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, October 26, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 9: AN EARLY SHOPPING CENTER ON KILIMANJARO

In Jade’s 1920 adventure, TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH, she stopped at the rail town of Moshi before moving on to the base camp. Once at base camp, supplies had to be purchased from the local Wachagga villages. Eva Stuart-Watt, who lived on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro for several years in the mid 1920’s, provided a model for such a village.

She wrote in her book, Africa’s Dome of Mystery, about the “miniature shopping centre” that sat on the eastern side of Marangu near the river Una. The village was approached by a make-shift bridge built up of unmortared stones, a bridge which fell apart whenever the Una ran full. The village didn’t consist of much, “four little thatched houses.” Two served as butcher shops, “one as a general store, and a fourth as a wayside inn, called by the Wachagga, ‘The Marangu Hotel’.”

In the general store, one could buy eggs, simple clothing, boots, and various ironware such as hoes. Other household goods such as tea, sugar, cheap blankets and hurricane lamps were also available. In the doorway was a picture of the Dutchess of York and handing underneath was a sign written in Swahili. It translated as “Flee from the wrath th come.”

Most of the butcher shops purchased cattle from the Maasai that lived on the plains farther down. But if you had your own animal and needed a place to transform it into meat, the shop owners would rent the shop and its tools to you for two shillings. Meat sold at the rate of seven pounds for a florin.

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

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro lore.
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, October 19, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 8: THE BANANA’S IMPORTANCE

Most cultures have some staple food that forms the basis of the meals. We equate Asian food with rice, Irish and Germans with the potato, and Mexican and some North American Indian cuisine with maize. For the Wachagga on Kilimanjaro, the plantain upheld the role of a food staple.

In the villages that dotted the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, every married man had his own plot of land which was either passed down from father to son or given to him by the Wachagga chief as a gift when the man purchased a wife. Grains and a coffee tree occupied part of the land as did yams, but plantain trees held the most ground. Not only was it food of itself, but when fermented, it formed a thick beer. If the plantains were green, they were boiled or baked as a vegetable much like a potato. “The unripe fruit, too, may be dried in the smoke of a fire, then ground to powder and made into a hard biscuit; so it supplies his family with bread.”

Parts of the plant became fodder for cattle, goats, and sheep. The leaves made bedding, and the “tough, withered covering of the banana stem is used by the Mchagga to thatch his house and to make such string as he needs.”

The wide, cylindrical trunk worked as a conduit pipe to run water from the streams to the gardens and, when cut in half down the length, could be dragged full of supplies as a sort of wheel barrow. Even storms weren’t a problem since a broad leaf formed a five foot umbrella.

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

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro lore.
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

Jade del Cameron, 1920, Africa, Tanganyika, Tanzania, Eva Stuart-Watt, Kilimanjaro, Treasure of the Golden Cheetah, Wachagga, banana, plantain

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Monday, October 12, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 7: THE MAGICAL KIKORWI

Imagine yourself in the position of Ngowi, son of Lyimo, a Wachagga leader who had battled tirelessly but to no avail against the even stronger chief, Mangi Mmori. Now the old man Lyimo lay dying. He charged his son, Ngowi, to fight on “in your youth and vigour” and “rest not until you are chief of the whole of Marangu (a section of Kilimanjaro). The enemy, Mangi Mmori was also old, but he, too, had a son. So the fighting that had gone on for years would continue.

Now the young Ngowi, was up against difficult, almost impossible odds. Not only was Mangi Mmori’s son powerful on his own, he also had 3 vassal chiefs aiding him. Ngowi had none. And one of those vassal chiefs had a giant snail named Kikorwi that could resurrect the dead warriors and heal the injured ones when he came out onto the battlefield at night. So while Ngowi lost men in every battle, his enemy kept his. There was only one thing for Ngowi to do, slay the magic snail. But how?

Subterfuge was the answer. Ngowi sent a beautiful girl into the enemy territory. He hoped that the vassal chief would see her and take her into his household as a maid. Once inside the “royal circle” she could discover where the snail, Kikorwi lived. The plan worked. The girl not only was found and taken to the chief, she was shown the rocky sanctuary where Kikorwi slept during the day.

One night, “when the moon shown fitfully behind scudding clouds,” she slipped out to the snail’s lair and killed it before escaping back to Ngowi. Now, Ngowi could wage war against the vassal chief on even terms.

The Chagga people still have a proverb which began that night: “Lay bare your heart to a woman, and she will burn you in the fire.”

The quoted text 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, October 05, 2009

1920’s KILIMANJARO PART 6: THE FIRST MURDER

The Wachagga people of Kilimanjaro call God, Ruwa and, in the old days before the first sin, Ruwa spoke to them. Later, Ruwa still sent them warnings and eventually destroyed the world He made. Among their oral traditions is that of the first murder.

The old man, who had spoken to God before eating the forbidden yams, had a son and two grandsons. Each grandson was given their own goats and each day the boys cut down branches from the forest for the goats to feed on. Now, the goats that belonged to the second born of the twins always gave birth to twins and so his herd grew rapidly. The goats of the first born twin only bore one kid at a time. As is to be expected, this disparity caused jealousy and hatred between the brothers, but their father would not interfere. And, as in the Cain and Abel story, fratricide was the result; the eldest brother murdering his more fortunate brother.

Here the story diverges from the Biblical Cain and Abel story. Ruwa did hear the cried of the slain brother and sent His servant to investigate. God’s servant did this and fined the murderer “seven head of cattle, seven goats, and a daughter. These were handed over to the victim’s father and the girl worked for his mother as long as she lived. So from that day to now, the price of blood has been seven cows, seven goats, and one child.”

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

NEXT WEEK: More Kilimanjaro tales: The magic snail

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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