Friday, 23 December 2011

Caravan Chat - A Discussion with the Second Oldest Caravanite

Written on the 10th December,2011

‘The whole idea of going to COP doesn’t make sense if we don’t negotiate with nature.’ ‘So how do we do that?’  l ask after hearing such a sweeping statement. ‘ We negotiate with nature by leaving activities that disturb it and nurturing those that encourage it.’ 
This was a statement that Mzee Charles made when l spoke to him about his experiences as the second oldest caravanite.

Mzee Charles right in the middle of Thundering Drums
I am finalizing this story as we go through seriously winding and somewhat bumpy narrow roads on our way to Morogoro.

‘You know,’ Mzee Charles raises his right hand to emphasize his point. ‘Catastrophes don’t have boundaries. COP has lost its sense that we were trying to arouse as we protested on the streets of Durban.’ He then reminds me of Japan and the catastrophe they went through even though they are an industrialized country. ‘It didn’t matter that these people have industries and a lot of money. When natural catastrophes come, they strike the poor and the rich alike,’ he insists adding, ‘These countries should remember that, when they say no to binding deals.’

Caravan Chat - A Spooky Tale from Our Travels

Written on 10th December 2011

Iringa, Tanzania. Courtesy of
A few minutes ago l was sitted next to the driver and catching up on stuff as he drove us to our lunch spot in Mbeya. I got back to my sit to catch a few winks only to realize sleep had eluded me. I then decided to write this piece.A story is told about the power company in Iringa; a strange story that started last night because someone ‘had to show us’ where the graves were.

As you travel, you might have noticed power lines that run along the road. This is a story about those lines.
Now in Iringa there is a story that a power company tried to run the lines over some graves where some old men had been buried. It is said that the power on those particular poles didn’t work no matter how much the technical people tried. And many of them tried. Get this, the power poles that followed the ones on the graves worked just fine.

Caravan Chat - Where Art Meets Science - Part 2

Written over a period of days starting 2nd December 2011, past midnight at University of Kwa Zulu Natal

A few days later in Zambia as we head back home…

Art at its best
Banda is an award winning well known artist in Zambia. To say that Banda is animated is to seriously underestimate his nature. He is also an all-round artist is one of the most active members who works with Kachere Studio. I met him in Zambia.

My first impression of him was that he was seriously soaked in his art that he almost looked like art himself. I have spoken to him on a number of times but this morning, we are discussing his art over breakfast here in Zambia, a place where l found that people eat caterpillars. We are at a beautiful hotel that we just checked in with the caravanites in the wee hours of the morning. I am privileged to write this in Zambia as we do our trip out of Southern Africa and into Eastern Africa. Only l didn’t meet him in South Africa, l met him in Zambia when they displayed their art during a caravan of hope ceremony.

Caravan Chat - Where Art Meets Science - Part 1

Written over a period of days starting 2nd December 2011, past midnight at University of Kwa Zulu Natal

The first time l saw them, in late November 2011, in Zambia, l thought, what great creativity.

About Kachere Studio and their Environmental Campaigns

Banda, busy at work
Since their inception in 2006, this team of experienced artists has created awareness on the impacts of climate change through their art. Their art is double edged; it presents both fun and learning, especially for younger crowds. Part of their art has seen them create figures of endangered species that they take round to schools and other outlets in their awareness agenda. They also do a lot of painting on clothe.

I find myself chatting to Alexas Phiri who is not only the lead in this team works under Kachere Studio but also an environmental activist. This studio has been running award winning environmental awareness campaigns called “HIGHLIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH ART” – GO GREEN – “Tiyeni Tibiliwile.” According to Alexas, ‘This is an innovative artistic campaign to increase public and political awareness and understanding of the need for environmental protection and sustainable utilization of our environment, and natural resources.’

Monday, 19 December 2011


'If you are talking about the African economy you are talking about Agriculture,'  Kevin Kinusu

'We cannot claim to have won, the purpose of UNFCCC COPs is not to emerge any group as a winner and another as a loser, but to facilitate the world to agree, and we had an agreement in Durban. Let’s focus on how the agreement can move as a mile in the struggle against Climate Change and its Impacts on our people'...Kevin Kinusu

Kevin Kinusu addressing a session during the just completed COP17. Courtesy of

Written on the 28th November 2011

Potato Council? That is the first thing l chorused when l first heard about the organization that Kevin Kinusu, the program officer represents. My next question was, ‘what does the Potato Council do?’ It turns out quite a lot. We sat for this interview at around 1am as we had some tea in Durban, South Africa. Yes, The Caravan reoriented our work times so that interviews could take place any time.

Genesis of The National Potato Council of Kenya

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback - Organized Chaos Border - Part 2

Part Two
Written 7th December 2011

Beitbridge Border. Courtesy of
So that stamped we go back to the buses and hear that we will leave as soon as we are done inside. Hope rises. It is now past midnight and we are really tired. We wait while some of us get inside the buses to continue with our naps.

Believe me, 5 hours later we were still waiting to be cleared. Problem? There are some manifesto documents that didn't come in copies from the south African border but are needed as a set by the Zimbabwean officials.

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback - Organized Chaos Border - Part 1

The Beitbridge Border – From South Africa Into Zimbabwe
Written on 6th December 2011 at Night

Photo of Beitbridge Border. Courtesy of
Oh my word! Who has been to this border at night? I am talking of the Beitbridge Border that we got into right from South Africa. I can’t believe it. There must be thousands of people at this border a caravanite says a loud to which l readily agree. As far as my eyes can see, there is a sea of both humanity and some very high tech buses.

These people are all coming through from South Africa to places like  Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia among other places. My friend warned me as we started out, ‘Maria, this is the busiest port within Southern and Central Africa if not all of Africa.’ We kept wondering, how busy can it get? Oh! well we are here and for real l have no idea what time we will clear out. The bus queue is so long that l have no idea if we will be here till next week. No l am not kidding you.