The blacksmith with Don Pinnock

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The blacksmith with Don Pinnock

Last night a hyena visited, arr-yooping around and under my tent (it’s on stilts). It’s call echoed across the valley in descending decibles, waking up the Piet-my-vrou cuckoos. For an hour or so sleep was cancelled but it was worth it.  After breakfast we picked our way through coffee plantations down to Lake Eyasi. After checking in at Tindiga Tented Camp we wandered through a large, open-air market, threading past tall Maasai warriors in their startlingly red capes, fancy earrings and fierce weaponry. Prominent items for sale were onions and slops made from car tyres. Also on sale were calendars with a photo of Brother (ex) Leader Gadaffi. Did anyone here know he was dead and disgraced?

After that we had a cultural immersion that reinforced my sense of time warp. Sambargwa Domdu is a blacksmith who would not be out of place in the early Iron Age. His bellows were cowhide bags with which he blasted air through a clay cone into glowing coals, heating metal into red-hot compliancy.  

His anvil was a rock and his only tools were a battered hammer and a beat-up chisel. With these, as we watched, he turned out lethal arrowheads for local Hadza hunters and delicate bangles for adornment-hungry Maasai. Afterwards he played on a single-stringed instrument and sang hauntingly about nothing I could understand.He was a true alchemist musician – the sort of guy every wild tribe needs. I bought some arrow tips with no intention to kill. They were such exquisite works of art.

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