Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop / IWSG hop: The Scream …

 

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 ….

 





African Savannah - with a road
running straight through
… they were in the ‘middle of nowhere’ literally – Southern Africa to be precise – but determined by their entrepreneurial confidence to build on …

 

 


… 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.



Upland Savannah

… 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 …

 

Murmuration

 We can quietly progress without Shrill Screams … let us do so together …


 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

50 comments:

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Wonderfully inspiring Hilary. Loved the anology between the screaming train and the screaming of the South African, and all colonised Africans. Thank you.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh yes, that was wonderfully put together to draw out the analogy for a future! YAM xx

Joanne said...

Excellent use of the one eye and the "progress" that screams. Good twist to the tale. I like the idea of quiet murmurs as we move forward. You always have a way with words, and bigger picture ideas.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wonderful. Love the quote from the Matabele chief. Each culture sees "progress" differently. I wish humanity could respect the opinions of others and stop imposing our views. Innovative and information - great job!

Debbie D. said...

This is such a wonderful piece, HIlary! 💖 And, I love the quote from the chief describing the train. Much food for thought here. 👏👏👏

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Wow. That's really a great piece. All the screams that go into exploiting a continent...

cleemckenzie said...

Fantastic! The screams were all too vivid, and I loved this unique, historical take on the theme this month.

Elephant's Child said...

This is wonderful Hilary. I recently read Dervla Murphy's South from the Limpopo which had a scream on every page. Which I suspect is true of everywhere that has been colonised. And that quote about the train was brilliant.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan – thanks so much … so glad you could see the analogy between the various screams …

@ Yam – many thanks … I’m glad I brought the future in … hopefully sometime soon we can have murmurs in the future – rather than the divisive screams …

@ Joanne – grateful for noting ‘the eye’ – that quote just rang so true … and I appreciate that I seem to have brought attention to our future … a more peaceful state of affairs would help the world so much …

@ Jemi – thank you … that quote came from ‘a family history’ – and yes each culture and country looks at life in different ways. Equally it is not easy to relate to things from another country’s point of view. We really need to look at others’ points of view from their point – not from ours.

I always relate this thought to which way up my hand is – I’m from one side – the palm up, yet the challenge comes from the back of hand … so I need to ‘see’ where those people are at …

@ Debbie – thank you re the Matabele quote – it just bemused me and made me laugh, yet of course realising that those who live in those countries in the 18th century and Victorian era were mistreated by ‘invading’ peoples …

@ Rebecca – thank you so much … yes it dawned on me about the screaming lines of coal-steam engines, let alone the electric ones of today from the Asian countries.

@ Lee – so pleased ‘the screams’ spilled out across the airwaves … grateful that you realised the historical take on the theme …

@ EC – I must look into Dervla Murphy’s (cycling) travel books … she looks to be a very interesting author: thanks for the introduction. The quote is just wonderful … so I’m pleased you and other commenters appreciate it appropriate for this post.

So wonderful to have your supportive positive comments – they are great to read and makes writing the post so worthwhile. Cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Great job, Hils.
Cheers,

Liz A. said...

Screams and shrieks. Apt metaphor.

Olga Godim said...

Sometimes, we only do damage when we want to bring progress. Your piece raises many questions, but doesn't supply clear answers. We have to come up with the answers ourselves.

Lenny Lee said...

Wow! Loved your historical take on this challenge. The chief's quote was perfect. Great to hear his take on the white man's engine. I like how you pulled everything together to work together towards progress.

Hels said...

I love the Turner. But there is an ambivalence about trains, isn't there? On one hand we don't want pristine countryside torn apart, especially by battling colonial powers. On the other hand, travellers and tourists are much happier using trains than stinking buses or petrol guzzling cars.

Denise Covey said...

Hilary, it's wonderful the way you always find a unique take on the prompt. This post resonates. Can feel the sweat on the 'navvies' as they worked the steel in searing heat. I appreciate that 'Africa screamed too … her huge continent being pierced by colonial powers – British, German, French, Portuguese, Belgian and Spanish … and now Japanese, Indian and Chinese...' So many have taken from Africa, so few have given back.

Susan Scott said...

Excellent Hilary, extremely evocative of past present and future!

Keith's Ramblings said...

Absolutely brilliant Hilary! As a lover of steam engines, the one-eyed animal that feeds on fire is a description I'll forever remember!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra – many thanks …

@ Liz – screams and shrieks … so much that was so new to the indigenous populations …

@ Olga – yes I so agree, we think we need to give them progress through imposition … but now in a world which is so connected … we need to let peoples live with their own cultures and ideas – so we can learn from their history and knowledge of their own land.

