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Posted: 3/14/2006 6:59:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 7:01:01 PM EDT by C-4]
I kind of wondered what happened to some of those white farmers.

'Nigeria Could Feed Africa'

They lost everything in Zimbabwe. But a hardy bunch of white farmers is making a new start.


By Joshua Hammer
Newsweek
Updated: 1:22 p.m. ET March 5, 2006



Second Chance: 'We've got a lot to learn,' says Hatty


March 13, 2006 issue - The sun is rising over the maize fields of Kwara state in western Nigeria, and Graham Hatty has already been up for hours. Bouncing in his Indian-made jeep down a track that borders his property, Hatty points out a pair of kestrels gliding on a breeze, and a flock of Abyssinian rollers sweeping across the brightening sky. "It's a bird watcher's paradise," says the 66-year-old Zimbabwean farmer. But Hatty has more on his mind than nature viewing. He pulls alongside a dozen Nigerian laborers packing burlap sacks with maize. The farmer runs his fingers through the yellow kernels, and draws back in revulsion: the bag is infested with weevils, gnatlike bugs that can quickly destroy a whole crop. "We'll have to fumigate the maize to get rid of these pests," he says. "I haven't seen these insects before in Nigeria. We've got a lot to learn here."


The learning curve has been steep since Hatty and a dozen other white farmers fled Zimbabwe last year to restart their lives in the Nigerian bush. The 13 men were among 4,000 whites who lost their farms in a disastrous land-reform program initiated six years ago by President Robert Mugabe. Now Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, is harnessing the expertise of these Zimbabwean castoffs to revive Nigeria's commercial agriculture, which has fallen into ruin since the country became a major oil producer in the 1960s. It is still too early to assess the results, but Obasanjo's experiment is spreading. Dispossessed white farmers have settled in Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Uganda. In Nigeria, 20 more farmers from Zimbabwe will soon take over land in both Kwara and the region around Abuja, Nigeria's capital; 75 others are on the waiting list. "You can plant anything here and it grows," says Hunter Coetzee, one of the first Zimbabwean pioneers. "If it gets itself together, Nigeria could feed Africa."

The Nigerian experiment is offering a second chance to men who lost everything. Hatty, the oldest member of the group, emigrated as a boy with his parents from London to British-ruled Rhodesia. In the early 1960s he bought 1,600 acres near Harare, invested heavily in irrigation and built a profitable commercial farm. He moved to South Africa after Zimbabwe's independence, but returned in 1997, convinced that Mugabe had brought his country stability. Three years later Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms. In 2004, a former general appeared at Hatty's house with an expulsion order. "He told my wife and me, 'I've been wanting this farm since 1999, and I'm going to take it'," Hatty says. The family sold their tractors and other equipment at fire-sale prices, and left their land for good.

By then, plans were already underway to bring the first group of farmers to Nigeria. The governor of predominantly Muslim Kwara had contacted the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union with an offer of free land and guaranteed bank loans to any member willing to settle there. Hatty and his fellow farmers were skeptical. "We had heard that the Nigerians were crooks, that people who travel to Nigeria never come out again," he says. "But we had no other option." Hatty and 12 others arrived in early 2005. With an initial $250,000 loan per farmer, the men drilled wells, built houses, imported tractors and seed drillers and planted their first maize crop in July. Five weeks of drought stunted the harvest, but the yield per acre was still much greater than the average for Nigeria. So far, Hatty and the four other farmers in his syndicate plan to sell 600 tons of maize, which should earn about $200,000.

Despite promising returns, the transition has been bumpy. The farmers have suffered bouts of malaria and typhoid fever. Their wells have collapsed and their water has run dry. Unscrupulous contractors have swindled them, and political opposition figures have accused them of stealing the local farmers' land. (The government gave the peasants compensation and new plots in another part of the district.) "We've had locals tell us, 'If you don't leave we'll sort you out'," Hatty says. "Ninety percent welcomed us." Isolated from friends and families, most suffer from bouts of homesickness. "Sometimes you get depressed and say, 'What am I doing here?' " admits Nikki Coetzee, one of eight wives, including Hatty's, now living with their husbands in Kwara. "You have to put it out of your mind."

Hatty looks at the upside. "I could be sitting in Zimbabwe being a miserable old fart, like most of my friends," he says, bounding through the bush in his jeep. "Instead I'm just getting on with it."
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc. |


www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11677306/site/newsweek/
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:04:59 PM EDT
It won't be long until, as Kim Du Toit is fond of saying: "Africa wins again."
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:08:50 PM EDT
Apartheid is the only sane option in that region, if you are dense enough to want to live there.

Currently the situation is of the children running the daycare.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:13:26 PM EDT
"Oppressive former colonist refugees establish new oligarchy under guise of foreign assistance." - Socialist Drivel News from San Francisco & Berkeley, Kalifornia.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:21:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 4v50:
"Oppressive former colonist refugees establish new oligarchy under guise of foreign assistance." - Socialist Drivel News from San Francisco & Berkeley, Kalifornia.



The Socialists at Newsweek really did hold back when coming up with the title of the article I posted. I'm shocked they didn't use the term 'White Devil' when referring to the farmers.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:27:44 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:35:41 PM EDT

With an initial $250,000 loan per farmer,



Dear Confidential Sirs,

I am Mrs. Adiidda Abubidabubida, widow of the Nigerian Agricultural Minister Ralph Abubidabubida. I have a Confidential Business Proposal for you. My Country is in desperate need of farmers. I will transfer $250,000,000.00 US $ to your account if you will give me the number of your bank and access to the account information. All I ask in return is that you show up with a hoe and bag of seeds.

Please keep this in strictest confidence.


Sincerly,

Adiidda Abubidabubida
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 4:27:26 AM EDT
BTT for day crew.
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 5:35:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By bulldog1967:
It won't be long until, as Kim Du Toit is fond of saying: "Africa wins again."

+1
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 5:37:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By bulldog1967:
It won't be long until, as Kim Du Toit is fond of saying: "Africa wins again."

+1



Sadly, you are probably correct.
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