Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|September 5, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Crocodiles come to those who wait

Patience is a virtue and entrepreneurs in Africa need it in abundance. So do journalists, as I found out on a long day by a remote lake, in Zimbabwe, waiting for a crocodile. An insightful anecdote can speak volumes, so here goes. 

It was a story of rampant crocodiles in the heat of a severe drought in Zimbabwe. The news desk in Johannesburg assigned the story of crocodiles and villagers getting too close to each other as the drought cut down the water. Crocodiles had mauled and killed  several as they ventured to the water’s edge to draw their daily water.

Sometime in 1995,the crew and I  were despatched, from Harare, hundreds of kilometres, to Muzarabani, a remote village the north west of Zimbabwe. It was a truly beautiful spot – a wide flat lake fringed with reeds and a sandy beach.  Even If we’d had cell phones then, we wouldn’t have had any reception in a day’s march .

But it was a beautiful day under a blue sky and the crocodile story started well just after the break of day. We came across one of the village women– wrapped in colourful cloth from head to foot – with a large can on her head  at the water’s edge.

She threw rocks into the water in an attempt to scare off any crocodiles before lowering her tin tentatively into the water. We filmed her drawing water and then she told us how crocodiles had killed a number of the villagers and injured many others.

Half an hour gone ,  but no sign of a crocodile.

In the next half hour a more bizarre interview came our way. One of the men from the village accosted us and told us he had muti  (magic medicine) that he smeared on his body making him invincible against crocodiles. He proceeded to swim out into the lake to prove his point. We feared for him, but he survived the swim to make his point.

One hour gone, shooting done, but still no crocodiles.

I could just hear the voices on the news desk in Johannesburg : “Great story about crocodiles, but we didn’t see any!”

We were freelancers and the successful execution of this TV story would unlock the way to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of work.

So we had to wait. Hour after, boring hour. Eight hours sitting on the beach; every 15 minutes, or so, the cameraman would call for hush as he attempted to film an approaching crocodile. Each time, disappointment. Had we left there and then, it would have killed the story.

Then, finally, as the light faded a crocodile came gliding across the water with its long nose moving with the grace of a submarine.

We had our shot and went home to cut a great picture story.

Patience, entrepreneurs, patience; good things take time .