Yesterday we had a tree chopped down in the compound as the local electricity company said it was blowing against their power cables. So along came two men and a big saw. It was a lovely hard wood tree. Today, the proper work began.
This is what happens to felled trees here. Firstly a big pit is dug, about 5 feet deep. The tree is then cut into smaller sections. Two of the smaller sections are put across the hole onto which the larger piece of trunk is lain.
Hope that makes sense – if not see the photo. The large piece of trunk is then measured into square sections using a piece of string soaked in charcoal dust in water with a plumb attached. The two men then set to work to cut the trunk using a saw that must be about 8 feet long. One man is in the hole and the other above. Once they have cut into the trunk by about a foot they knock an old pedal crank into the gap to help split it. The two men saw through the entire length of the trunk until they reach the end – all of this done in about 85 degrees of heat. They have been doing it all day and the net result so far is a nice pile of six 10 foot long pieces of wood – all uniform in size and all done by hand. The skill involved is amazing – I sat and watched them for about half an hour whilst they measured, sawed and generally showed an how ingenious the Tanzanians can be.