Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bush Fire


In August and September, many people in Zambian villages are setting the bush on fire.  People in my village have given me various reasons for why they do this, including to kill snakes and rats, and to help them to find bush game to hunt.  Many of the fires are also started by people burning their fields to prepare them, and then the fires spread to the bush.  I think some people are just lighting the bush fires out of cultural habit, and because they enjoy doing it.  It looks like every hectare of bush has been burned in Kashitu, the village where I live.  Usually the grass and understory burn, but mature trees survive.

This is fire burning all around my field which I am preparing for growing maize, peanuts and soya.  My field is not burning because I dug fire line around it.  We are teaching farmers that they can improve the health of their soil by doing conservation farming, and part of that is not burning agricultural fields.

My fireline was good, and fire did not burn across it. A bit of fire blew over and I had to beat it out with some branches. You can see the line of black in the far end of the field.


Just after the fire moved through, the ground is still hot and smoking.  My sister Ba Guilleni is walking around barefoot with her axe, looking like an awesome wildland firefighter.

I just have to laugh at this, thinking of all the precautions I've seen the burly U.S. Forest Service firefighters in Oregon required to take for any fire, no matter how small.

It wasn't just Ba Guilleni out after the fire.  All the kiddos were out playing and digging and pretending to work.  Here, Ba Changwe is digging in the front with a hoe.  Behind her, Ba Flow and Ba Cholla are beating out a stump that was still burning.


It is hard to get candid pictures of the kids playing or working.  As soon as they see the camera they want to pose.

I think this is a great picture of the kids tough, barefoot feet on the burnt ground. 

After nightfall, the kids were still playing and working by the fire.  Ba Lawrence, Ba Changwe and Ba Flow had just been beating this fire out as it was coming very close to their house.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding photos, Pete! Also, I'm impressed with your laid-back demonstration methods. I would be much more inclined to imitate something successful than to follow orders that violated everything I knew to be true. Nice going!