An essay on drought
At one time or another in school, we all got that composition exam paper with a list of essay topics, and there, right at the top, it would be (again): Drought. Did anyone ever choose to write about that topic?
Our parents and grandparents had it even worse: in their day they had no choice. It was drought… or fail.
Yes, in the old days drought lay deep in the nation’s psyche, creating a buzz almost like a Twitter war today.
Ironically, South Africans now seem more resigned about news of drought conditions, even while the country finds itself amid the worst drought in years. You hear even informed people who declare after the first rain shower: “The drought is over.” Or, worse: “The drought is old news.” This while farmers have not sown and we have to import instead of export maize. This despite entire villages not having a drop of water and emergency supplies having to be trucked in daily.
Here in the Cape we nowadays don’t even mind the notorious southeasterly wind, because it might bring rain to the north of the country where it is so desperately needed. (On the day we sent this issue to the printers we heard that the West Coast region has also been declared a drought disaster area.)
It might betray our age, but if you browse through this issue of Platteland you’ll notice that the issue of drought crops up in a number of places. There is, among others, Elise Tempelhoff’s “Thinking out loud” column on page 15, the article about Winterton (page 20) and the one on Vredefort Dome (page 36). It wasn’t planned; it is perhaps because one hears almost daily that Africa – and yes, South Africa too – will only have it worse in future.
One ray of light is the story about scientist Jill Farrant and her research into resurrection plants, which seemingly die in times of drought but then revive after the first rain. Read her fascinating story on page 62 – and let us know what you think about it.
Here at Platteland we don’t like to see plants wilt or die because of drought, and we’ll never stop looking for ideas to save water and, most importantly, to use it responsibly. We all have a duty to do this.
As long as we do not have to write an essay on drought again any time soon.