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 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 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 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 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
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.
for him hilarious to see white humans scatter when a black rhino charged.
This was his cinema.
Magqubu was animated by this
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.
His stomach would bob up and
down and his hand would slap the
He elaborated on all the
sounds the humans made, the stifled "yips" of
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.
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 mirth.
Magqubu was never crude, but he was very
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
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
Egyptians, 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."
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,
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.
speak of Africa and golden
joy of wandering through
joy of hunting the mighty and terrible
lords of the wilderness.
greatest of the Earth's great hunting grounds there are
snows are dazzling under the equatorial
like seas; skies that
burn above deserts;
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.
wanderer sees the awful glory of
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,
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
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.
Theodore Roosevelt had difficulty in
finding eight hundred bison at the turn of this
I can imagine that in his
eye he saw once again the vast herds of
African buffalo and antelope, and the memory drove him on to
save the remaining
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
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 elephant.
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
Carl Jung wakes, traveling in a train, at
on a steep red cliff he
sees and describes in Memories, Dreams,
Reflections "a slim, brownish-black figure... motionless, leaning on a long
It gave Carl Jung an
intense sense of déjà
"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 his work.
Carl Jung's psychology has influenced Western thought by
making humans aware of
importance of archetypal
images in subconscious thought and their
symbolic effect in dreams.
Africa is HUGE !!!
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