Saturday, October 4, 2014

“THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE” is a novel about HUMANS and ANIMALS too.

Africa is a complicated continent made of ad hoc nations—a patchwork of mosaics that don’t comfortably fit together, due to borders created by war, colonialism, tribalism and economic expediency. The humans are constrained to these boundaries—if they don’t it is the end of peace, and the beginning of war. And tragically this happens far too often…

But other creatures inhabit Africa. They are not constrained by boundaries. They wander the great savannahs in search of food, water, shelter…and a mate. There is death, but just brief skirmishes for sustenance and survival. They have no Napoleonic ambitions to conquer great swathes of dusty soil for the sake of empire building. And in this regard they are far wiser than us Homosapians. These are the animals. They have no interest whether their domicile is South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, or Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia. They merely wander wherever grazing and water takes them. And because of their sense of freedom, we humans envy them...and so we hunt them, poach them, trap them, corral them, and tame them. 

I would prefer if we just let them be....

In writing and researching my historical novel “The ZebraAffaire” I had the privilege of viewing these creatures in their natural habitat (Oh how I wish their habitat was mine!).

Me, Mark Fine--the author in what he wishes was his natural habitat. 
This image was taken in 2006.

Here are some of the animals I met along the way, and a description or two excerpted from The Zebra Affaire

"....the stately waterbuck drank its fill, only to leave a surprise when it turned, revealing a white ring resembling a toilet seat marked on its rump."

"Soon a shy kudu took a bow, its magnificent spiraled horns almost inconsequential in comparison to its comically large ears. The kudu’s wonderful hearing detected Elsa shuffling in her seat and the animal froze, momentarily threatened. Then its eyes found Elsa’s, and for many seconds they stared at each other. When Elsa blinked first, the now reassured kudu began to cautiously drink."

"Chomping, snorting grunts woke her. A family of warthogs grazed on grass tufts next to her, and she watched as they shuffled along on their front elbows with their tails straight high like radio antenna. Their tusks looked fearsome, razor-sharp..."
"Two zebra at that moment appeared, clearly a mating pair. Typical of the animal kingdom, it was he who was the most splendid. His stripes were jet black on a field of white, while hers faded to brown at the edges. 
At first the stallion and mare faced each other, nostril to nostril, inhaling the other’s breath. They then moved forward a pace and rested their muzzles on each other’s backs. They stood there, quietly, framed by the blue sky daubed with puffs of clouds. Even the cackle of a hyena in the near distance didn’t deter them."