By Doris May Lessing
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Additional info for African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe
They had been given impetus by a frothy notion called the Central African Federation, which aimed at uniting Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia. The idea of this Federation appealed irresistibly to large numbers of idealistic souls, nearly all white. Yet it was attempting to unite incompatibles. The two northern countries were British Protectorates, and their black populations actually believed in promises made to them by Queen Victoria, that their interests would always be paramount, that their countries were to be administered for their good.
Their chief difficulty was the same as in all new black nations. They did not have enough people trained in administration, though Southern Rhodesia had done better than most, particularly in agriculture, for Zimbabwe began with a good number of already trained black agricultural workers. That is one reason why Zimbabwe, unlike the black nations that surround it, feeds itself, and has healthy surpluses which it is proud to sell to South Africa and to donate to famine areas in the Horn of Africa.
Lying in our blankets under the trees on the sandveld of Marandellas, or in the house on the farm in Banket, the shrilling, clamouring, exulting of the birds as the sun appeared was so loud the ears seemed to curl up and complain before–there was nothing else for it–we leaped up into the early morning, to become part of all that tumult and activity. But by the 1980s the dawn chorus had become a feeble thing. Once, everywhere, moving through the bush, you saw duiker, bush buck, wild pig, wild cats, porcupines, anteaters; koodoo stood on the antheaps turning their proud horns to examine you before bounding off; eland went about in groups, like cattle.