Fernley, not his real name, yet everyone calls and knows him as Fernley. Master of Hydrogen peroxide
Cycling along the River Clyde cycling out of Glasgow. Though the derelict industrial landscape that shaped this town and underpins its current identity one noticed shed like towers. These structures too tall to be garden sheds, too makeshift to be electrical transistor stations are purpose build spaces of some sorts. What are these huts? Who is using them? For what purpose?
It turns out these are pigeon lofts holding highly regarded collections of “hens” and “cocks” Pigeon. Breeding these birds was immensely popular amongst male industrial workers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Fernley Is dying his pigeons’ feathers from a Payne grey to a bright blond. “Just as your misses get her hair done for the night out, I make this hen looking great” he accounts. Using Hydrogen peroxide, he achieves the most desirable “platinum blonde” around.
Decolourizes, the pigment in the feathers, is loaded with danger as the birds can suffer the loss of feathers, swollen skin or lose sight if the bleach enters their eyes. If any of these occurs precious jewel in the collection of a fancier or it dies, Fernley is in danger accusations can escalate to fights, killing his birds, fistfights and even stabbings he tells me. “Once a consumer try to set fire to his pigeon loft at night,” he tells me. “The quest for superior beauty at the end of it, however, makes the worth risk”.
The desire for the authentic blond, bridges from the bird to the human species, Nordic gentlemen favouring of the blond type is well documented through the ages. Famously natural blond and beautiful Rosalie Duthé, born in France in the mid-eighteenth century and raised in a convent, She allegedly once turned the head of the affluent English financier 3rd Earl of Egremont, to such desire that he kidnapped her and brought her back to England, only to end up in bankruptcy and madness. Although this blond tale is probably a myth, blondes do not seem to have lost any of their popularity since. Research suggests that blondes feature more often on magazine covers than any other type. Asserting the notion, that we humans are attracted to the exotic. Most minorities (only 2% of humankind are natural blond) are both reviled and revered by society.
Rock Pigeons, the ancient relatives of racing pigeons, nonetheless, come only in shades of grey. Not blond, the desire of the “pigeon fancying” keepers must be achieved by using aggressive chemicals. The delicate timing and dosage make Fernley’s dying feather skills invaluable in the peruse of the perfect Platinum Blonde. Praised and well thought after he is a master in turning grey feathers into a beautiful and desirable fledgeling, His flock can be recognised from far away flying in the sky. “A young hen is jealously guarded by her cock”.
Pigeon breeding was immensely popular amongst male industrial workers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pigeon breeding and racing offered not only the thrills and excitement but also the more sedate and intellectual rewards of spawning and rearing the birds. The pigeon loft was and is a masculine enclave and a retreat from the pressures of domestic life for some, although for others it was an opportunity to share time with their family. For some working-class men, pigeons are a vent to open displays of emotion, contrasted uncomfortably with the more suppressed relations that workers presented to their spouses and children.
Successful pigeon racers indeed won both self-esteem and the respect of their peers. Successful “pigeon fancying” is spoken of in revered tones years after their death. Pigeon thus a route to a more positive self-identification that is too often denied in unbecoming work that followed the downfall of male defining manual professions in the retired heavy industry.
Please contact me if you have added information and thoughts on these initial thoughts for this project.
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Photos and Text Samuel Hauenstein Swan – www.sambronx-photo.com
Part X of the Descendent of the Hyena Series. Full Story
Food aid has traditionally been the dominant form of assistance to people suffering from hunger. In the past decade, however, support in the form of cash transfers has become increasingly popular as an alternative to food aid, especially in Africa. The advantages of cash are many. Cash gives people more choices to the recipient than food, enabling them to meet a range of food and non-food needs, including health expenses, clothing, and – even in emergency situations – the purchase of livestock and other critical assets needed to build livelihoods. Herds small to big not only provide food directly, but they also guarantee an income flow, can act as a store of value enhancing risk-bearing capacity, and often have an inherent value linked to the status they confer to their owners. Farmers like Zara ideally invest there harvest surplus profit to gain animals which the resell if they face financial hardship, such as an illness, prolonged food deficit etc.
