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  • Whispers from the Depths Whispers from the Depths


Quick Overview

Whispers from the Depths is more than just the story of the building of the Kariba Dam in the mid-1950s.

Built in just five years against overwhelming odds, the dam is a monument to engineering excellence. Shrouded in political under¬tones, the construction of the dam was vital for the hydro-electric power it would provide for Zambia’s burgeoning copper industry. Little thought, however, appears to have been given to the future of the human and animal populations who lived in the valley that would be inundated when the dam was completed.

The question has to be asked: Was this awe-inspiring man-made creation achieved at too high a cost in terms of the human suffer¬ing and environmental devastation it caused?

Central to the story of Kariba was the fate of the Tonga people who had for centuries lived in the Gwembe Valley, due to be flooded when the sluice gates were finally closed to halt the flow of the mighty Zambezi River. Approximately 57 000 people were forced to move from their ancestral homes, abandoning family graves and spiritual sites to the depths of Kariba’s water. They became a dispersed people who have never been able to reunite as a cohesive society, never again been able to live peacefully on the banks of the river which gave them life. Animals, too, perished in their thousands despite the gallant efforts of wildlife personnel who mounted a hastily planned rescue mission known as Operation Noah.

Whispers from the Depths gives a voice to the all but forgotten BaTonga. It celebrates their unique culture but deplores the price they paid for progress – a price from which they themselves derived no benefit whatsoever.

“Liz and Michael Wickins’s Whispers from the Depths is a good read as well as a reminder that Central and South Africa’s current emphasis on mega dams is not without major human and environmental costs, nor are such dams immortal.” Thayer Scudder, Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, California Institute of Technology.

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Liz Wickins has always lived in Johannesburg. Her writing was originally inspired by the need to tell the story of the life of her son, Jonathan, who was born with Down syndrome and has since passed away. This was the start of putting thoughts on paper.

She stumbled onto the subject of Kariba while researching another book and became totally fascinated and engrossed and has felt a very strong commitment to tell the story of Kariba as she believes South Africans deserve to know about it.

Liz is married to Barry, and has a son, Graeme, a daughter-in-law and two grandsons. She has a degree in Psychology and has always balanced her writing with doing accounting work.

Mike Wickins was born and raised in Johannesburg, where he also qualified as a lawyer, a field in which he practiced for several years, before joining an investment bank, where he currently works in the field of Energy finance.

Mike became involved in writing Whispers from the Depths when Liz Wickins, his aunt, told him of the story she was researching.

Mike is married to Vanessa and they have three children.
ISBN: 978-0-9946586-4-7
Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 235mm h x 153mm w
Page Extent: 212 pages
Photographs: 3 x 4 page sections