Magqubu and I had
surveyed all the wilderness trail routes and completed our planning.
knew what was at stake because he would be the eyes and ears of the trail
party, and if anything went wrong on the first trail, in bureaucratic language,
we would be for the chop as there were, however, still officials who
opposed the trails.
Parks Board head office reported that no one in the public had shown any
interest in making a reservation.
There were the usual news stories too
of how we were stopping development of tourist camps.
Roy Rudden, a
friend on the Sunday
Times, took some beautiful photographs in the game reserve and wrote a story
called "Adventure at a Pound a Day."
Placards emblazoned with these
words appeared throughout South
Africa on a Sunday morning.
Monday the switchboard of the headquarters of the Natal Parks Board was jammed
with calls from people trying to make reservations.
For the first time in the history of modern
South Africa, people were going to
be walking trails in the wilderness inside a game reserve among wild animals
and sleeping out on the veld.
This was a revolutionary
Heretofore visitors to game reserves and national parks
throughout most of eastern and southern Africa were required to stay in a
vehicle and many bureaucrats were against the idea of allowing trailists into
On March 19, 1959, Magqubu and I
lead the first official wilderness trail in the Mfolozi game reserve for the
Natal Parks Board.
It was the culmination of many years of hard work
and the start of a new dimension in wildlife
Magqubu led the trail party of six people along the steep
path down from Momfu Cliffs to the
Mpafa River, then followed the rhino paths south to Mahobosheni, where the
donkeys had taken the mess kit and the tents.
It was getting
dark, and we all relaxed because we
only had a hundred meters to walk to the camp.
There was a faint sound
in a nearby wallow, and I turned to see the glint of light on the horn of a
Before I could even shout the black rhino came
storming toward us, snorting and crashing
through the bush.
The trailists performed undreamed of physical
achievements, pulling themselves up into trees with one hand or scattering in
all directions, shouting at the tops of their voices.
When the black
rhino had gone and everyone was together again, we found no one was hurt beyond
a few scratches and a sprain, Magqubu said, "The amadhlozi were with us today."
I knew he was right, because if the
black rhino had killed anyone, the bureaucrats who were against the trails
would have ensured the concept died an early death.
Later in the evening Magqubu laughed and laughed.
He showed how
the black rhino charged and the acrobatics of the people going up the trees,
their shouting and their running.
I was to witness this many times.
It was for him hilarious to see white people scatter when a black rhino
This was his cinema.
Magqubu was animated by this
category of excitement, and in
later years when we were on trails he liked nothing more than to see people
running pell mell for the trees when a black rhino threatened.
thought it was even funnier if in their haste they climbed a thorn tree.
His stomach would bob up and down and his hand would slap the earth.
He elaborated on all the sounds the people made, the stifled "yips" of
fear, the swear words when thorns hooked into flesh, the different actions when
Magqubu missed nothing, and his nuances bit to the bone.
If anyone ever farted in fear, he really had a field day.
His descriptive powers were used until
everyone was screaming with laughter, and he would walk ahead of the group
making the farting noise with his lips, his shoulders shaking with
Magqubu was never crude, but he was very basic.
I did not
dare tell some of the people the names Magqubu gave them - they would have been
Magqubu's eyes and ears missed nothing, and the
names were often unpalatably true.
Throughout history men and women have
been entranced by wild Africa.
It has great depth of soul, and people
are gripped by its strange, brooding spirit.
Greeks, Arabs, and
Romans took expeditions into its
The Arabs said, "Once you have tasted of the waters of
Africa, you need to return to have your fill thereof."
Romans said, "Ex Africa semper
aliquid novi" (Out of Africa always something new). Part of their empire
extended into North Africa, and they were affected by the rhythms of this
ancient continent. They captured many wild animals - lion, rhino, and elephant
- and took them across the Mediterranean to the great Coliseum: They used
cannabis to calm the animals.
The old wild Africa influenced many of
the great men and women of our time. Theodore Roosevelt, president of the US,
hunted frequently in Uganda, and he remembered it always.
F. C. Selous was Theodore
Roosevelt's guide, and he had once hunted at Ndumu. He had a great influence on
Theodore Roosevelt's life. They spent weeks together in the African wilderness
hunting rare species for the Smithsonian Institution.
One can imagine
the long conversations they had around the fire at night, with lions roaring,
hyena whooping, elephants trumpeting, jackals screaming. In the
morning, when the thermals swirled, they
would have listened to the fish eagle, its long call piercing the stillness and
echoing over the lakes,
forests, and swamps.
Theodore Roosevelt was
the rock upon which the conservation movement was built in the USA, and it was
due to him that America became the leader in environmental protection, the
establishment of national parks, and wildlife management. You need only glance
at the index of Bill S 1176, the 1957 Senate hearings about the National
Wilderness Preservation Act, to see the profound influence Theodore Roosevelt
had on conservation in the US. He foresaw the conservation problems that were
to face America.
Theodore Roosevelt was the driving force in the
America Bison Society. It was
estimated that there were sixty million bison on the plains when Lewis and
Clark crossed the North American continent in the early 1800s.
Roosevelt had difficulty in finding eight hundred bison at the turn of this
I can imagine that in his
mind's eye he saw once
again the vast herds of African
buffalo and antelope, and the memory drove him on to save the remaining
In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt brought all the state governors in
the United States of America to a conservation conference, and it was from this
conference that the National Park Service became established in 1916.
There is hardly a country on Earth today that does not have a national
park, and the African experience of Theodore Roosevelt was the motivating
force. Theodore Roosevelt and F. C. Selous kept up a correspondence until F. C.
Selous was killed by a sniper's bullet in Tanganyika in World War I.
Roosevelt said, "Aggressive fighting for the right
is the noblest sport the Earth affords."
Many conservationists have
been inspired by these words.
Why is it that so many people have been
caught in the spiritual web of Africa?
Is it not because it was here
that mankind took its first steps and emerged from the
forests to walk upright into the
In a BBC interview with John Freeman, Carl Gustav Jung said,
"We do not come onto the Earth tabula rasa."
Three million years of
evolution in Africa is imprinted upon the
human psyche, and perhaps this leads to a deep yearning to return, to see the
red earth, to hear the cry of the fish
eagle, the roar of the lion, and the scream of the
Carl Jung was
another man whose life was changed by the African experience.
In the autumn of 1925 Carl Jung visited Kenya and Uganda.
Carl Jung came to learn, before it was too late, something about the
archetypal nature of mankind.
Jung wakes, traveling in a train, at
sunrise, and on a steep red
cliff he sees and describes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections "a slim,
brownish-black figure... motionless, leaning on a long spear. ..."
gave Carl Jung an intense sense of
"I could not guess what string within myself was plucked at the sight
of that solitary dark hunter. I knew
only that his Earth had been mine for countless millennia." - Carl
Carl Jung had reconnected with his own interior Africa, and he
always referred to Africa as "God's country."
For the rest of his life
Carl Jung emphasized how important the African experience had been to him and
Carl Jung's psychology has influenced Western thought by
making people aware of the importance of archetypal images in
subconscious thought and
their symbolic effect in dreams.
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