26 November 2020 – The Third World as Seen from the Saddle. Of goats, mix-ups and the need to help those less fortunate.

I was called upon to save a goat yesterday. Granddaughters Jocelyn and Cailyn rushed into my office first thing and told me that if I didn’t do something quickly, the goat would end up in the pot. Now this was my first-time hearing that there was a goat on the farm. Apparently, the goat been on the farm since Saturday, living in a piece of bush next to Joce and Cailyn’s house and next to the seedling nursery. But the girls had seen some of the workers eyeing the goat out hungrily, who was eyeing my seedlings hungrily. Because I am hugely not fond of goat meat, even though I am fond of goats, ditto my seedlings, I leapt into action.

But because I figured your average goat to be more-nimble footed than me, first I had to find two assistants to assist with the goat capture. Kajevu, my gardener was my first- choice assistant, because I know him to be fleet of foot, especially when I’m looking for him to do something. My second choice was Ailack, the builder’s assistant who was the only other person in earshot. Ailack has obviously been around the block a few times, and had most probably captured many, many, many goats previously in his life.

Before we commenced the goat rescue, we quickly discussed tactics. First, we would surround the goat, and then we would rescue it. Job done, too easy! Being three, we advanced on the bush containing the goat, with Joce and Cailyn cheering us on. Well actually we advanced being three and a half, because Cailyn, having decided that although she was an avid goat fancier, she was also quite scared of them, grabbed my hand like a limpet and refused to let go.

We got the goat visual. I could tell straight up that he was a boy goat on account of a set of horns on him that wouldn’t look out of place on a bull moose, plus the huge pair of pendulous testicles he was sporting. Although having looked at photos of the animal, I could be exaggerating, about the horns, not the testicles.

Round about then, the wheels started coming off. The horns caused Cailyn to ramp up her fear of goats and she started dragging her feet, creating a goat-sized gaping hole in our advancing cordon. But luck was on our side, and the silly goat backed away in the direction of steadfast Ailack, poised to leap with legs spread wide and arms spread even wider. He looked like a crouching tiger, sort of, if you have a good imagination. Tension mounted. The brute eyed Ailack menacingly. Ailack never flinched and continued poised to leap. The brute made his move. But unfortunately, Ailack didn’t! Instead of leaping, Ailack just carried on crouching, and the goat ran through him, quick like a prune through a child.

Now you’d think that dragging a huge pair of pendulous testicles along behind would slow an animal down, but not that goat. If anything, the pendulous momentum from all the toing and froing helped him to hit top speed quicker. Why they don’t race goats instead of horses, I do not know? I hot footed after the goat, past Ailack who continued crouching, just in case the goat was stupid enough to double back. Hot footing might be a slight exaggeration, because I was dragging a seven-year old along at the time, a seven-year old fairly keen on not getting too close to the goat we were trying desperately to catch.

Kajevu was on his own, not far behind the goat. He cried out for help. The morning cut flower harvest was in full flow and the fields were full of workers eager to assist. I think they were also eager to get the goat in the pot. I started to panic. But not to worry. The goat jinked, dodged, and side stepped ten, twenty, thirty workers, through the top sections of flowers, past the grading section, through the junior staff compound, back past the grading shed, back up towards the main gate, back down from the main gate, towards the workshops and beyond. Having jettisoned Cailyn, I eventually caught up to the proceedings with the brute cornered by my house, with nowhere to go. This time there were 10 in the cordon, plus me and Joce. We advanced on the first goat. The goat weighed up his options.
Unfortunately, I was his option. He’d learned from his encounter with Ailack that near geriatrics are most often the weakest link and he went through me quicker than he’d gone through Ailack. Unfortunately, Cailyn arrived just in time to watch me not leap on the goat. Now aged 7, Cailyn has been at big school for a year and still she can’t spell empathy.

Next stop for the goat, and for a sizeable chunk of the labour force was Chegutu; via the ornamental nursery, the middle sections of flowers, the workshop again, the bottom flower sections, the neighbour’s farm, and his neighbour’s farm, and so on.

Joce, Cailyn and I watched the goat on the distant horizon, getting smaller and smaller, with Kajevu and just two other workers in lukewarm pursuit. Alas, we’d most probably never see the goat again I told Cailyn, who managed to look sad and relieved at the same time. She worried that the goat would still end up in the pot. I had to agree with her. Times are that tough in Zimbabwe, a goat passing through with any meat on him, even tough meat, would have the life expectancy of a lemming halfway down a cliff.

But I told my granddaughters that to almost rescue a goat is better not doing anything at all. And at least we tried. Next time, we’d save something slow, and without horns, like a tortoise.

Zimbabwe is a tough place to survive, not just for goats. Lives are cheap. It wasn’t always like that. As a child, I remember the whole country praying as the 1972 Wankie Coal Mining Disaster unfolded. I remember the whole country mourning the miners lost and coming together as one to support the Disaster Relief Fund launched by the then President.

Fast forward fifty years, and fatal mining disasters are a dime a dozen and most don’t even make the national headlines. For example, two weeks ago, a goldmine collapsed in Esigodini and 6 mine workers were trapped underground. The mine owner immediately packed up her equipment and ran away. Ten days later and still no rescue operations had been launched, as in nothing. When approached for comment, the National Police spokesperson was unavailable to comment, because he was attending a virtual traffic meeting.
And more of the same last week when a Chinese company in Penhalonga was accused of deliberately collapsing a shaft in on half a dozen or more illegal miners. And as I write, another 40 gold miners in Bindura are trapped underground. Day in, day out people die trying to scratch a living from holes in ground. Alas.

