SAFARI. To most people this means an expedition of sorts out into the bush country to either hunt or photograph wild animals. The word simply means “journey.” So if a man needed to leave his village and walk to another village, perhaps a day’s walk away, he was making a safari. The concept caught on with the settlers who managed to take along far more than the average African native did on any journey.
Elspeth Huxley gives a good account of the planning and preparation that went into a pre-WWI safari. She writes of her mother roasting chickens and making marmalade to contribute to the foodstuffs and also preparing homemade lotions to heal insect bites, prevent sunburn, and stop wounds from becoming infected. Rather a handy lotion to do all that.
Settlers needed a lot when they went away, something I’m reminded of whenever we decide to go camping. Besides tents, cots, and food, there was a need for tables and chairs, tin bathtubs, bedrolls, lanterns, lantern oil, clothing, ammunition, cooking pots, dinner plates and dinner ware. Obviously, this was too much for a pack animal to carry.
Natives were hired to act as porters, carrying the goods. But porters must be fed. If meat eating Africans were hired, part of the problem was solved as long as someone in the safari was a decent shot and there was game around. Not all tribes consumed meat on a regular basis, however. The Kikuyu, while eating the occasional goat, lived mainly on produce from their gardens and grains. This meant the necessity of bringing along food for the porters and more porters to carry the food for the porters. Longer trips sometimes necessitated hauling supplies ahead by ox-cart and leaving caches to be picked up along the way.
These earlier safaris were taken either on foot, or on horseback. By Martin and Osa Johnson’s time, the automobile proved its usefulness.
NEXT WEEK: SAFARIS PART 1
Labels: Elspeth Huxley, Martin and Osa Johnson, safari, WWI