Thursday, March 22, 2012

African Folklore: Why Dung Beetle is So Strong

(A Batonka story) Long ago, Dung Beetle and Butterfly were the best of friends.  They were always together as they went about their daily business.  One day, they were resting in the shade of a tree when First Man and First Woman walked by.

"Oh, what a beautiful butterfly!" they exclaimed. And they stood and admired her for quite some time.

When First Man and First Woman resumed their travels, Dung Beetle said to Butterfly, "Whenever First Man and his wife see you, they always stop and admire you.  They never take a second glance at me.  Am I so ugly?"

"Nonsense," said Butterfly.  "It is only because you have nothing to attract their attention.  Humans admire beauty and strength.  If you were to become the strongest insect in the world, for instance, they would surely take notice of you."

"I could never become the strongest insect in the world!" said Dung Beetle sadly.

"Certainly you could," Butterfly quickly replied.  "Remember, if you make no effort you can expect no results.  But if you try you might succeed."

Dung Beetle decide that she would try.  She went off on her own for a long time.  Dung Beetle tried all sorts of exercises and challenges to become strong. Through continued effort she became very strong.  At last, she returned to her friend Butterfly.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Time of Hunger Predicted

(March 9, Luanda) Angolan agronomist Angolan Fernando Pacheco from ADRA (Action for Rural Development and Environment) is predicting that there will be periods of severe hunger and poverty at the center-south region of Angola as a consequence of prolonged absence and irregularity in rainfall almost throughout the country.   These areas most affected are in the provinces of  Huambo and Bie given that the majority of the local population lives on subsistence farming.

The environmental situation is already creating difficult problems for farmers who live on their own production and experiencing very little profitable return from their crop.

Besides these factors, the agronomist pointed as negative results of the drought as last seasons light rainfall for most of the country, rising unemployment, the breach of contract under the agricultural credit campaign or investment, as well as increased imports of farm products. Another consequence, in the view of the expert, is the emigration of people living in the countryside to the cities, which encourage even more hunger and poverty in certain locations in Angola.

Asked about possible solutions to counteract the current conditions, framework, Pacheco said that "now there is nothing to be done", but the situation requires heavy rains to fall in the near future, because the farmers missed the time to plant alternative crops adaptable to the situation such as corn, sweet potato and cassava. 

Pacheco recommends that increased national attention be given to farmers to assist in the distribution of seed, cars and essential farm implements and serious consideration given to investments in irrigation, though prohibitively expensive. (ANGOP)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Selling Sand For a Living

Sand is an ubiquitous and plentiful commodity throughout the world. But in some villages in Angola the sale of sand ensures a livelihood for many poor families.  The extraction and sale of sand along the river Cambogo in the Kwanza-Sul province, has begun to be a business option that will sustain them. 

The activity of small-scale sand extraction in bucket-sized measures, is carried out mainly by women who have no other means of employment and have a very low education.  The sand is normally sold to other Angolan entrepreneurs who used the sand to make blocks for building construction.

One Angolan mother, Susana António, has been selling sand for three years, but originally found that the activity required for work than what she imagined to do in one day's work.  But due to the various economic difficulties that she is facing, she does not measure the consequences when it comes to getting something for her family. 

Because of the river flow, there is not an abundance of sand along the river-edge.  Instead the women must dive to the bottom of the river and collect the sand from the river bottom all the while facing the river current.  The conditions make these 'sand-gathers' vulnerable to accidents. 

One sand seller said the price of each lot of sand varies from three thousand to four thousand kwanza (USD$31 to USD$42), depending on size of the sand pile that make. Another seller, Julia Andrew, who is six years practicing this activity, the Jornal de Angola said that the money they earn does not solve all your problems, but it helps in feeding and clothing their children. 

For their effort, the women demonstrate their capacity and ability as mother and family leader since they do not have the support of other family members.   The women recognize that this job requires great sacrifice, but the need to ensure the sustenance of the children speaks louder than any sacrifice. (Journal de Angola)