Magqubu and I had
surveyed all the wilderness trail
routes and completed our planning.
He 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
newspaper 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
On Monday the switchboard
of the headquarters of the Natal Parks Board was jammed with calls from people
trying to make reservations.
Wilderness trails had arrived.
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
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 charged.
This was his cinema.
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.
Magqubu thought it was
even funnier if in their haste they climbed a thorn tree.
would bob up and down and his hand would slap
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 running.
Magqubu missed nothing, and his nuances bit to
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.
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."
The 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
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
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.
Theodore Roosevelt had difficulty in
finding eight hundred bison at the turn of this century.
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 bison.
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.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "Aggressive
fighting for the right is the noblest sport the Earth affords."
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.
Carl 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. ..."
It gave Carl Jung an intense
sense of déjà vu.
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 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
psychology has influenced Western thought by making people
aware of the importance of
archetypal images in
subconscious thought and
their symbolic effect in dreams.
Africa is HUGE !!!
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