n English in Africa - Feral whispering , community and the reach of the literary

Volume 41 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Google "elephant + basenji" and you will observe a remarkable event. Every so often, on the edge of Cecil Kop Game Reserve, bordering my home town of Mutare, Zimbabwe, one of the reserve's two elephants approaches the fence of a private house. On the house side is a Basenji dog. The two animals get as close to one another as the electrified fence permits. They seem to take a great interest in each other. Neither the other elephant, nor the household's other dog, participate in the exchange; this is a communing between two unique individuals. Sometimes, the elephant lies down, and she and the dog continue staring at each other. Just what is passing between them is impossible to say, but is going on. Curiosity at least, and a measure of trust. Albeit tentative, a new, wholly unpredictable social aggregation has come into being, neither quite wild nor tamed: feral.

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