Small wonder, in amongst all of that, a lonely old pensioner, aged 77, was able to almost starve to death in the middle of Harare’s leafy northern suburbs, without anyone noticing or lifting a hand to help. Thankfully, I am able to use the word almost. A good Samaritan took time out of her busy day to help an old man she did not know. Her helping hand came just in time. The good Samaritan found the man lying on his bedroom, unresponsive. He’d fallen the previous day. She broke a window to gain entry and rushed him to the doctor. He weighed just 36 kilograms. The trousers hanging in his wardrobe were size 42.

I am shocked to my core that the old gentleman was left to fall through the cracks. Zimbabwe is a village. Our politicians do nothing, so we are on our own. We are supposed to have each other’s backs. God bless the good Samaritan for reminding us how.

On a related matter, I continue in awe of Bruce Fivaz and Dave and Diedre Simpson who are on the last leg of the Old Legs South African Tour, riding from Clanwilliam down to the finish line in Lambert’s Bay. Bruce, Dave and Diedre have been pedalling for 25 days non-stop from Durban, over every mountain pass in South Africa, to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners., Bruce is my hero and should wear his underpants on the outside. Aged 75, he continues to coin the phrase ‘You are never too old to do epic.’ Big respect and salute for C.J. Bradshaw for making it happen, and for Ryan Moss for capturing the spirit of the Tour in his bogs and in his photos, and for Matambo for doing the hard yards in the support vehicle.

Back in Zimbabwe, the Old Legs Tour continues to put the monies and awareness raised to good use. In the last 2 weeks, I can report that we’ve been able to help a pensioner with an emergency prostate operation, an ex-soldier with an operation to a fix a very badly broken arm, another ex-soldier who requires 24/7 oxygen but can’t afford. Thank you to the hospitals and medical practitioners who sharpened their pencils and or worked for free. We helped Ida Wewako old age home in Marondera with clothing and second-hand readers, we’ve helped New Hope Home in the Honde Valley with farming packs and more second-hand readers. We received our first pre-loved Kindles and are busy trying to get them loaded with books. Sorry to Dennis who is waiting eagerly, currently he is re-reading the few books in his library by candlelight, but I do technology like Ailack does goat capture. And for sure, the Old Legs will continue to help the old gent who nearly starved to death, hopefully nudging others to also step up.

In the U.K. the Old Legs Tour and Round Table One are very proud to partner Dave Orner ex-Chipinge, in his ‘A Pint for a Pensioner’ initiative in which people are encouraged to donate the cost of a pint of a beer per month to the pensioners. I love beer, because I’m a long-distance cyclist who knows how important it is to rehydrate. I especially love the idea of beer being a vehicle to help the pensioners. We will do what we can help ‘A Pint for a Pensioner’ go viral in a world that continues crazy.

In a week where Rudi Giuliani’s hair-dye ran in front of the world’s cameras, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated the St. Vincent and the Grenadines for holding free and fair elections, he voiced his concerns about dodgy elections in Myanmar, and he told the world the US would transition to a second Trump term, despite Biden having smashed the popular vote and the electoral college vote.

And still President Trump refuses to lose. Because he lost by less than one half percent in Georgia, the Trump campaign called for a recount, not just once, but twice. Which is like looking behind the couch in the lounge for missing DSTV remote again, and again, even though it wasn’t there the first time you looked.

Meanwhile back in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF Patrick Chinamasa has already declared President Ed to be winner of the 2023 Presidential Elections. And in another about turn, the War Veterans Association of Zimbabwe have said they are on standby to return sanctions against the British and the Americans. If that comes to pass, I think it means that neither Boris Johnson nor Joe Biden and / or Donald Trump will be allowed to fly to Zimbabwe to do their shopping in the future.

And more upside down in the world of sport. Because the All Blacks were beaten by both Australia and Argentina, I can’t talk rugby, and will instead talk netball. In South Africa, provincial champion wannabees the Mpumalanga Sunbirds were penalized 43 goals for fielding too few white players (and no, that is not a typo) in their game against the Kingdom Queens. The Sunbirds had been leading 43-42 but went onto lose 42-0 after disregarding racial quotas.

What a mixed-up world we live in. I am happy to report though that happy endings do happen and that the goat lives on. Kajevu returned to the farm an hour after we’d last seen him disappearing over the horizon foot sore but triumphant, with the goat in tow. Now you would think that being saved from the pot would engender a certain amount of gratitude in an animal, but not the goat. The brute still had enough left in him to almost emasculate me with his horns, much to Cailyn’s horror and amusement. Cailyn continues ambivalent towards the goat who will live a pampered life happily ever after in her garden, unless his real owner pitches up to claim him. At which point I will either be charged with stock theft, or I will be called upon to pay an extortionate amount for a foul tempered goat with pendulous balls.

There is already a warrant out for my arrest, not for stock theft, but for voluntarily assisting pensioners. I have been asked by Round Table 23 to report to their jail at the Tin Roof on Saturday the 5th where I will be sentenced to beer and hard labour, until such time as I raise bail through donations. Please help by using the bank accounts listed below, using my name as a reference. Alternatively, you can pay extra to have Round Table keep me in prison.

In closing, please raise a glass to Mike Mullin, a gentle, nice guy gone too soon. R.I.P. Mike. You have left a big sad on our hearts.

Until my next blog, most probably from maximum-security at the Tin Roof, enjoy, survive and be kind to others.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.
Photos below- my fellow goat rescuers and the goat, my warrant of arrest and wanted poster, and R.I.P. Mike Mullin.

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