructed to go over to Maruge to ask him if he was okay.  When he responded, she said “when I grow up, I am going to be a doctor so I can make you feel better”.   The director wisely kept this unscripted exchange, but because they spoke in their native language, he added English subtitles.  Uplifting?  Definitely.

How I could have possibly missed the 2010 movie Invictus is beyond me. It was nominated for multiple awards, was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.  But I did.  Again, my local library came to the rescue.  This was another thoroughly enjoyable movie and for the other 10 people on the planet that also missed it–here’s what it’s about: Nelson Mandela recognizes the healing power of rugby.  The Springboks, South Africa’s team, represented apartheid to the black majority and when Mandela came to power they argued that the name and the team colors should be changed.  Mandela not only persuaded his countrymen to retain both, but he also actively supported the team in the 1995 world cup competition.  This is another uplifting movie about the triumph of the human spirit, and the healing nature of forgiveness.

Movies that didn’t make the list, and at least in MY opinion should have are the two The Gods Must Be Crazy movies.  Filmed in Botswana and South Africa, they tell the story of Bushmen encountering the oddities of the modern world.  Sweet, funny and thoroughly entertaining, it is also available on HBO.


As you may have suspected, I have a weakness for uplifting, feel good movies!