An African midlands meander

2008-06-18 00:00

It’s hillbilly country, the D389 between Ashburton and Bishopstowe on the eastern edge of Pietermaritzburg. The road is corrugated by sugar cane trucks, and the dust finds its way into your car and up your nose. This is no Midlands Meander with green fields, white post-and-rail fences and cute green-and-white signs. No one is pretending anything out here. The farms are called Sukkelsrus and Doornhoek; a rusty sign proclaims “Trespassers Will Be Shot”. A few years ago there were rumours of a rhino roaming freely. While this may have been the imagination of a lonely drunken farmer, there are African animals here, unhindered by game fences and private ownership.

It was an exceptionally beautiful winter’s day. A few days previously they had had 60 mm of rain, unheard of in July. The sky was bright, sharp and cold. The landscape appeared a uniform winter yellow-thorn tree country, with Acacia nilotica (the Apple Thorn) scattered around the yellow grass.

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