@ Lenny – great to see you today … I so appreciate you being here and commenting. Delighted you enjoyed the chief’s quote – fun isn’t it. I do hope today we can be kinder to others’ thoughts and ideas, letting their world come to the fore – without being ‘naysayed’ along their journey of knowledge.

@ Hels – yes I was pleased the Turner could fit into my ‘story’. Trains still feature heavily around the world … the bullet trains – they’re not going away, especially as they take the transporting of goods off the road – essential in this crowded isle.

@ Denise – many thanks … actually you’ve made me think – where were the rail-lines made … were they shipped to the Cape – or made down there interesting I’ll need to find out … ISCOR the great parastatal steel company was only founded in 1928 – now part of the ArcelorMittal Group – an Indian owned organisation.

I’m sure Africa screamed as the lines were pushed this way and that across the continent … I hope that there’s some benefit – which the peoples/country have/can/will have benefits they can build on.

@ Susan – that’s great: thank you … it made me smile and think … backwards and forwards …

@ Keith – oh so pleased you enjoyed the quote – it’s brilliant isn’t it – I too will forever remember … especially as it’s family connected. Enjoy your steam engines …

Thanks everyone – so good to see you and receive your positive comments. Cheers Hilary

Pat Garcia said...

Very well said! I often wonder will mankind ever learn. Will our eyes open and our ears become unstopped to screams around us. For the sake of progress, many people lost their identity and their culture, and especially in Africa.
Shalom aleichem

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It was so alien to them and so invasive...

David M. Gascoigne, said...

The scream of indigenous people has reverberated through history as colonial powers (i.e. whites) took over their land, derogated their languages and customs, made them strangers in their own homes, and marginalized them in every way possible. The invention of the steam train, really sealed the fate of so many as their land was taken from them to further the expansion of the railway. These monsters, spewing smoke and rattling the very ground they travelled, brought more while settlers to confiscate land, despise the ancestral inhabitants and spread disease. It is a sad legacy that we have to be dragged kicking and screaming even to acknowledge it, let alone make some attempt at reconciliation and compensation. Often the Church was complicit in genocide too. As always, Hilary, yours is the blog that makes us think!

Yolanda Renée said...

I knew you would come up with something unique and wonderful. This is beautiful! You always provide such interesting and educational posts!
Love it! Well done! Hi, Hilary!

Jacqui Murray said...

Well said. It is like a scream, especially when it wants to stop.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Totally love the unique way your mind works and this utterly out-of-the-box use of the prompt, Hilary! You always give us thought provoking and superbly informative posts, this time you've beaten your own record. Just loved the analogy of the locomotive and that of the agony of colonised peoples...brilliantly done!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I love how you made the storyline align with your blogging style!

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Bloody great post

retirementreflections said...

Brilliant and Powerful!!
Wonderfully written, Hilary!

Stephen Tremp said...

Huya Hilary, These days I abhor the sound of screaming nothing ever good comes of it. Maybe I need a vacation.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Pat – yes … will mankind ever learn – we don’t seem to. Yet it’s been happening for centuries, and probably millennia. Each generation seems to think ‘they know’ – but we really should know in today’s age – as there’s so much more information available: we need to learn from history …

The loss of culture and knowledge that’s being lost or destroyed is very sad …

@ Alex – yes very alien and overwhelming – with no understanding …

@ David – we still hear that scream of indigenous peoples – you’re so right – we derogated so much. The steam train once invented was wanted by so many, including other local areas and people here in the UK and Europe …

There’s so much for us all to learn about … if we can be humble enough to do so … and appreciate others’ cultures. I really appreciate your comment here …

@ Renee – many thanks – I’m just very grateful to have appreciative supporters here – so pleased you enjoyed this ‘take’ on the prompt …

@ Jacqui – yes, I’d really forgotten about the squealing scream as locomotives come to a slow halt.

@ Nila – thanks so much – gosh a wonderful comment. Once I read about the Matabele chief’s quote – it was so right for this prompt … funny how things come about.

@ Sharon – good to see you – thanks for your comment.

@ Jo-Anne – thank you …

@ Donna – so pleased you enjoyed the post …

@ Stephen – good to see you again – so much screaming going on around us now … I hope you can get your vacation.

Lovely to see you all … and thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment – cheers Hilary

L.G. Keltner said...

You've knocked it out of the park with this one. I like how you've described the scream of the train and the scream of Africa. This train is a powerful symbol of colonialism and the pain that followed. Well done!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Hilary!

As always, you delve into the past and come up with an interesting piece of history. Yes, the SCREAMS of mankind advancing forward. It would be wonderful if mankind could do so without tearing apart the beauty that is our earth...well done!

Jemima Pett said...

