THURSDAY, 15 MAY
1.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Answer all questions.
30 marks are allocated to this paper.
Read the passage carefully and then answer all the questions, using your own words as far as possible.
The questions will ask you to show that:
you understand the main ideas and important details in the passage—in other words, what the writer has said (Understanding—U);
you can identify, using appropriate terms, the techniques the writer has used to get across these ideas—in other words, how he has said it (Analysis—A); you can, using appropriate evidence, comment on how effective the writer has been—in other words, how well he has said it (Evaluation—E).
A code letter (U, A, E) is used alongside each question to identify its purpose for you. The number
SA X115/201 6/29970
Afar, far away
Matthew Parris describes the harsh conditions of life in North Africa, and suggests what may be in store for the region and the nomadic (wandering) people who live there. At the beginning of this month I was in a hellish yet beautiful place. I was making a programme for Radio 4 about one of the world’s most ancient trade routes. Every year, since (we suppose) at least the time of the Ancient Greeks, hundreds of thousands of camels are led, strung together in trains, from the highlands of Ethiopia into the Danakil 5 depression: a descent into the desert of nearly 10,000 feet, a journey of about 100 miles. Here, by the edge of a blue-black and bitter salt lake, great floes of rock salt encrusting the mud are prised up, hacked into slabs and loaded on to the camels. Then the camels and their drivers make the climb through dry mountains back into the highlands, where the slabs are bound with tape and distributed across the Horn of 10 Africa. The camels drink only twice on their journey, walking often at night, and carrying with them straw to eat on the way back. Their drivers bring only dry bread, sugar and tea.
Travelling with the camel trains in mid-winter, when temperatures are bearable, I found the experience extraordinarily moving. But my thoughts went beyond the salt trade, and 15 were powerfully reinforced by the journey that followed it—to another desert, the Algerian Sahara.
These reflections were first prompted by a chance remark that could not have been more wrong. Our superb Ethiopian guide, Solomon Berhe, was sitting with me in a friendly but flyblown village of sticks, stones, cardboard and tin in Hamed Ela, 300ft below sea 20 level, in a hot wind, on a hot night. An infinity of stars blazed above. The mysterious lake was close, and when the wind changed you could smell the sulphur blowing from a range of bubbling vents of gas, salt and super-heated steam. On the horizon fumed the volcano, Hertale. With not a blade of grass in sight, and all around us a desert of black rocks, the Danakil is a kind of inferno. How the Afar people manage to live in 25 this place, and why they choose to, puzzles the rest of Ethiopia, as it does me. “But,” said Solomon, scratching one of the small fly-bites that were troubling all of us, “if we could return here in 50 years, this village would be different. There will be streets, electricity, and proper buildings. As Ethiopia modernises, places like this will be made more comfortable for people. Hamed Ela will probably be a big town.” 30 And that is where Solomon was wrong. As Ethiopia modernises, the Afar will leave their desert home. They will drift into the towns and cities in the highlands. Their voracious herds of goats will die. Their camels will no longer be of any use. The only remembrance this place will have of the humans it bred will be the stone fittings of their flimsy, ruined stick huts, and the mysterious black rock burial mounds that litter the 35 landscape.
There is no modern reason for human beings to live in such places. Their produce is pitiful, the climate brutal...
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