JACOB'S EMAILS FROM AFRICA
EMAILS FROM AFRICA [parts 5/6]
Sun, 22 May 2005
So, having finished my volunteer work in Uganda it was time for some R'n'R. I delved into the kit my Saville Row man provided for this very purpose and found the safari jacket and pith helmet.
As that sound tailor promised, this has enabled me to blend in wonderfully here.
Why, from the way some of the natives talk to me in whatever barbaric tongue they speak here I'd swear they mistake me for one of them sometimes!!
I must remember to tip him handsomely next time I go to have a waistband let out.
Anyway, my first stop was an island in Lake Victoria.
The transport was somewhat rudimentary but I managed to buy a lifejacket off a poor-looking chap before the boat set off so I wasn't too worried.
We arrived at the island in the dark, to be greeted by a roaring fire lit by the White Kenyan who runs the place. He was a sound man indeed, and not afraid to use wonderfully descriptive terms like 'golliwog' for the natives.
In fact he pointed out something I hadn't thought of before: that NGO workers in these lands are a curse and a menace.
They come here, as this chap said, competing to see how many nig-nog babies they can save, and all they are doing is worsening the population explosion that will eventually cause mass famine.
His reasoning was sound and it put me right on a number of issues I had been confused about.
He was a fascinating chap for stories too, regaling me with a tale of how he had sailed the dhow he built himself in Zambia up to Entebbe from his home island.
The journey there took him 4 hours. The journey back was against the wind and took him 11 days.
The joke of it was that he couldn't turn back to Entebbe no matter how much he wanted to, because his native crew, having had a night of shore leave there, had - to a man - landed themselves in prison for drinking and whoring without adequate funds.
He had obtained their release only with a promise to the chief of police that he would never again let them loose in Entebbe. That journey signalled the end of his sailing days apparently.
The next day the man revealed his particular vice: an addiction to cannabis such as I have never known in any man.
It appears to be not too debilitating however and - though I had not indulged since the time of my youthful follies - I gladly joined him in consuming tea made from the cannabis plant.
That day I had many strange dreams, and my mind wandered in places it had never been before. It was some time before I was able to speak to anyone again.
I returned from the island to a night of wild abandon in Kampala, the capital of this place. Imagine my pleasure at discovering that the city has a fine British pub, reproduced down to the last detail!
And it was full of very accommodating young ladies too! So wondrous a place was this that I believe only my rapid departure from the city the very next day saved me from a lifetime of servitude to its delights.
From there I went forth to a lake near the Rwandan border.
Twas a pretty, delightful place, and having commandeered the only sailing vessel on the lake I there exercised my rusty maritime skills, causing the natives much amazement in the process!
Their dugout canoes looked very backward in comparison to my racing dinghy I can tell you.
From thence I hiked to Kigali in Rwanda, a mean, paltry attempt at a capital city if the truth be told.
Life goes on in a Rwandan market
Very quickly I left for the North and a fine range of volcanoes where it is possible to see mountain gorillas.
However I had carelessly left my walking cane in my trunk in Nairobi so felt distinctly ill-equipped to face that challenge.
Instead I took a walk around the nearby town, admiring the fertile soil of the surrounding hills and wondering at the labour possibilities laying dormant in the friendly and compliant peoples of the area.
So carried away did I become with my plans that I even went to inspect the nearby military base to see what kind of resistance they would offer to a business-minded occupying force.
Their defences were pitiful. I wandered up the hill upon which the troops were stationed, pretending to be a confused tourist trying to look at the view.
The soldiers didn't notice me until I had almost reached their collection of rickety iron shacks at the top.
Upon seeing me they initially tried to send me off back down to the town, but when I apologised like a good tourist and turned around they called me back and proceeded to give me a guided tour of the hill and its defences.
It would take perhaps 10 Ghurka mercenaries with only light weaponry to take it. The chap showing me round had the cheek to ask for money at the end of the tour, but I shall have the last laugh I think.
My next jaunt was into the Congo.
I am bound to say that the Belgians, usually a sound if dull bunch, have made rather a mess of the country.
I suspect the natives regret that they weren't a British colony.
Goma, Congo was swamped by rivers of lava in 2002. Much of the town is
Only one town in the country is currently safe for the vacationing gentlemen - Goma, renowned for having carelessly got itself buried under streams of lava in 2002.
Someone really needs to teach these natives where to build their towns - on this point too the Belgians seem to have rather let the side down. Still, the sight of houses with the first floor on the ground floor was a most entertaining one!
My travels have now brought me back to Uganda and the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon.
They are horribly unpleasant to climb so I shall refrain from doing so, contenting myself with a visit to a nearby crater lake on the morrow.
My manservant helpfully packed my riding crop so I hope to ride there with my porters - if the natives can ride that is. Nothing would surprise me about these savages.
More news anon.
Alfred 'Rhino-Killer' Buzzleby-Hambledon
EMAILS FROM AFRICA VI
Africa killed my beard trimmer
Tue, 31 May 2005
So, I leave Africa today, the 31st of May, after three months on the dark continent.
I haven't been mugged, robbed, raped, bitten by a snake, held hostage by crazed killers, tarred and feathered or beaten by secret police, and have avoided typhoid, bilharzia (to my knowledge), hookworm, flatworm, e.coli, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, bedbugs and killer wasps.
My one mild case of malaria was beaten off without any problems.
- One Pixies t-shirt, left behind on an island in Lake Victoria while under the influence of drugs
- My beard trimmer, suffering from a terminal case of Ugandan shower gel because Ugandan shower gel bottles lack the containing capacities vital to any good bottle.
- My virginity. Not really.
- My arse, which will never quite recover from the bus journeys.
- My towel, left behind in Nairobi under the influence of nothing at all.
I have visited five countries, discovered that you can't learn much about traditional Africa without living in villages, failed to live in any villages, seen lots of monkeys and no gorillas, lived in a town for three weeks and eaten lots of mashed bananas and been asked for money so many times that if I had a dollar for every time I'd been asked I'd now be a rich man.
I have heartlessly turned down all marriage requests, visa requests and bribe requests.
I have made a few friends, a few enemies and lost most of my conscience. I have heard tales of depravity and vice that would make you shudder; a few of them didn't feature myself.
I am slightly browner, redder and blonder than before, have a more straggly beard due to trimming it with nail scissors and have not cut my hair for three months.
I am infinitely wiser, stronger and more patient than when I left and if those of you in London don't ring me up within a week of my return I'll cut you out of my will.
Yours, with ego burned away by the endless agony of Ethiopian buses
A Humble Traveller