Whispers from the Depths, written by Liz Wickins and Mike Wickins, is the story of the building of Kariba Dam in the mid-1950s, but it focuses as much, if not more, on the significant consequences of the project, most notably on the inhabitants of the area, and the wildlife.
It covers a brief history of the two main countries involved, modern day Zimbabwe and Zambia, explaining the political circumstances surrounding the decision to dam the Zambezi for hydro-electric power. The primary driver was to the demand created by the burgeoning copper industry in Zambia, which was being hamstrung at the time, by unreliable power supply. In engineering terms, the project was massively ambitious for its time, and would take 5 years to complete, despite the many setbacks it faced. At the time, the pyramids of Egypt were considered the only man-made structures in Africa bigger than the mammoth dam wall. The challenges of location and weather were huge and the consequences far-reaching, which gives this story great dimension.
As the reservoir began to fill, animals got trapped on newly formed islands which led to ‘Operation Noah’ which was the rescue of these animals. As part of examining the consequences of building the dam, the facts have been extended to current times.
The heart of the book however, surrounds an estimated 57 000 Tonga people, who had lived alongside the Zambezi in the Gwembe valley for centuries. They would be forcibly removed from the valley to make way for the gargantuan reservoir that was to form. They were people driven by ancestral worship who had to walk away from family graves and spiritual sites that are now buried in the depths of Kariba waters. That is what motivated the title for this book. The book describes the Tonga people before and after resettlement, showing them to be a good natured people with a complex and interesting culture. Resettlement was not always kind and led to great hardship and the book seeks to demonstrate the failing in proper planning and care for them.
Hopefully it will provide a lesson to be remembered for the future.
BOOK WEBSITE: www.karibastory.com
- TITLE: Whispers from the Depths
- SUB-TITLE: The Kariba Story
- AUTHOR: Liz Wickins and Mike Wickins
- RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE: R250 (VAT Incl)
- PHYSICAL BOOK ISBN / EAN: 978-0-9946586-4-7
- eBOOK ISBN (ePUB): 978-0-9946586-5-4
- eBOOK ISBN (PDF): 978-0-9946586-6-1
- PAGES: 216
- PHOTOS: 3 x 4 pages of photographs
- FORMAT: Trade Paperback (235mm x 153mm)
- PUBLISH DATE: May 2015