Baboons

Baboons

get link by | Jul 3, 2012 | Jon Arensen |

In 1952 I lived in Tanganyika with my missionary parents. We lived rough, setting up tents in a forested peninsula on the shores of lake Victoria. The area had recently been opened to homesteaders and hundreds of Sukuma people were in the process of clearing trees and planting garden. But the area also teemed with wildlife and gardening with animals in the nearby forest was problematic. The biggest problem for the farmers was – BABOONS! These terrestrial monkeys were clever and quickly learned there was tasty food to be found in the fields. A large troop of baboons could ruin a field of corn or sweet potatoes in a few minutes.  They did not just eat a little, but pulled up whole sweet potato vines and left them to die.  They would also pick a number of ears of corn and take one bite out of each.  When the baboons left the field they would carry as many ears as they could, holding them in their hands and stuck under their armpits.  Near harvest time the Sukuma men would build platforms in their fields and sit there all day with stones and slings trying to chase the baboons away.  Male baboons are large primates with formidable canine teeth, longer than that of a lion.  Baboons tended to stay away from a field if a man was the guard on the platform.  But the baboons could distinguish a man from women or children.  When the latter were guarding the field, the baboons would jump up and down and show their teeth. The women and children then ran and abandoned the...
New Old Africa blogger!

New Old Africa blogger!

by | Jul 3, 2012 | Jon Arensen |

Hey Friends, After 15 years I am retiring from my teaching post here a Houghton College. It has been a great job and I have enjoyed the hundreds of students who have patiently listened to my anthropological stores about Africa. I have especially enjoyed the spring semesters abroad, taking students to Tanzania and introducing them to Africa. Many people have asked me what I plan to do in my retirement. I am not the sort of person who wants to just play golf and watch TV. Barb and I will continue to travel and I will give lectures, do some consulting and continue to take photos of wildlife. A number of people have asked me to write a blog. At first I resisted since I am a bit late in coming to terms with modern technology. But after some serious thought I have decided to give it a try. I am going to start by writing a blog every 2 weeks. I will not write about my daily life and state that I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast. Instead I will focus these blogs on stories from my life in Africa. Some of these stories will be adaptations of stories from my memoir “Drinking the Wind” and other books I have written. Others will be new stories or illustrations from my anthropological lectures. I will start with short stories, but perhaps later I will post some longer papers that are more philosophical, political or Christian in nature. So plan to check my Blog every 2 weeks. And give me some feedback so I know what you think.  ...