Firewood

Craig and //ao

Craig and //ao

Craig and I are fortunate to have a two burner gas stove to cook on. This is a huge blessing for us as it means we can quickly and easily heat water for the essential teas and coffees as well as cook meals. We have a 19-kilogram gas bottle that feeds our stove and so we can last many months before we need to buy a new bottle. This removes the constant concern about cooking for ourselves.
There are very few people in Tsumkwe who have the advantage of being able to cook on a gas stove. This is mostly because they are not able to afford the cost of a cylinder of gas. How then do they cook? They cook over open fires and so need to go and collect firewood. The need for firewood is regular and so the task of collecting it is also regular.
We are not sure of the exact rules concerning collecting firewood, partly because we hear of certain rules and then we see what appears to be people acting contrary to those rules. We also hear different accounts of how the rules need to be implemented as well as how they are being broken by different parties. There are rules about the methods used for collecting firewood “traditional methods” are allowed whereas modern implements, like chain saws, are not to be used when collecting firewood. One thing we do know is that Craig and I are not allowed to collect firewood ourselves to use for cooking. We live in a conservancy area, somewhat like a national park area, and this is the reason for many of the rules that are in place regarding various aspects of life including the collection of wood.
It is now many months since we had any rain. In the last six months we have had no rain at all. Since we arrived in October last year we have had fewer than 10 showers of rain of which I would say half have been significant in that they lasted more than 10 minutes. As you can imagine it is incredibly dry now and so nothing is growing or has grown significantly in months. That coupled with the need for firewood for cooking and also for keeping warm in the evening means that the trees and shrubs are rapidly disappearing. In order to get wood that will burn for long enough to cook a meal requires people to walk further and further afield to find it.1-IMG_20160503_135509
Craig and I like to accompany our family when they go for firewood because it is not something we have to do nor do we need to do it regularly. Yesterday I was out with the girls collecting firewood. It is always a reminder that I would not survive in the bush whereas they would. We scavenge for berries, seeds, beetles, gum and roots as we go. The knowledge they have of their environment always amazes me. We were gone for about 4 1/2 hours and came home with four bundles of firewood. It was hot work and I was ready for a drink and a rest when I returned but it was also fun to be part of the family in an environment where they are truly in their element.

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