Monday, 19 October 2015

Victoria Falls as it is today

"On 3 October 2014 the BBC reported that “The Kariba Dam is in a dangerous state. Opened in 1959, it was built on a seemingly solid bed of basalt. But, in the past 50 years, the torrents from the spillway have eroded that bedrock, carving a vast crater that has undercut the dam's foundations. … engineers are now warning that without urgent repairs, the whole dam will collapse. If that happened, a tsunami-like wall of water would rip through the Zambezi valley, reaching the Mozambique border within eight hours. The torrent would overwhelm Mozambique's Cahora Bassa Dam and knock out 40% of southern Africa's hydroelectric capacity. Along with the devastation of wildlife in the valley, the Zambezi River Authority estimates that the lives of 3.5 million people are at risk.”[21]"

Victoria Falls dries up!! What a sight to see especially if one has been here before. No rainy mist, no wall of water and no swirling waters rushing through the gorge and ‘the boiling pot’………... This used to be an absolutely spectacular sight! 

 Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that Thunders was part of my middle life. I had the privilege of having to protect the area from insurgents for several years.  For hundreds of dawns I would watch the smoke hold high over the only "jungle" for hundreds, maybe a thousand miles.  Many an evening I would dine at the Hotel and sit quietly at my table whilst a leopard ate scraps on the lawn a few feet away.  It would then retreat into the mist and the hub of human excitement would return to the ventures of the night in the Internationally renowned Casino to which the hotel belonged.

I also remember arriving, tired and dishevelled after spending a night in dense bush 50 clicks outside of 'the Falls'. In the dash to take much needed supplies to our comrades, we had collided with two mombies whilst driving flat out in the thick blackness of the night.  Our journey had come to an abrupt end as we sat the night out being sucked dry by the mosquitoes and a myriad of other blood loving insects.  At dawn we risked life and ... by flagging down a passing convoy on the morning run into 'the Falls'.  We had no time to celebrate even though it was Christmas and the village was in full Party Spirit.  We had a job to do.

That night my comrade and I were ensconced on the only high point in the area.  Several hours into our lonely vigil the fun began.  One of us witnessed the first telling signs of mortar fire being initiated from close to Livingstone town, on the banks opposite and across the raging Zambezi River, directed at 'the Falls' village and the newly built Elephant Hills Hotel.  We waited just a nano second as we both confirmed the sighting and the bearing of the flashes in the dark.  As we heard the distant thud of the mortars being fired I heard my comrade talk into his radio.  "Fire Mission, Troop..."

No-one knew we had secretly put a troop of guns in place to protect 'the Falls'.  They did a few seconds later and all the casinos and hotels emptied to watch the 'fireworks'.

Several days later we were left with a dilemma, how to get back to Salisbury.  Someone procured two air tickets for us on a scheduled flight.  There were a rules in place that said passengers were not allowed to carry weapons nor wear military uniforms on civilian flights.  Those rules were set aside for two of us that flight.

We had  been aboard only seconds after take-off when a mountain of a man came and placed two Castles in our hands.  For the next hour we were plied with beer and eventually sparkling wine.  Even the Captain came aft and shook our hands and then informed the passengers that we must prepare for landing.  To which the friendly giant offered, " Do you still have any booze on board?" to the pilot.

"Yes," came the reply.

"Well, takes us round again," he commanded.  There was a hearty cheer from the hundred or so passengers.  The Colossus was none other than the owner of the airline and every passenger and crew member was either in the Services or married to a member of the Services.  That afternoon we actually drank the aircraft dry.  But they had all experienced the horrors and beauty of modern warfare and the humbling realisation that whilst they slept peacefully in their beds at night, hard men were doing dastardly deeds to protect them.

Unless Corbyn and his ilk have their way, thus it will always be.