Oh, what a wonderful way to paint Africa.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Laura – thanks so much for your positive comment … and appreciate that you ‘can see’ the link to colonialism and the pain that occurred.

@ Michael – great to see you … and it would be just brilliant if we could have peace on this earth …

@ Jemima – thanks … great comment – I hadn’t looked at it this way.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments – cheers Hilary

D.G. Kaye said...

Excellent article for this time of the month Hilary. I loved this "quietly progress without Shrill Screams." It would be lovely <3

Steph W. said...

A fascinating piece. My husband is South African and I am always looking for pieces of the history to absorb. I never considered the railway to be one of the many ways Africa was ripped apart.

Damyanti Biswas said...

The screaming train and the screaming of the South African, and all colonised Africans--you took the prompt to a completely different place, Hilary.

I wish there was indeed a way to move forward without the screams. For all of us, together.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debby – thanks so much … it’s not an easy subject to address at this time in our history. But I too do hope we can quietly progress without too many Shrill Screams – we need to calm ourselves.

@ Steph – thank you … my mother’s brother lived out there and my father’s family had a lot of work out in Southern Africa – and I enjoy the learning … especially having lived there for 14 years in the late 70s – early 90s. So I hope you can find some interesting books to help you appreciate / understand the history of Southern Africa …

@ Damyanti – great to see you – finding the Matabele chief’s quote inspired me … it was just finding the way to draw the post together. I’m very happy it jogged people’s thought processes.

Gosh – I so wish we could live happily together especially if we’re in disagreement, and also we need to respect others’ cultures – I so agree with you.

Thanks to the three of you … take care and all the best for the week – cheers Hilary

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hilary
I love the description of the train. 'Screams!' Thinking of those old trains that is exactly how they sounded. I enjoyed your story.
Nancy

A Cuban In London said...

Yes, let us work together. :-) Beautiful and inspiring post.

Greetings from London.

Rhodesia said...

Wow this brought back some memories for me, our 1953 Drive from Bath to Rhodesia will never be forgotten and I have so much to thank my parents for with all my memories.
The large animal that screams with one eye reminded me of feeling my first ever earth tremor in Johannesburg. I had just started work at the horse hospital and I was with the head guy there. A very large and delightful Zulu whose name escapes me at the moment. The whole building we were in shook violently and I asked what it was. His answer was, God is angry with somebody and he is shaking the world to remind us we have to be good. I very soon learnt that the many mines around Jhb were the cause of the many tremours I felt over the following years.
Thanks for this post I enjoyed it. Keep safe,cheers Diane

Pradeep Nair said...

Nice one! Those steam engines, all said and done, looked breathtaking and majestic, didn't they? I guess world over they have been replaced by electric trains.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nancy – so pleased you like my description … and exactly those early locomotives really screeched along, didn’t they …

@ ACIL – thank you – and we do need to work together and be civilised … there’s no point in screaming at each other …

@ Diane – that’s wonderful some of those memories came back … especially of that trip – crumbs that’s some way … Bath to Rhodesia –

Oh yes – I remember those earth tremors in Johannesburg – they rocked and rolled us a little – I never was aware of them during the day, but at night … my bed certainly shook.

Your ‘Zulu’ – sounds a perfect guy … what a fun comment and so appropriate – thanks for adding it in to your reply here.

Delighted you enjoyed the post …

@ Pradeep – thank you … in India – you will have had the same sort of locomotives as your railway network was built.

I think electric trains must be everywhere – almost now …

Thanks for your visits – great to see you all – cheers Hilary

mail4rosey said...

This opens up a lot of thought and gets me thinking with different perspectives too. You are very talented with your writing. I'm here to wish you a wonderful day.

Kalpana said...

That was such a great read Hilary and I particularly enjoyed your interpretation of the prompt to mean the scream of a steam engine. Fabulous piece of writing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey - thanks so much ... I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post and the way I write - a lovely compliment ... thank you. I'm having a good day ...

@ Kalpana - so pleased my interpretation of the prompt was enjoyable ... it makes me happy when I think about it!!

Thank you so much to you both - cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Many wonderful phrases here. 'Shimmering mirages. Golden orb baked the earth, and much more.
Cheers,

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Sandra - good of you to comment on aspects in here ... cheers Hilary

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

That's a wonderfully evocative post, Hilary! Wow!

DMS said...

The words you wrote created very clear images in my mind. You really made me feel the words.
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mike - thanks ... I enjoyed writing it up ... tearing across the soul of Africa - it's difficult to think of today's age without trains with their far away destinations.

@ DMS - delighted you could feel the heart-wrenching tears as those locomotives carved through continents and countries.

Thanks so much the two of you ... I love and appreciate the comments. Cheers Hilary