We had an old log at the back of our garden. While it added an element of charm, I thought I’d enjoy it more on my verandah, as a table! And so I began to enquire about ‘Sawmen in the Nchalo area.’ It would be an easy job no doubt. Just one log. Switch on the machine and slice it up like piece of paper.
I was given a number for a Sawmen by the name of Jofrey. I called him and he said he’d be there at 6am the next day. He gave me a daily rate and we agreed. He’d bring his friend too, Luca.
It was going to be another scorcher. We were in our 3rd week of temperatures reaching the mid forties. The rains were late and Al Nino was in full force; sucking the countryside dry of all moisture. Plants drooped, baked alive by the soil and the trees seemed to bend as the relentless ‘Midday Sun’ leaned all it’s weight on tired branches.
They arrived at 6am sharp. Between them, they both carried a long saw and a small bag of tools. But no machine.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
― Phil Jackson
Very quickly, I was reminded that machinery is not a given thing, especially in Malawi. Here, they do things the old way. Sawing up an old log would take days. I watched them in awe, sweat dripping down my face as I pressed the ‘shoot’ button on my camera while standing still.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.” – Vladimir Nabokov
“What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Back
4 days later, I had 8 hardwood planks. I paid them and invited them back for another job. They accepted gladly, seemingly unfazed by the scorching sun. This month they’d be able to pay rent and school fees on time. And I would have a beautiful table.
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost: the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring, renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” – J. R.R. Tolkien