I thought about my grand father today. He arrived in Rhodesia many years ago (1892) as a young boy. The family farmed on a farm called Mooifontein.
During the mid 1890s a disease called the Rinderpest swept through the country. This was a terrible disease because it simply killed the cattle. Many farmers lost all their herds. The virus swept through the country and impoverished many, many farmers. There was no recourse in those days for farmers to be able to complain about the speed of the government’s actions or have access to a prime minister who could promise swift and speedy action.
I thought of my grandfather, William George Hamman, when I saw the poor farmers who have had their herds wiped out. The farmers are under real pressure with the unrelenting exposure to the media. To watch one’s livelihood being killed off must be real agony for the farmers.
In the late 1890s my grand father, then aged eleven years old, along with a fifteen year old African companion, set off to walk from Rhodesia down into South Africa. The journey on foot was just over 1300 miles. Their task was to bring back disease free cattle to help build the herd up. The two boys walked down into the Free State and returned months later with a small herd.
Why were the boys sent off on their own? Quite simply there was no one else to go. Cattle in those days, just as today, represented income. Without income a farmer’s hard work is wiped out.
It was easy for me to respect my grand father.
Equally I am sure that in years to come the grand children of many of our eleven year olds will be just as proud of their grand parents.