What scares you more? A cane fire or a cane cutter?
It was late afternoon. The sun was nearing the end of her day time shift and almost resting her belly on the horizon of the Mafambisse sugar estate. All was still and calm.
In an instant, the flick of a single match became a raging fire, gorging itself on anything in its path.
I wanted to show my kids the ‘might’ of a cane fire. I raced off to the far side of the estate and arrived in mid action.
In minutes the dusty sky had been consumed by thunderous black clouds that would pump out hot ash. The frenzied fire beneath would leap in all directions; exploding, crackling and spitting with fury. It was all very exciting.
My daughter, however, was not impressed.
She said to me,’ Mommy – just look at that naughty fire. It’s burning our sun!’
I looked up and she was right. The flames had risen tens of metres high and seemed to curl around the sun, devouring her. After 10 minutes of trying to explain that the sun was also in fact made of fire – a ball of fire – I was met with a ‘clearly mom has gone mad’ kind of look. Her solution to the problem was that we’ll just have to use Daddy’s torch tomorrow.’ Needless to say, when she woke up this morning, she was pleasantly surprised to see the sun still shining!
The Cane Cutters
Every morning they arrive at work at 5am when the sun is still gentle and the dew has settled the dust. They work tirelessly until the field is flattened and all that remains are piles of burnt sugar cane.
I’ve got to be honest, I was a little unsure of the response I would get today. Would the cane cutters welcome their photograph being taken? It seems they are very sure about photographs – it’s either a definite yes or no. And they have a reputation not to be messed with! So I tread lightly, as lightly as I could with a big bag of oranges in tow!
I was pleasantly surprised though and felt welcome on their turf. I’m glad I ventured out to the cane fields today – because it was yet another lesson for me. They may look a bit scary with all that soot and black smeared over their faces like warriors – but once you take a minute to talk to them, to find out their names and a bit about this laborious job they take on every day – they open up like a flower.