Monday, October 4, 2010

The Burning of Africa

During the months of August through October, people burn the land and much of the tall grass that exists, even in the towns. The fires are set and allowed to burn in many cases without anyone watching the fires. They burn around the houses first and control that (out in the country) but just let the fires burn throughout the night.

We were returning from Church in Phuthaditjhaba and we saw the fires buring along the road and over the entire mountain range. Because it is so foreign to our experience we took some pictures along the way. EPA would have a field day with all the pollution but it is accepted here as something that is natural. Notice that there is no one around the fire line.
Here is what it looks like after the fire has passed through. Many of the trees don't make it and are killed in the process but notice that the fire has gone up and over the mountain (as well as the ones in the distance).
Some of the tall trees survive but everything close to the ground is burned. However within a few weeks you will see the grass starting to grow and within a month or so most of the black is covered with green grass. The tall grass is used for thatch on the houses and it is gathered in June and July for the most part.

The fires are very hot in some places. In the towns the fires are set and just allowed to burn along roads. I never would have believed it and the first time we saw it in Newcastle, I was shocked

It burns in both directions, against the wind as well as in the direction of the wind.