Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Two posts in one - Announcing Blog Action Day
I have, I realise, gone completely bush mad. There’s a nice, but very rude expression for it in Afrikaans, but aware of bloggy sensibilities, I won’t use it here – it’s translatable enough for anyone to understand!
However, I’m that bushmad that I’m trying to get back to the bush. And what I’m wondering is, why has it taken me so long, and literally on the eve of our leaving SA for the Wet and Soggy Place, for me to discover the bush. Perhaps it’s because South Africans just take the bush for granted. We know it’s there, so you know, no big deal. But it is a big deal. It’s an awesome deal – that sheer magic of being out in wild nature is just irreplaceable. I would wish for every single one of you to experience it. And by experiencing it, I mean going out and actually walking in the bush - the real bush, where the lions and elephants and impala live.
As for getting back into the bush, I considered an African swansong – Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean/Zambian border (staying in Zambia) and Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana. But the thing that really grabbed me by the throat (and totally out-budgeted me) was the cost. Hideously expensive. I’m utterly staggered at the price of safari holidays, at how much private lodges and hotel chains charge for accommodation per night – never mind the airfares and airport taxes, park fees, activity charges etc. There are some people who are making a lot of money out of all this.
And here’s the rub. While hotel chains and private lodges are creaming it, the people who work for them and the people who live in the immediate environment remain horribly poor – often living below, on or just above the poverty line. It’s no small wonder that service in Africa is berated as being awful. How, after all, would you like to work for some fatcat serving “wealthy” tourists, when you don’t even earn enough to put food on the table. At the Victoria Falls curio markets, stallholders will barter goods – clothing, children’s clothing in particular, shoes and pens are all gratefully accepted as currency – because they are so unaffordable and so unavailable.
And this brings me to the next element of this post. Blog Action Day. It’s on the 15th of October this year and the topic is Poverty. I think I’m pretty well placed to write about poverty given it’s all around me. I’m hoping to rope D in to co-write with me, as an ex academic (socio-political theory) and well-published in his own right, he will bring extra depth to anything I might have to say.
Do go and check out the Blog Action site and sign up to participate. If you feel you’d have nothing to say, and I find that hard to believe! the site gives a host of ideas and suggestions for post topics on the day.