They waited under the forest canopy in the early morning light. Samson had already taken control. In his red Adidas three stripe track suit, wrap around shades perched on his domed shaven head his hooded eye radiated authority. He paced about the bags piled on the elevated lawn in front of the old Ruo powerhouse. A small group of men were beginning to stack up roof sheets and floorboards against the whitewashed wall. The rest stood apart. There were several hundred of them. The youngest looked down from the road snaking up into the lower reaches of the Ruo Gorge whilst a few women looked up from nearer the river. The majority stood, restless, in a circle about us. They talked amongst themselves. More packs were brought from my car and added to the pile. Tents, clothes, some tools, and food. When we were ready Samson addressed the crowd.
Word had travelled around both Gambeya and Ndaonetsa villages that we were going to restore Minunu hut, a cabin at the top of the Ruo Gorge. The hut, abandoned by its watchmen, had been ransacked, and near destroyed several years ago by poachers. High winds had lifted off the roof. The floor inside had been stripped , revealing nothing but bare, black compacted earth. The walls and the ceiling were charred from fires lit in the centre of the room. The concrete fire mantel had fallen away and the only furniture left were two burnt bedframes.Continue reading “Minunu Hut – A restoration”