The high ones were furnishing food for flocks of locust birds flying among them and gobbling up locusts as they flew. Locust birds are big storks that fly to Europe in the African winter and build their nests on chimney tops.
One year there was a famine in Northern Rhodesia, due to weather conditions, and in order to feed the students at Rusangu Mission the missionaries sent carts out into the surrounding villages and bought up bags of dried locusts that the people had collected for food.The missionary men also took their rifles and the mission lorry and went out to shoot Cape buffalo, a very dangerous animal. I remember hearing about one old bull who was wounded but just kept charging the shooters and would not go down. The men lined up side by side and fired and fired until finally that buffalo fell down and died just a few yards from his enemies.
The carcasses were taken back to the mission on the lorry and the students had locusts and wild buffalo as their food. What they could not eat while it was fresh, was cut into strips and hung out to dry and was known as biltong. It could be eaten dry (uncooked) or cooked. While drying there were swarms of flies crawling on it but somehow the students never got sick and enjoyed their meat.
We have all heard of African killer bees but they were not common. Once at Rusangu Mission a swarm of bees went wild and drove everyone indoors, but the poor chickens out in the yard were badly stung and many died. At Helderberg College near Cape Town there is a mountain nearby where a student was once attacked by bees and as he fled he went over a cliff and died.
On Fridays the missionaries would go over to the dormitories to inspect and see if they were clean for the weekend. I remember going with my folks and noting the fragrance (it was NOT Glade) in the air in the dormitories. It was the smell of cow manure, which had been smeared on the walls and floors of the rooms to protect the mud surfaces and keep dust from forming. It was the job of the young women to go out to the kraals and collect the material and apply it, and was typically used in village huts.There is a well-known bird in Zimbabwe, the grey lourie, that welcomed my dad to his first sermon at Solusi Mission. It is called the “Go-Away” bird because of its loud and very clear call to go away. As Dad was preaching, the bird sat outside the church and loudly advised him to “Go Away!”
On Friday nights there would be meetings at the church and all the students would be there. How they could sing, in harmony and happily! Usually there would be a testimony session and everyone would stand together among the pews and each student would make a brief testimony. Up above were oil lamps hanging from the ceiling to provide light and speeding around them would be bats, eating the insects attracted by the light. The windows were open to keep things cool. – DALE
(next up, Part 4…)