Pure White Hunters Safaris

Pure White Hunters Safaris

Before Africa had television sets, people entertained by holding dinner parties. To most white settlers in Kenya, missionaries were socially unacceptable whereas White Hunters were highly sought after for these dinner parties. This social scale was a serious indictment of the class system and was no reflection on the quality of those rejected or of those chosen. The missionaries would probably be relieved they were not called upon to have their good work interrupted, even for one evening a month. Before World War II, East Africa was ‘The Place’ to which European royalty went on hunting expeditions. Such expeditions suffered a decline in royal patronage after the war, but unfortunately for the wildlife of Africa, nouveau riche from the USA who had survived the Great Depression, showed up determined to shoot the Big Five. The Kenyan White Hunters were mostly European settlers of UK origin, but with a mix of others with origins in Austria, France, Belgium and Italy. These were the days when the cry of, “Boy, hand me my buffalo gun,” echoed through the bundu as the African tribesman gun-bearer served his Bwana. This cry was soon to be replaced by “Harambee,” Jomo Kenyatta’s call of, “Let us all pull together and build a nation.” The strange fact was that these professional hunters who slaughtered so much wildlife, were in other respects not cruel persons. But the fact remains that these professional white hunters chose to make a living by hunting wildlife for sport – wildlife, which even then the conservationists warned would soon become endangered, with some species even being exterminated. Now it seems unbelievable that such men...
Kathini Graham

Kathini Graham

I watched the Olympic Games 800 metres final when Kenya’s Rudisha beat the world record and won the race in spectacular fashion. Everyone, including Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram, who really know how to run that distance, said it was the best race of the Olympics. The whole Games has been exciting and a great success. The opening ceremony was regarded as most unusual, but very enjoyable. London is now winding down as the world’s visitors, including all the excellent Kenyan runners, have gone home. Well done, Kenyan athletes! News came to me recently of the death of my friend Kathini Graham. She was the daughter of Charles MacGregor Taylor, pioneer coffee planter who arrived in Kenya in 1908, and his wife Kit. Charles had come out to Kenya with a Gaiety Girl, but divorced her to marry Kit Sanderson, a great Kenya character who lived to the age of 100, the daughter of Nairobi’s first Town Clerk from 1904 to 1911, E.L. (Ted) Sanderson, a friend of the writer Joseph Conrad. Charles bought land at Lower Kabete (now the Kitisuru area) and developed the Kimari Coffee Estate. He also bought the farm Gethungwini, next to Kitimuru, the farm of Elspeth Huxley’s parents at Thika (or Chania Bridge, as it was then called). A polo ground was made at Gethungwini and all the neighbouring farmers became quite expert at the game. Elspeth Huxley’s first literary efforts were comments on the polo games for the local newspaper. It is thought that she fictionalised the Charles Taylor story in her book The Flame Trees of Thika. In the book the love affair...

The Python’s Ploy

As a little girl at Katangulu, Tanganyika Territory in the late 1940s visits from snakes of various sizes and shapes seemed to be part of our daily routine, especially during the hot months of the seasonal dry time. These periods of drought and sometimes famine brought creatures of varied sorts out from their hiding places in search for water or an easy meal near human habitation. My neighbor, Miss Lucilda Newton, was a special auntie to me as we shared the same dislike for the porridge served up on a daily basis. On a very special ‘sleep over’ she would share her precious Kellogg’s corn flakes with me – a rare treat indeed.  She was also fond of cats (so was I) and her cat had recently given birth to three adorable kittens. Not sensing any threat or danger, they were ‘housed’ in a box in the kitchen, which was a separate building from the main living quarters. During the early morning hours, a big snake slithered his way down the rocky terrain behind our small mission station (3 homesteads) searching for a tasty meal.  Having a highly sensitive tongue and sense of smell, the python picked up a familiar scent of a recent animal birth. Twisting and turning his lengthy body over the terrain, he soon found easy prey.  Silently with sleuth and shadows offering excellent camouflage, he entered our mission compound and found the three little, squirming cute kittens. The mother cat was out foraging and the baby cats were too young and innocent to know the danger that had encroached into the supposed safety of a warm basket. When...
Horace The Horned Viper

Horace The Horned Viper

In the early 70s my wife and I were teachers at the Rift Valley Academy – a school located in the highlands of Kenya. Our students came from all over East Africa so during one of the vacations periods we decided to visit some of the parents who were located in eastern Congo. Barb and I drove our old VW bug through Uganda, then ruled by the despot Idi Amin, stopping at various Game Parks on the way. Upon arriving in the Congo we drove to various mission stations where we stayed with the parents of our students. One of our final trips took us through the famous Ituri Forest. The road was a thin ribbon of red mud – permanently in the shade from the great canopy of trees. Occasionally we spotted short reddish people – pygmies who were the original inhabitants of the great jungle. Rounding a curve we met a group of pygmy hunters coming out of the jungle. They were armed with bows and arrows and one of them was carrying a loosely woven basket. They hailed us, holding up the bag so we could see its contents. I was curious so I stopped the car.  The hunters clustered around the vehicle and I looked into the basket. Inside was a large snake. It had a thick scaly body and was marked by chevrons of brilliant green, red and blue. On its V-shaped head were two long horns. I recognized it as a rhinoceros viper – a rare denizen of the jungle. It was famous for its long hinged fangs with which it could inject...
God Save Our Gracious Queen

God Save Our Gracious Queen

Readers who read Old Africa magazine and bloggers who blog may wonder why on earth Dick Hedges is duplicating an existing blog and why, known for his Leftist views, should he want any monarch saved, gracious or otherwise? To the former question you will see my blog is from a totally different aspect as the existing blog which is an informative story of how Kenya handled the first hours of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. To the latter question, the entire content of this blog is to attempt to enlighten those many persons who so wrongly believe you cannot be a committed Socialist at the same time as being a committed Loyalist. On the afternoon of February 6, 1952, long before 90 per cent of the present population alive today was even born, a beautiful young Princess climbed a tree without a care in the world and early the next morning descended the tree committed to serve her subjects faithfully for the rest of her life. Her father had died while she was sleeping in Treetops Safari Lodge in the Aberdare mountains and she had inherited the throne of Great Britain and thus became the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states (known as the Commonwealth realms) and their territories and dependencies, as well as head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. She also became Supreme Governor of the Church of England and, in some of her realms, carries the title Defender of the Faith as part of her full title. I cannot understand the logic or rather complete lack of logic shown in all the Republican arguments for the dissolution...