Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, September 28, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 5: WACHAGGA TALES

Oral tradition plays a strong and vital part of life anywhere, but most especially among peoples with no written language. Stories are more than a way to pass the time at the close of day when the work is done. They teach traditions to the children, they cement relationships within a group, and they pass on life lessons.

When missionary Eva Stuart-Watt, worked with the Wachagga on Kilimanjaro’s lower slopes in the 1920’s, she documented some of their oral tradition in her book “Africa’s Dome of Mystery.” One of the most interesting is the Wachagga’s tale of “The Fall of Man.” She writes, “in some of their myths they have preserved faint reminiscences of the Bible record of the fall of man.”

According to the Wachagga, “God used to talk with man face to face. ‘You may eat all the bananas and potatoes’ He said to the old man of the village, ‘but the yam or ‘ula’ surely you shall not eat it, lest you die.’” God then left the village but he looked in on them from time-to-time. It seems that a stranger, a man, begged for food at the old man’s door one day. The old man sent him to the garden telling him to eat his fill but not to eat the ula (yam) as “God has forbidden us to eat it.”

Now the stranger said that the sun was high now and in that early morning, God had told him to ask for a pot to cook the ula and eat it with the old man and his sons. The old man was excited to learn that the stranger was a messenger from God, so he got a clay pot and they dug yams together, cooked them and ate. God smelled the cooked yams and asked “What are you eating?” They couldn’t answer for fear. The old man’s servant showed God the cook pot. God found the old man and the stranger in the garden and said. “’Because you were deceived by a stranger and disobeyed my word, death will break your bones and close your eyes, and you shall not live.’”

Since then, they have not seen God, nor has he talked with them.

The quoted text was taken from Africa’s Dome of Mystery, by Eva Stuart-Watt.

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro tales: The First Murder

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, September 21, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 4: WACHAGGA TALES

Missionary Eva Stuart-Watt, lived several years in the mid-1920’s, on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, working with the Wachagga and documenting their history in her book “Africa’s Dome of Mystery.” Some of this history involved the slave trade, and Zanzibar was the slave market.

Arab slavers and “half-castes” from Zanzibar had a regular slave route to and from Kilimanjaro. Ms. Stuart-Watt wrote, “Down to the base camp the dark lines of manacled men and women were forced along by the white-robed villains, who fastened each neck in the fork of a pole 7 ft. long and 3 in. in diameter, securing it there by means of a riveted iron rod. She wrote of babies being slain in front of their mother’s eyes so that the mothers could carry ivory to the coast instead of their children.

These captives were not always taken in raids. “In the slave-market, many chieftains sold even their own subjects who caused them displeasure; and in those days the usual threat of a mother to her yelling infant was, ‘Stop crying, or I’ll sell you to the Swahilis.’” (chapter 4, the Soul of Kilimanjaro)

Because of the Zanzibar slave trade, Swahili (a mixture of Arabic and Bantu languages) was introduced to Kilimanjaro and became a means of communicating with others much as it was in the Kenya Colony. It is this language that Jade speaks with the Wachagga in my work of mystery and adventure, TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH (now available in hardcover).

The image and quoted text was taken from Africa’s Dome of Mystery, by Eva Stuart-Watt.

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro tales: The Fall of Man

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, September 14, 2009

1920'S KILIMANJARO-PART 3: THE LEOPARD ON KILIMANJARO

Last week we looked into some of the first women to climb Kilimanjaro. Missionary Eva Stuart-Watt, while by no means the first, did document her climb thoroughly in her book “Africa’s Dome of Mystery.” One of her many photographs was of two Wachagga guides, Jonathon and Mikani posing at the summit, wrapped in blankets and wearing sandals on their feet. But it is what is beside them on the icy snow that attracts the most attention. The mummified remains of a leopard lie at Mikani’s feet while Jonathon sits beside it.

Ernest Hemingway wrote about this leopard in his “Snows of Kilimanjaro” though he never saw the cat himself. The body was gone by the time he flew over Kilimanjaro. But its legend lived on and became part of the mountain’s lore. What, everyone wondered, would drive a leopard up to those frozen heights, far above any prey? This very question was posed in Miss Stuart-Watts book.

“Near the top we found in a perfect state of preservation the carcase of a leopard, first discovered in the snow and dug out in 1926 by Dr. Latham of the Government Agricultural Department of Tanganyika. No one can tell what induced it to venture into a land so cold and desolate; but possibly the smell of meat carried by some safari had led it to follow their trail, until on the wild summit it perished in a snow-storm. Jonathon cut off a piece of its tail as a memento of our little expedition.”

It was the accumulation of “taking mementos” that ultimately led to the leopard’s disappearance.

I decided to put the leopard on the summit in my own work of mystery and adventure, TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH (now available in hardcover).

The image was taken from Africa’s Dome of Mystery, by Eva Stuart-Watt.

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro tales.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, September 07, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO: THE MOUNTAIN’S LORE – PART 2, WOMEN AT THE SUMMIT

In TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH, Jade climbs to the summit of Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s highest peak. But even if she were real, she wouldn’t have been the first woman to climb Kibo. That honor belongs to Gertrude Emily Benham. The London born lady was no stranger to mountains, having climbed Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. So when her parents died, leaving her with a small inheritance, she turned to traveling, always seeking another mountain to climb.

In 1909, she arrived in Africa and walked over 900 km to reach Lake Tanganyika. Not long after she braved Kilimanjaro and successfully made the summit of Kibo. No stranger to walking, Ms. Benham hiked large portions of Africa. More of her story can be read at http://www.ntz.info/gen/b00959.html

Missionary Eva Stuart-Watt (see last week’s blog) climbed to the top of Kibo sometime in 1926. Her book, Africa’s Dome of Mystery details her climb and shows an image of her posing at the rim.

The image was taken from Africa’s Dome of Mystery, by Eva Stuart-Watt.

NEXT WEEK: The famed frozen leopards on Kilimanjaro.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009 in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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