Everywhere was green — as far as your eyes could see.
Green where there was dry, dusty sand and stones.
Green against the mountains that have been dry for years.
Green Kameeldoring trees, heavy with leaves, all the way from the far reaches of the Kalahari in Namibia to Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
Green more than a foot high along the roadside – for at least 1,500 kilometres.
A year ago I traveled the Kalahari (that extends for 900,000 square kilometres, covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa) by road and experienced the dryness of almost seven years of drought. I was caught in a dust storm in the Northern Cape. I could hardly see the road ahead.
Skulls and skeletons of buck and sheep alongside the road that died in the drought.
What a difference water makes.
The water came from the rain that flooded parts of Namibia. A tropical storm, a low depression over Mozambique, moved west over Zimbabwe and towards Botswana, then proceed to Namibia and the Northern Cape.
Towards the end of last year the livestock must have sensed that the rains would come because the number of lambs and calves were plentiful.
On a farm in Namibia we went for walks in the evening and saw the aandblomme. These flowers bloom in front of your eyes before the night sets in. The aandblomme last only one night – the next day they lie dead.
The suurgras (on which sheep and cattle feed) rose rapidly during our stay. Plenty grazing in the months to come.
Walking out in the veldt you notice all sorts of small plants sticking out of the Kalahari red sand. Green shoots appearing everywhere. The wild grass knee-high in places swaying in the wind before the next downpour. The insects crawling all over the place – centipedes as thick as your small finger, dung beetles scurrying about and mosquitoes – tiny little black and white creatures coming out in the humidity searching for flesh to penetrate and suck blood. Vultures hovering and gliding in the sky looking for prey.
I’m very pleased for all the farmers who are benefiting from the rain.
The tragedy of the drought is not over. It will take years to restore the livestock herds they had before the drought.
One could say that farmers are entrepreneurs but that is an inadequate description. They go beyond entrepreneurship mainly because of their love of the land, the people who work for them and their livestock or crops.
The rain has broken the drought – and I hope a new cycle of regular rainfall will begin.
The green in the Kalahari signals new hope for everyone who lives there and makes a livelihood from this isolated but beautiful large semi-arid sandy savannah.