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
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 morning.
On Monday the switchboard of
the headquarters of the Natal Parks Board was jammed with calls from humans
trying to make reservations.
Wilderness trails had arrived.
For the first time in the history of modern South Africa, humans 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 the
March 19, 1959, Magqubu and I lead the first
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 humans 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
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 humans
going up the trees, their shouting and their running.
I was to witness
this many times.
It was for him hilarious to see white humans 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 humans 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 humans 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 humans 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 humans are
gripped by its strange, brooding spirit. The ancient
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.
speak of Africa and golden
the joy of wandering
through lonely lands;
joy of hunting the mighty and terrible lords of the
these greatest of the Earth's great hunting grounds there are
whose snows are
dazzling under the equatorial sun;
lakes like seas; skies that burn
mighty rivers rushing out of the
heart of the continent;
forests of gorgeous beauty, death
broods in the dark and silent
These things can be told.
There are no words that
can tell the hidden spirit of the
can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and
The large tropic
the splendor of the new stars.
Where the wanderer sees the awful
in the wide spaces of the
Earth, unworn of man,
changed only by the slow change of the
ages through time everlasting.
-Theodore Roosevelt, African Game
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.
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
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."
Many conservationists have been inspired by
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 dark
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.
"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 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 humans
aware of the importance of
archetypal images in
subconscious thought and their symbolic
effect in dreams.
Africa is HUGE !!!
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