The sprawling grasslands hovered ahead, shimmering mirages – where the sparse shady trees might be … also hiding the roaming wild animals and locals’ hostilities – yet the need to progress the line: the Cape to Cairo railway in the late 1890s took precedence.
The golden orb baked the earth, globules and beads of sweat oozed from the skin of the men working on the line … from noon to night ….
… they were in the ‘middle of nowhere’ literally – Southern
Africa to be precise – but determined by their entrepreneurial confidence to
build on …
African Savannah - with a road
running straight through
… in 1896 the Matabeles’ crops had failed … so the call to build the railway faster came about … removing the need for ox-wagons to traverse the rough veld …
|An American locomotive|
The inaugural journey through the Cape Province into southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was made, the dignitaries had their steam-smutty ride through the bush … one of the Matabele chiefs commented on seeing the engine:
“It is a huge animal belonging to the white man. It has only one eye and it feeds on fire and hates work; but when the white man pumps it to make it work, it screams ….”
|Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed (1844)|
This heavy-metal animal would stop, go out, get cold … then the white man stoked her up, lit her boiler and pumped … until she screamed, screamed, screamed as she pulled her passengers behind her …
Africa screamed too … her huge continent being pierced by colonial powers – British, German, French, Portuguese, Belgian and Spanish … and now Japanese, Indian and Chinese electric lines shrilly connect the compass points of this great land.
… the screaming continues as we live in today’s age … it would be helpful if we could murmur our way ahead, leaving the shrieking shrills in the past …
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories