The African Diary (1)


June 28-30, 2000   



Thursday, June 29, 2000

I  left Indianapolis for Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday, June 28 for the long journey to South Africa via Detroit, New York and the long 14 and a half hour non-stop flight to Johannesburg. I had interesting conversations with a Vietnamese refugee girl studying in Massachusetts who was interested in some of the development projects we are involved in. I had mentioned to her that one of our members Dennis Kosselke set up a non profit organization to help Vietnamese orphans.

On the long flight from JFK to Johannesburg I sat next to a 707 captain flying cargo in Africa for a Belgian firm. He lives in Miami, but commutes to Africa to fly for a month and then returns home. His current assignment was flying in fuel to the interior of the Central African Republic. He also flies shipments for the Red Cross and anyone who wants to get anything reliably delivered in Africa.

Arriving in Joburg about 3:00 PM I was met by Andre van Belkum who had just flown up from Durban and Steve Serfontein. They took me to the south Johannesburg home of Jorge de Campos where I spent the night and got better acquainted with their wonderful family.  At Customs I just had a few questions about a cardboard box that was one of my pieces of luggage. It contained a Pentium computer for elder Kamani Banda in Lusaka. They let me go easily. Johannesburg is truly a world class airport with 747's from many places on the earth all lined up from a long flights from Europe, Asia and Australia...all getting ready to go back home.

Clarissa de Campos

The de Campos’s made my stay very pleasant. Their son Eric was currently at Woodman Camp in Alabama. Daughter Michelle at home is going to ABC for the session starting in January 2001. She is a talented graphics artist and web developer. The children are American citizens. Jorge was born in Maputo, Mozambique and of Portuguese origin. He met his wife Kathy at a Church Festival in the Poconos. So, they have the ability to live, go to school and work in the United States and South Africa. Jorge has worked for IBM for many years and is now a manager for TCM, which does of lot of  IBM reselling. At home also is daughter Clarissa and son Stephen who work at the same place as their father. I was touched by the love, courtesy and closeness that the family members showed to one another. 

It’s cold here!  Much of the vegetation is dormant. Sunset in Joburg is 5:20 PM. and it froze overnight. I must have been somewhat in denial before leaving the Northern Hemisphere that it’s the middle of winter in Africa!  But roses and germaniums still thrived.   

Friday, June 30 , 2000 

The next day I was left with Andre van Belkum for Lusaka and Jorge and Kathy de Campos flew to Portugal to visit his ailing mother living near Lisbon.

Andre and I arrived in Lusaka about 1:00 PM. after a two hour flight on a South African Airways A-300. We were a bit concerned about the cardboard box containing the computer to be donated to Kamani Banda. Our concerns proved true.  As Andre wheeled the box through the Green “Nothing to Declare” line the customs officer directed him into another direction. Andre told me to just go on through and that we would meet on the other side.  Kamani Banda and his son Maki were there to greet me. I had never met them before.  We talked and waited for Andre to come through.  Time passed. No Andre.  I finally went to where I thought he’d be and found him.  He was just finishing negotiating with Customs.  He was assessed $40 duty on a computer that was donated by Dennis Shappard in Indiana for humanitarian use. But, that’s the way it goes. It was still so much less expensive than what a new computer would cost in Zambia. 

First, we went to the Kamani Banda's place of work.  He works at Kariba Minerals where amethyst brought in from mines about 250 miles away is cleaned and sorted. It has a value of about $3200 at this point and is shipped primarily to Hong Kong and India to be made into jewelry. The only other deposit of quality amethyst in the world is found in Brazil. We were given a comprehensive tour of the mineral works.  

Then we set up the computer that I had brought from the United States. We were overjoyed when it fired up immediately, and with the monitor that was purchased in Lusaka all systems worked without a hitch.  To have something dealing with computers work the first time is indeed rare and we were filled with a feeling of fulfillment. 

Later in the afternoon we went to visit the Heifer Project International office in Lusaka and met Kwacha Chisiza, the country director.  I had already been in contact with him and HPI’s world headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Andre van Belkum, Victor Kubik, 
Kwacha Chisiza  (Heifer Project International) 
and Kamani Banda

We are asking HPI to help restore cattle to our brethren living in the Mumbwa area about 100 miles west of Lusaka. A few years they had lost all their cattle to Corridor disease which is carried by the African wild buffalo. Since cattle is often community-grazed,disease spreads rapidly. Ninety-five to 98% of all the cattle in the Mumbwa area perished. It could n be stopped, but there is very little veterinary support from the government. Heifer Project International is an organization dedicated to improve people’s lives and stop hunger by giving heifers to need people. Through a 12 cornerstone process that first includes giving away the firstborn calf to a qualified neighbor, improved animal management, improving the environment and other points cattle is given to improve the lot of needy people. Kachwa Chisezu was very sympathetic to our situation and offered to help work together. We started the process of seeking aid which first the potential recipient’s assessment of their condition.  More about the people will be in Sunday’s report when we visited them.

In this part of Africa, much of the farming is subsistence farming. Our members who lost cattle have been plowing by harnessing their wife and children to pull the plows.  They produce very little this way.  With a team of oxen, however, they can multiply their output and improve their economic state.

Most of our members live in the district of Mumbwa in the towns of Nangoma and Nalubanda near the Kafue National Park. At the moment the area is clear of disease and the herds are slowly building up again. The African is very proud of his cattle, and knows each one by name.

This is a farming area. The majority have grown up there, and have inherited the land from their parents. Their crops consist of maize, cotton and small amounts of vegetables and groundnuts. They do not use fertilizer, and plow their lands using the ancient method of hand-held ploughs attached to oxen. The crops are picked by hand as there are few implements such as tractors. They rely totally on the rain, and we did not notice any irrigation, even though the Kafue River is quite close to where most stay. Crops are taken by ox-cart to middlemen, who in turn take the produce to Lusaka where it is sold, often for double the price they purchased it from the farmers. There is plenty of open space for cattle farming. Apart from a few leopards, there are no predators left.

As evening approached we checked into the Palm Wood Lodge where we stayed.  We invited elder Kamani Banda and his wife Shirley to come over for dinner.  Kamani has a son Maki who is 18, a daughter Tine 17, Joseph 11 and a baby boy Rangana who is about three months old. Shirley's mother is a member who attends the Harare, Zimbabwe church. It was a wonderful time getting to know the Banda family better. 


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