Chapter 5

With my work finished at the new Hospital, and the two sisters returned to their home, Marie and I returned to Kalene, and were told that Dr. Lee had become rather ill and needed to be transported to a Hospital on the Copper Belt to receive special treatment, so I was the one to take him and his wife there.

The Copper Belt consisted of a few small towns where copper was mined, and was the main source of income for the country of Zambia. It was a long journey of about seven hundred Klms. one way.
After returning to Kalene we were moved to Dr. Lee’s house and did a few odd jobs around the mission, one of which to wash X-ray films
One night, we heard a dog whining outside our door. It was a neighbor’s dog, and was blind in one eye due to the venom of a spitting cobra.
I got dressed and went out with a torch (flash light) to see what the matter was. To my surprise, it had carried one small pup which later died, and that the pup had been seriously eaten by army ants. The dog would run a few yards and return to me, then run again, so I decided to follow it and went several hundred yards into the bush where it had obviously given birth I flashed the light around, but could not see any other pups.
Suddenly, I felt a stinging feeling all over my body! I discovered the ants had made their way all over me, and to make matters worse, I lost track of which way to return home. It took me a while to find out the way home until I heard a dog barking that gave me the direction.
After arriving at the house Marie had to run water in the bath while I sat in the water and she spent a lot of time just picking ants off me. The thing about army ants is that they will not let go. You could pull at them and the head would come off before they would release their grip, hence the water to drown them!
Some time later, the ants came back to take revenge. We were asleep in our bed when I felt stinging on my feet and legs. Quickly I flashed the light around and the floor was completely covered with them. We scrambled to an adjoining room and were surprised that the ants did not come in there, but went throughout the rest of the house. By morning, they had all gone.
A third encounter with these creatures came when an elderly lady called me to inform me that army ants had gotten into her rabbit hutch. I rushed to her assistance to help her and she told me to find some ashes, which I did and we made a small furrow around the hutch, Apparently, they will not cross over ashes. She was so glad to have saved her precious rabbits!
Mr. Chapman had been a builder before he came to Africa, and he came in his retirement to build the large Hospital at Kalene, He told me that there were more buildings to be built in the future, so he decided that it would be a good thing if I took on the job of making bricks.

I had had no experience in that line, but he assured that he would show me how to do it. First thing was to choose a place to lay a foundation of old bricks about twenty feet square, near an extinct anthill. It seems that when ants were building their anthill that they would excrete a chemical in the mud, which made excellent material for bricks. A small shallow area was dug about five feet in diameter, and then, with crowbars and picks, they would chop away at the anthill and toss the anthill clay into the shallow pit. Several open-topped barrels were nearby to hold water.
Some women would keep the barrels full of water, and when the fellows would get enough clay into the pit, water would be added and the fellows would trample the mix into mud with their bare feet making it ready to form into bricks. A small wooden mold was used to shape the bricks, which were then laid carefully in rows to dry. They were to make nine hundred bricks a day. The bricks would then dry in the sun for three days.
After the bricks were dry, the building of the Kiln would begin. First, the fireboxes were to be built. They were made from the new dry bricks. The fireboxes were about two and a half feet wide at the bottom, and narrowed to about eight inches at the top about three feet high and about four feet long to accommodate the lengths of firewood. There were six fireboxes, three on either side of the kiln.
As the workmen began to stack the bricks, a space must be left between the bricks to allow the heat of the fire to penetrate throughout the entire kiln. One kiln would be, about thirty thousand bricks and normally, about ten thousand would be spoiled.
Once the kiln was finished, it would be plastered with a heavy coat of mud to keep the heat from escaping. The fires within the fireboxes would have to be tended three days and three nights. It would be then left for at least a week or so, to cool. It was satisfying to me to see the beautiful pink bricks ready to build with. If one would tap them lightly with a hammer, they would give off a clinking sound indicating a good quality of brick.

But this process would require an abundance of firewood. Laborers would be sent to the bush to cut firewood and I would haul it to the site with my old Land Rover.
I remembered as a child on the farm, that most farmers had an item called a drag sled for transporting farm implements to and from the fields. I decided to build one to see if I could hasten the transport of firewood. I towed it behind the Land Rover, and loaded it with firewood. I had also removed the back seat to make more space in the vehicle. The test would be if the Land Rover would be able to pull it? It worked perfectly. We built three kilns in total.
To be continued. (hopefully by his family)

Dad went to africa shortly after writing this. He stopped writing while out there and was just about convinced to start writing again at the time of his death.
W shall endeavour to finish the story. Check back soon.