One thing that Johannes hated the most was to see his cattle wandering around the farm with little or no water to drink because of drought in the country. He was a farmer with a passion for Agriculture. His father, Mr John White, woke him up early in the morning on weekends to work with other farm workers, and he would pay him less money because he was a child and a member of the family. His main aim was to make his son a man. The love of farming developed into Johannes’s heart while he was still in primary school and before his father died. Despite many incidents of attacks toward farmers in the province, he remained positive that the perpetrators would all end up in jail and nothing will stop him from keeping his father’s legacy alive.
Food crops were dying including, among others, mealies, cabbages, tomatoes, and spinach. Johannes’s wife, Grace, was always there for him in difficult times and so were his children, Lorraine and Brian. Lorraine was doing Environmental studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal but was at home for holidays and was keen to assist her father in finding ways of dealing with the drought.
Brian would fetch water from the nearest dam with a tractor to water the food plants and for household use. It was not his daily routine, but he had to do it more often after his father had dismissed two tractor drivers in the last three months to cut down on expenses. The assistance given to farmers by Government was not enough at all. Some farmers sold their farms for cheap prices, and others sold their livestock at very low prices to get fast cash.
Grace was preparing supper when Johannes entered the kitchen after he had taken a shower. He looked at her and smiled, then he said: “What’s that aroma?”
“I’ve cooked beef stew. I hope you’ll like it.” She answered.
“Definitely, I will,” said Johannes while sitting at the kitchen table just behind where the stove was positioned.
Both Brian and Lorraine joined them for supper and they talked and laughed about how Brian fell with a bucket of water when he was chased by a chicken the other day.
“I’m thinking of selling the farm.” Johannes said those words and everyone gawked at him in disbelief as no one was expecting to hear that.
“What!?” Asked Grace loudly.
“I’m thinking of selling the farm if this drought continues. I am losing money, my cows are dying and the cost of living is getting higher and higher.” He said in a rather snapping voice.
“Dad, how can you do that?” Brian joined in.
“Son, just shut up. This is my farm I am talking about and it is me who has not been gaining much since the beginning of the year!” Johannes said angrily. You could see that this was a serious matter to Johannes White. The shortage of water was not only the crisis of the Eastern Cape, but the country as a whole. It was the second year now without any heavy rains in the province. Some areas were labelled as the most drought stricken and water was donated to those areas by Government, non-profit organisations and businesses.
After three years, the local church leaders decided to hold a big gathering in the mountains to pray for rain. All farmers and members of the community were invited, together with the councillors and deputy councillors. Youth organisations and church based organisations were going to be part of the mountain prayer too. They all vowed that enough was enough, and God had to intervene.
On the day of the prayer for rain, some people had fasted for three days so that their prayers would reach God faster. Johannes, his family, and his farm workers were among the people there. At around ten in the morning the prayer started. Everyone was hoping that something dramatic was going to happen and the rain would fall. Journalists from different media houses were also invited to document the special prayer on the mountain.
“Lord, please give us rain. We are suffering. Please let the rain fall.” Prayed one famous priest who was leading the prayers.
“Our food is vanishing, our cattle are dying of hunger and shortage of water. If this is your way of punishing us for sins we have committed, please forgive us, dear Lord. We humble ourselves before you. We have tried everything but all our efforts have been unsuccessful. Lord please intervene.” The priest pleaded with God in a sad voice.
Johannes was next to his wife and he also prayed silently in his heart.
For three days after the big mountain prayer, nothing happened. No drop of rain fell from the sky, but hopes were high amongst the villagers that God would answer their prayers. When Johannes woke up on the morning of the fourth day, he heard the loud noise of rain drops bumping on the floor of the veranda. He quickly went to open the door, and in disbelief he saw the heavy rain he had last witnessed five years ago. He saw the cows waving their tails happily. He stepped out of the door and shouted several times:
“Thank you, Lord, thank you!”
His wife, Brian and Lorraine joined him. They all jumped and laughed in the heavy rain like nobody’s business.
A farm worker, Thokozani, came to join them and he said: “Baas, you see, God is good. I told you that after that prayer, things would never be the same again,” and he and Johannes laughed.
A few days later, the grass grew faster and the dams were reportedly full. Johannes never talked about selling the farm again. It started to rain more often and everyone was happy about the rain that came from God. A year later, Lorraine graduated and got her degree in Environmental Science.