The first rain of the season was an unusual one – which in Africa, can be a portent of ill-boding. It was most out of keeping for late October rains, which were usually a few heated dollops carried in on a breathless sky at the end of a hot day. Those rains began hard, ended abruptly, and did nothing but accentuate the smell of dry dust in the air. At the most they gave a florid sunset the quick face wash it needed. If they had no permanence or weight of conviction, they could be forceful in their impetuous arrival – sometimes they were bold enough to carry six months of stick debris and leaf litter with them to gutters and drains on their way to the Luanshya River. Gardeners cursed them: they were never generous enough to give the soil a good soaking – but irresponsible enough to rob the earth of its mulch.