Written By: The Lowdown - Oct• 31•00

Cane Cutter’s Day At Zambia Sugar

Probably one of the most physically exacting jobs going in this part of the world is cutting cane. The cane is burnt the night before and early the next morning; cutters get into the fields and set about harvesting it with their “knives”.  Several tonnes (each) later and covered in smut and soot they set off back to their temporary homes for much needed refreshment…and a rest. Now there’s more to their lives than simply cutting cane.

Over the past three months, Cane Cutters at Zambia Sugar, most of who hail from Western Province, have, in their spare time, been earnestly honing their skills at soccer and polishing their performance at Traditional Dancing. The reason for this? The First Annual Soccer and Tribal Dancing Championships, sponsored by one of Zambia Sugar’s main agricultural equipment suppliers, Barlow’s Equipment.

On Sunday, August 27, Cane Cutters from the entire Estate gave themselves and their cane knives a rest and descended on Nakambala Estates Community Centre soccer field to either watch or participate in the two events. The local community also came out in full force to witness the teams (four soccer and four dancing) vie for the much sought after Barlow’s Soccer and Tribal Dancing floating trophies. Proudly sporting Barlow’s T shirts, the Cutters gave an excellent, closely matched, performance on the soccer field, and danced their hearts out, much to the enjoyment of the spectators, many of whom had not witnessed traditional Lozi dancing before.

In presenting trophies to the winning teams – Nakambala section for the soccer (won by a penalty shoot-out) and Kaleya for the dancing, – Barlow’s Sales Manager for the southern region, Gary Norton said that Barlow’s were very pleased to be associated with the sponsorship of sport and cultural activities for the cutter’s at Nakambala and looked forward to future events.

Exciting Finish To Polocrosse .

The Polocrosse National Championships that took place at Lubombo in early September went very well – particularly for local teams. Last year’s Champions in the A division, Leopard’s Hill, didn’t make it to the finals this year, and instead, it was a hard fought match between Lusaka side, Trotover, and the hosts, Lubombo. Lubombo took the trophy in both the A and B divisions. The C division was won by a new team fielded entirely by the Zambian Police. Good to see them play, and we hope they’ll keep it up and be back again next year.

Coming Up!

It’s fairly quiet and peaceful in Mazabuka at this time of year, and you can almost hear the mango’s grow! However there are a few happenings left in the year. At Mazabuka club, there’s “the Brain’s of Mazabuka” on October 28th and the Memorial Rally in November (no fixed date yet). There is also GOLF! President of the Golf Club, Doug Cantlay and his team of helpers, need to be given a medal for bringing the course “up to scratch”… The fairways are so green that goats have mistaken them for a lush grazing ground. So, if you can’t get your hole in one – you’ll most probably be able to’ “get your goat!”

The Sun – Public Enemy Number One!

On a recent visit to Durban, I sat with a friend who is a cancer victim, in a very comfortable sitting room, surrounded by other cancer sufferers – all with Chemo drips attached to their arms. They chatted to me about the types of cancer they had and when they hoped to be “off” treatment. It was a sobering experience. The youngest person there was Gerry, aged 24. He had Melanoma cancer. He told me that he had spent his teenage years on the beach, and had never bothered with any form of “skin protection”. No sunscreen and no protective clothing.

Malignant melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer to affect light skinned people in this part of the world. According to specialists, once it gets into the lymph system there is little chance of the patient recovering. Gerry’s Melanoma spot had appeared on his leg. He’d had the spot removed and diagnosed as being malignant. Six months later he developed a swollen gland in his groin. Two years later he is still on treatment but the cancer is in his lymph system and it’s rife.
Southern Hemisphere countries have the highest skin cancer rates in the world, obviously because of the amount of sun we’re exposed to on a daily basis, but this is exacerbated by the hole in the ozone layer that lies over southernmost countries, inadequately shielding us from ultraviolet rays.

People with dark skin are not immune, as pigmentation doesn’t offer complete protection against the UVA light that seems to be the principal cause of skin cancer. The risks for dark skinned people are lower, but they’re still there and can’t be ignored. However, among white people worldwide, the incidence of melanoma is rising at a rate that outstrips all other cancers.

In Australia there’s a massive, ongoing campaign to try and make people aware of the dangers of the sun. There’s the “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign – slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. The best protection? To simply stay OUT of the sun, particularly in the middle of the day. “Between 11 and 3 step under a tree” is how one Aussie television commercial puts it.   The best sunscreen is absolutely FREE! It’s shade.

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