The Cactus Patch
Volume 8       September 2005      Number 9

Movies to the Max
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Now that Anne is gone things are very quiet. We also had a four day weekend in the middle of July to celebrate Presidents' Day. This may explain why we've seen a surfeit of movies.

First there are all the remakes: Guess Who (more comic & less topical), Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (more Gothic & less suitable for kids), yet another Batman (also Gothic - but with a love interest), and War of the Worlds (much too scary for kids). Incidentally, they don't enforce ratings here. Kids get to see the darndest things.

There has also been a spate of movies on Africa. Even British Broadcasting Corporation had a review of them on their regular "Talking Movies" broadcast from New York. The one we haven't seen is "Hotel Rwanda" which is now at the theater that banned us, but it will probably get to the other mall next week. When Anne was here we saw "Madagascar" which is fantastic.

The Central Park Zoo is totally real, but I never met such animals there. In Madagascar they must have recruited every fossa on the island to have a group that large. The zoo animals' reacion to Madagascar reminded me of the reaction of many Black Americans when they visit Africa and find the "homeland" is not so homey.

The opposite was true of a group of American musicians (including Tina Turner) shown in the film "Soul to Soul" about their visit to Ghana in 1971. They really related to their "soul brothers"(and sisters). We could relate as we had visited Ghana four years earlier., The film was rather poorly done (reminiscent of a home movie) and is probably not widely known. We saw it at the local film club.

We were surprised to see "Sahara" listed on the BBC as one of the films presenting a new image of Africa. When analysed, it does, indeed, fit in. We loved it just for the improbable adventure typical of Dirk Pitt. We would have rushed to see it sooner if we'd realized it was based on a Clive Cussler novel. We've read them all.

I don't know if "Drum"will circulate in the States, but I recommend it if it does. It tells how one magazine (still being published) was instrumental in fighting apartheid. It also is a good portrayal of what it means to be poor in South Africa.

On the 14th of Aug. the BBC showed a "documentary" on their series "Reporters" which purported to explain the ongoing saga of the San (Bushmen) and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. I have never seen such biased reporting! All the San they interviwed were anti Botswana Government and told blatant lies about there being no cattle, cash etc. as compensation for moving. They also repeated the myth about diamonds being the reason for the move. I visited the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 1995, shortly before the San moved and found the conditions totally unlike the idyllic life portrayed on the BBC. Imagine tick bearing livestock, cultivation, hunting with rifles and water brought in tankers. This is a game reserve? We'll be at the Kuru Dance Festival near Ghanzi on the 19th and 20th of August and see just how "terrible" life is for San outside the Game Reserve.

We also saw a live production of "Joseph & His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" which billed as "Broadway comes to Botswana." They'll probably get away with it as few people here have seen an actual Broadway production. In spite of spending an absolute fortune and actually recruiting people who could sing, they ruined it by having mikes on the main characters which were much too loud and overbalanced everyone else. The orchestra could also have been cut in half. As one person summed it up, "Raucus". (A production we saw years ago in Bloemfontein was better, and I wouldn't even classify it as Broadway.)

The Millenium Seed Bank had a day trip on the 4th of Aug.which didn't yield much. It is totally dry and another drought emergency has been declared to release funds to keep things going. It doesn't help the budget! At least things are not the disaster which is occurring elsewhere. We did find Stapelia gigantea with enough fruit for a collection. Euphorbia schinzii was in bud and E. griseola was just hanging in there. Next to these two we found Bridelia mollis, a tree in the Euphorbia family with edible fruit and collected some. Elsewhere we found Babiana hypogea, a member of the Iris family, which has edible corms. (It also has beautiful blue flowers, but these come later.)

On the 2nd our entomologist, Sithole, presented a paper on the insects of Botswana using electron micrographs done at the University. I don't know if many people understood what they were seeing, but I found it fascinating- especially when I learned that the spots on a lady bird beetle don't show up on an electro micrograph. (Other beetles have structural spots which do show up!)

On the 9th the Museum opened its annual Basket and Craft exhibit. The baskets continue to be among the best in the world and other crafts are developing. The prices are higher than ever, but still not unreasonable.

I managed to borrow a book with the interesting title "The Orchid Thief" (Susan Orleany, 2000, Vintage, London). Apparently orchids are as addictive as succulents. As it says in this book, "To desire orchids is to have a desire that will never be, can never be, fully requited. A collector who wants one of every orchid species on earth will certainly die before even coming close." The book manages to squeeze in everything you never wanted to know about orchids as well as quite a bit on bromeliads (the pineapple family). Both of these groups contain some succulents, but heed the warning and don't go in too deeply.

The story hidden in all this concerns a man who is arrested for stealing the rare ghost orchid from a preserve in Florida. The ghost orchid (Polyrrhiza lindenii) consists of a bunch of roots fastened to the bark of a host tree. Occasionally a stalk of white flowers appears out of this.

This sounds rather hard to believe, but I have seen similar orchids of the genus Micorrhiza in Malawi.


A little closer

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