The nomadic communities around where Zara lives had once abundant and diverse herds. The “dry” years of the late 1980s and the first decade of the 21st century severely reduced the numbers and composition of the animals. Trying to recover in the aftermath of severe droughts is a long and tough process: buying young and healthy animals is beyond the means of all but the wealthiest. Losing their strong camels signifies diminishes the ability to move from place to place in search of water and pasture. In turns that result in heightened conflict between the villages and the nomads as the prolonged presence of animals and humans around limited water-points leads to increasing overgrazing, deforestation, and disputes over the usage of extensive plains.
Almost all evidence available highlighting positive effects of cash transfers, on livestock and inputs. The impacts on savings, ownership of animals were consistent highlighting positive results of giving distressed communities cash on hand at times of seasonal hunger.
Cash also has ‘multiplier effects’ in the economy: spending cash transfers will generate income and employment for others that not got the cash directly. Capital can help farmers protect their belongings and their production systems. prevent distress sales of animals and livelihood stimulate local food economies.
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Part IIX of the Descendent of the Hyena Series.
Text and Pictures Samuel Hauenstein Swan
Over centuries, many societies have come up with mechanisms that reduced seasonal hunger of its citizens. Transport networks, agricultural technologies, storage and information on surpluses and shortages of food crops in various parts of a country all ideal mitigate the impact of hunger and hopefully prevent starvation of its populations.
However, systems and technologies no matter how sophisticated and right meaning depend on solidarity on all levels. For Anti-hunger policies they need the resolution of the powerfull to enable the voices of the communities that are subjected to the massive destructive forces of seasonal hunger and its aggravating factors – poor health, lack of access to resources conflict and so for.
Examples of success as plenty: massive relief interventions, public works programme, agricultural extension workers, relaxation of taxes to stimulate trade and lower prices. Social arrangements to redistribute food, assets and relief from the rich to the poor exists on the national and international level. Humanitarian is on an upward trend with record budget of US$27.3 billion for global humanitarian assistance for 2016
The question of who is “deserving” of this help, remains a contested topic. Those in power accept a moral and legal duty to protect poor and powerless against the worst and often focus narrowly on the prevention of starvation death while neglecting other forms of hunger and malnutrition. The concepts of vulnerability have evolved over the past decades for sure. The same sharp but the ultimately false distinction between “starvation prevention” and “hunger prevention” prevails today. An especially poignant question as the number of displaced, conflict affects and climate change affected populations raise quicker than the funds available to respond. Is the global moral responsibility limited to starvation or the much higher sum of death and distress caused by annual cycles of hunger which is mostly ignored?
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Photo and Text: Samuel Hauenstein Swan – www.SamBronx-Photo.com
We ask the elder in the villages about his daily routine in the growing season. “my wife and I get up at about five o’clock in the morning,” he begins, and head out right away to the fields, to beat the heat that is building up very quickly. We try to get most of the farm work – which is at that time of the year mostly weeding and ensure the soil is not to compact around the base of the plants, so the rain gets to the roots quickly – before one o’clock n the afternoon.
By the time we reach home, it is nearly two it is we have our first meal.
During the months where we have the most work on the farms, we also have the least reserves in the kitchen. We often have just that lunch meal, and in the evening we make some tea with sugar.
These hunger season meals lack both in quantity and quality. It is often just as much that a headache is going but never as much that we feel full. During this month of the year, it is only porridge we dilute with much water and give a bit of tasing by adding wild leaves and hot spices.
“Hunger in the village and the region has to do with poverty and secondary with rains.” Zara’s neighbours explain: ”the rain permit only one harvest. The better off villages have the low grounds close to the river and with fertile soil to make most of the few spots of rain. The others have the fields that are higher and on slopes where the water runs off, and the most fertile ground is missing. These areas give little and even in good years are sufficient to feed the family. They also have no surplus to bring to the markets and gain cash to purchase food later in the season. Once their stocks are empty Zara, and families like hers must hope for occasional work in exchange for a meal.
