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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

South Africa’s own civil war: You’re either pro-tree or pro-fynbos

I was out walking on Table Mountain the other day, enjoying the exercise and marvelling at the view … oh, who am I kidding. I was out looking for shamanic ‘shrooms, but I can’t write that or the police will be smashing down my front door before you can say 4-hydroxyl-dimethyltryptamine.

Truth is, nobody can walk anywhere in Table Mountain National Park these days because a gang of government-backed eco-terrorists are hacking down all the pine and eucalyptus trees.

A few days ago, someone spray-painted sad faces on the ends of some of the executed trees. Then someone else came along and sprayed happy faces on the rest.

This is how we protest in the Cape. Instead of being like normal people and throwing stones and setting journalists alight, we paint faces on tree stumps and write angry letters to the local paper.

When I say “we”, I mean white people. Everyone else is “they”. Here in Cape Town, we speak it like it are. But this is not a racist thing. It’s a mountain thing. We take our dogs and our children and our secretaries for walks on the mountain and They don’t. If We see one of Them heading towards us, We stuff our wallets down our pants and try to call the mountain police before They disembowel us with screwdrivers and make overseas calls on our cellphones.

I’m talking rubbish. There is no such thing as the mountain police.

Here in Africa’s last colony, one is either pro-tree or pro-fynbos. There is no middle ground. Stands must be taken and positions defended.

I have given the matter considerable thought and have decided to join forces with the tree people. One of their major grievances is that, by hacking down all the pines, the Tree Taliban have deprived walkers of any kind of protection from the sun. Apart from a six-pack and a 9mm Parabellum, shade is the next best thing to have on a walk in Table Mountain National Park.

The Taliban’s argument, which is supported by chainsaws, is that the birds don’t like alien trees and they take too much water and don’t put enough back into society. Apparently these foreign ingrates hang around doing nothing except get bigger and smack the helpless fynbos around when nobody’s looking.

Fynbos is not known for its shade-giving qualities. If you’re suffering from heat stroke and desperately need shelter, you can always try to leopard-crawl under a Leucospermum lineare and risk having your face slashed to ribbons by its cruel, scrubby branches.


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I don’t care if the South Pole melts. I grew up in Durban and I need to be warm.

Click through for my tips on cutting greenhouse gas emissions!

I knocked over the Weber after staging a one-man braai the other night and was woken up several hours later by Brenda shouting at me about the carpet.

I thought I was back in Angola under attack by a Fapla patrol and brought her down with a textbook scissor kick. Okay, that part isn’t true. I pulled the duvet over my head and lay there whimpering and making private deals with God.

Brenda reached in and took me by the ears, dragging my head within striking distance. She pointed my face at the carpet. I thought she was going to rub my nose in it, like you do with a naughty puppy.

“What the hell is that?” she barked. “I can’t see anything,” I said. Being half blind with alcohol poisoning I could barely see the floor, let alone what was on it.

Brenda demanded to know why I had tracked soot across the carpets.

“It wasn’t me,” I said. She got me into a half-nelson and gave me a misguided tour of the house. The tracks led from my side of the bed to the fridge and then to the overturned braai.

The tracks between the fridge and the braai looked like something wildebeests might leave during their annual migration in the Serengeti.
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