My sister and I spent most of our childhood in Africa, West and East, from 1959 to 1971 with a brief interlude in Amsterdam. What you learn as a child stays with you always. Above: munching elephant in Uganda, Murchison Falls, source of the Nile, 1969.
White rhinos, Uganda, 1969. The term “white” is a misnomer, a deformation of the Afrikaans “Wid”, which means “wide”. “White rhinos have a wide, square upper lip, and that’s where the name comes from. I will not dwell again on the massacre of rhinos in Africa. Suffice it to say there probably won’t be any left in the wild in bit a few years.
“Stuck in the mud”. Amboseli National Park, Kenya, 1968. Number one rule on safari: never, I mean never, get out of the car. We’d just spent 2 hours with the cars stuck in the mud. Rule number 2: don’t do a safari during the rainy season. Stuck. Push. Move. Stuck again. etc. The cars had finally managed to get away to drier road, and my mother and I were walking to the cars. Barefoot if I recall.
“Look who’s here.” Half an hour later, this lonesome lioness was on the prowl. She could have been behind a bush a few miles back… Follow protocol… Always.
Buffaloes, Murchison Falls, Uganda, 1969. The stretch of water is the Nile, near one of its sources.
Murchison Falls again. One of the most spectacular cataracts I’ve ever seen. Uganda, 1969.
L. to r. My mother and sister. Murchison falls. Those barriers were not exactly up to standards in terms of security. 😉 My mother is holding her super 8 mm camera. She left hours and hours of film, all mounted. I’ve just begun the digitizing process. (That’s gonna take a while)
Elephant on the Nile. Murchison Falls. We took a boat on the river to approach the cataracts. All sorts of wildlife on the banks.
Parklands sports club, Nairobi, Kenya, 1968. On the left my sister and parents. On the right, two journalists from the French TV, come to Kenya to shoot a documentary. And be invited by my father to a game of tennis at the Club. It does sound weird now, but such were the days. We spent most of our free time at the club, when not on safari. I know, I was born with a silver racket in my mouth…
A young elephant at the lodge, early morning, Murchison Falls. It was less than a few yards away.
Walking away… A “young” elephant, by the size of tusks, but a big guy all the same…
With Hector the Hedgehog, in the garden, Nairobi, c.1968. It was a wild, very cute thing. They’re easy to catch, you just have to wait patiently until it unfurls… The shirt? Yes. Pink. I know. 🙂 (Some of the colours we wore!…)
Crocodile on the Nile…
Crocodile rock. (Scanned from a faded negative)
More of the same. There were probably thousands of crocodiles on the stretch from the lodge to the falls. Rule number 3: stay in the boat.
Murchison Falls from downstream.
I have featured those hippos before. (And a few other pix I think). As the pilot took the boat closer and closer, he didn’t realize there was a baby hippo.
While most of the hippos fled to the ground the one in the foreground turned around and charged the boat underwater, hitting us with all its weight. between 3,000 and 10,000 lbs. 1.4 to 4.5 metric tons… dumb pilot had to put in reverse fast…
My sister with “Minette”, our resident feline, in the garden of our house. Nairobi, Kenya, 1969. The outfit is soooo sixties… Electric blue if I recall.
I write this post as billions of human beings are slowly going into lockdown. Until this clears, stay safe.
“Unlockdown” is starting. In many places. It has become a case of economic survival. I also think it has been an accumulation of bad decisions and political incompetence almost everywhere. But, hey! That’s just me. Whatever you hear? Just stay safe.
*Part of the Mzungu** chronicles.
**Mzungu, plural: wazungu. Mzungu is a Bantu (Swahili) word used throughout East Africa from Uganda to Kenya to Tanzania to Zambia and in the great lakes region, from Rwanda, Burundi, to Congo Kinshasa. It means “white man”, or woman. The origin of the name dates back to the 18th-19th century, when European explorers came to East Africa searching for the source of the Nile, the gold mines of Solomon, or the Mountains of the moon, what have you. It literally means traveller or wanderer. Africans then, could not understand why Europeans could not stay in place, why they had to move all the time. They thought Europeans were a tad crazy. Mimi na mzungu!