Vegetables aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think of an African Safari. Wild animals, ancient trees and bushveld thunderstorms are perhaps more resonant with this much used term and yet the more I look at it, the more I believe that vegetables should be one of the instant connotations of an African Safari.
Recently I watched a documentary called ‘The Coconut Revolution’. After falling victim to the profit driven motives of a massive mining conglomerate, a community of people on the island of Bougainville, south of Papua New Guinea, found their beautiful island being ruined by excessive mining. As would most people, the islanders retaliated in defence. Over the years, a bush war ensued in which their island became blockaded, forcing them to exist in true harmony with their environment in order to survive. To say that necessity was the mother of invention for these islanders is a complete understatement….
To begin with, each family became responsible for growing and tending their own vegetable gardens. This gentle immersion forced them to truly understand their natural world. Out of this simple step the islanders grew to develop homeopathic bush medicine, generate hydroelectric electricity by combining waterfalls and derelict engines as well as to find a thousand and one different uses for the coconut. In fact, more interesting than the use of coconuts to make bowls, soap, lamp oil, nutrient rich drinks, baskets, clothes and musical instruments was their ability to derive high grade coconut oil which could run their motorised vehicles.
What I find most inspiring about this story was the sustainable solutions that these people sought and accomplished. It was my high school geography teacher who told me to “Act local and think global”. I believe that this style of thinking is the groundswell momentum that signified the success of the Bougainville people and will give traction to the rest of the planets achingly slow movement towards sustainability.
At Londolozi, we believe that taking a leaf out of the Bougainville islanders hat is a great start to being the change we wish to seek in the world. By creating vegetable gardens in our staff village and empowering our staff to create vegetable gardens in their own rural villages, we all take one step closer to living more sustainably. We move towards being self-reliant and away from engaging our commonly used systems that are detrimental to the planet.
As with Bougainville, we wish these vegetable gardens to be the catalyst for developing a trend towards living in greater harmony with nature. A harmony which works with us and a harmony which allows for the necessity of lessening our impact on the planet to drive invention further and further down the track.
So next time you see a small vegetable garden on your trip into the reserve or go on a visit in the rural communities that border Londolozi Game Reserve, take cognisance of the first small steps that are being laid to fulfill a much greater vision that will benefit all.
Written and Photographed by: Rich Laburn