Back to the Basics
Masauso Zimba is a waiter at Shenton Safaris and has pretty much worked with us since the inception of the camps. What is even more fascinating is that Zimba’s ancestors used to live in the area that the park is now located in. It is wonderful to hear him explain things as we drive through certain areas of the reserve. How and where they used to live – coexisting with the animals.
The knowledge that comes from a person like Zimba of surviving in this environment is profound. One of the most valuable things that was taught to him was how to make fire. As we all know fire is a necessity, as without that you have no light for the evenings, nothing to cook your food on or the warmth during the winter months.
Zimba is proud to show us how they used to make fire with wood pieces and dried up elephant dung. It is quite a lengthy process and is certainly a work out!
Zimba, along with his assistant James, demonstrated for us how to make the fire. Zimba uses a thin stick which rests in a grooved out hole in another piece of wood, which is usually Natal Mahogany. He places small amounts of sand in the hole and the dry elephant dung up against it. Zimba then spins the stick with his hands causing friction.
You get so drawn into watching the process unfold and get so excited when you begin to see little wisps of smoke rising up from the wood. It’s such a fine line between success and failure. The dung has to be just right. The speed at which you need to spin the stick needs to be for as long as possible. Just when you start seeing smoke you sometimes need to break for a breath and reposition and start over!
Then, just when you start doubting this whole process, a little spark hits the elephant dung and we have fire!
If you ever come over to the camps to pay us a visit and would like to get back to basics and learn the traditional way of making a fire, then Zimba is your man. Zimba also has amazing stories to tell if you have the time to listen- this could be done around your fire with a drink in hand, listening to the sounds of Africa.