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Photo and Text: Samuel Hauenstein Swan http://www.sambronx-photo.com
Part III of the Descendent of the Hyena Story.
The vast majority of small-scale farmers in Subsaharan Africa depend on rain feed agriculture. Yet, around Zara’s village the rivers dry up, as soon they have swelled in the short rainy season, and water becomes scarce.
Most of the world’s economic weak families live in rural areas and work in agricultural and livestock economies. For these households, poverty, hunger and illness are highly dynamic phenomena, changing dramatically over the course of a year in response to production, price and climatic cycles.
As a result, most of the world’s acute hunger occurs not in conflicts and natural disasters but in that annually recurring time of the year called the ‘hunger season’, the period during the year when the previous year’s harvest stocks have dwindled, and little food is available on the market, causing prices to shoot upward.
Employment and economic opportunities are often scarce during the hunger season, and to make matters worse, in many countries this period usually coincides with the rainy season, when severe illnesses like malaria strike hardest.
Despite the importance of seasonal cycles throughout the rural developing world, development response is often homogeneous in type and amount throughout the year.
Seasonality is one of these leverage points. Interventions like pre-positioning nutrition and health resources, providing employment during the hunger period, and indexing benefits to prices will cost-effectively reduce poverty, hunger, child mortality and illness.
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Part II of the Descendent of the Hyena Story.
Photo and Text: Samuel Hauenstein Swan – www.SamBronx-Photo.com
The few months after harvest in September, are comfortable for the community of Guidan Koura. Food is readily available. The water holes are replenished and full. The time of plenty is short-lived
Zara’s husband is missing, from the picture, he is coming only for the short rainy season to help with the agricultural season and harvest. they all know there will not be sufficient work or food for all and he is leaving for the rest of the year to work in the faraway coastal countries the rest of the year.
Soon the supplies reduce, the mothers have to think of the months to come and start to ration. Orientate their thoughts to the long months ahead. Survival to Zara’s family will depend on her forward thinking and her ability to balance her household economy and care duties as a mother.
2005 was a terrible year the harvest was small, no one in the village had much grain. The social fabric of the community began to unravel; neighbours hid food from each other, knowing that dividing food into even smaller portions would mean starvation for all. Hunger drove them all mad. It was then when Zara’s big sister fell ill and died; she left two daughters to look after. With no food in the home and two more mouths to feed her second born boy fell behind. He too died during the 2005 hunger season.
Zara now calls three daughters and two boys, one born in 2007 her children.
Photo: Samuel Hauenstein Swan www.sambronx-photo.com
Malawi’s HIV epidemic remains generalised and feminised. Although the country has recorded a significant reduction in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths; adolescent girls, young women and other key populations, particularly in urban areas, continue to bear the highest burden of the epidemic.
The HIV pandemic is worthing the poverty experienced by elderly. Orphans witnessing the death of one or both of their parents may be exhausted emotionally have no choice than turn to their grandmother and fathers for protection and upkeep. Not only does this increase the cost of running the households also the elderly grandparents must compensate for the loss labour on the frames for to the foreseeable future. The old have watched and grieved with dignity and dismay as one after another of their children died, leaving them without a traditional family support. ADIS left some families with only the old and the very young.
Malawi is a nation living in grief. Malawi’s communities are upholding human dignity and respect in circumstances that would daunt the most stout-hearted. Or as this woman told me the pandemic make everyone realises that strength lays in mutual community support and solidarity.
In 2016, Malawi had 36 000 (31 000 – 45 000) new HIV infections and 24 000 (20 000 – 31 000) AIDS-related deaths. There were 1 000 000 (970 000 – 1 100 000) people living with HIV in 2016, among whom 66% (62% – 70%) were accessing antiretroviral therapy. (UNAIDS 2017)