Tag Archives: Africa

Who Shot Kukki Gallman?

I dreamed of africa

I have just finished re-reading (for probably the 6th or 7th time) one of my all-time favourite books, “I Dreamed of Africa” by Kukki Gallman and posted a review on my other site Books and More Books.

Having finished the review and posted it, I decided to see what the world was saying about Kukki Gallman now.  And horrors – I read in the Guardian UK, that she was shot on a Sunday morning in April,

We are told that on that Sunday morning, April 23,  she was keen to inspect the ruins of Mukutan Retreat, her luxury tourist lodge, which had been set ablaze the day before. She drove there, accompanied by armed Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers and one of her scouts, to find total devastation. As she said, “Ash hung in the air like snowflakes.”

Many years of living with the threat of encroachment, poachers and occasional violence had taught her caution, so the visit was brief and, as she always did, Gallmann left by a different dirt track to the one she had driven in on.

Reaching the higher plains she found a felled tree blocking the route. The Rangers had finished moving the trunk when her scout called out to her, telling her there were three people approaching, but before she could turn to look the shooting started and she was hit in the lower abdomen as she sat in her Land Cruiser. She was hit again and three more shots hit the car before the Rangers chased away the ambushers.

Following the shooting, she spent a fortnight in hospital before being discharged to convalesce in her house in Nairobi. But she says she is not yet truly home.

She longs for Ol Ari Nyiro, “The Place of Dark Springs”, an 88,000-acre nature reserve in Kenya’s central highlands overlooking the Great Rift Valley, where her husband and son are buried.  In recent months this quiet, peaceful reserve has become embroiled in a violent struggle between the private landowners and the semi-nomadic herders. But though her wounds from the shooting are grievous she is determined to go back and fight.

“As soon as I’m allowed I will go back,” she says. Her doctors tell her that she is not yet strong enough and security officers advise her it is not yet safe, but “in my heart, I’m there,” she says.”

This is a different photo.
Not one of a trophy hunter having killed a defenceless animal but
one of a distraught Kukki with a killed elephant.

Kukki

Sad story: Gallmann with an elephant killed by poachers on her land. Photograph: AFP

In earlier times, I followed Kukki and her daughter in their conservation quest and now feel sorrow for this woman who has faced sorrow in the loss of her husband and son and now could lose her beloved home or even her life.

Get well soon Kukki and go back to your home in the hopes that peace will return once again.

And always, Zig has a quote –

“It’s not how far you fall,
but how high you bounce that counts.”
― Zig Ziglar Author, salesman and
Motivational speaker 1926-2012

 

 

I Know This Place

Have you ever been transported by someone’s words to a place that you have never visited but somehow you feel you know?  Is it the magic of the words that so cleverly, and it seems effortlessly, transport you to another place?

Today when reading the blogs that I follow and some that I don’t, I stumbled across this post The View at the End of the Day on Vision and Verb.  This is the first time I have found and read anything here but reading those words, I could feel the heat; the still dry air; that wind clearing out the air in the house and the palpable longing for  ‘just an inch of rain’.   And in that moment I realised that the mark of a good writer is the ability to transport somebody to a place they have never been.  And in reading about it make them feel that they know the place and that they are there.  Eliza who wrote this post, has that magical ability.

Having never been to Africa I know of it only through stories and films.  One of my favourite books is that written by Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke.  This is the story of her life in Africa in the early part of the 20th Century.  Out of Africa was made into a film in 1985 starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and the opening line from that movie “I had a farm in Africa” is imprinted on my mind.

However, Eliza obviously lives there and through her writing I will learn more of this distant, mysterious continent.  Thank you Eliza and please keep writing, describing your life and your country for us.

A Life Being Well lived

“I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far you cannot get above it or beyond it.”
Beryl Markham, (26 October 1902 – 3 August 1986)  British-born Kenyan aviatrix, adventurer, and racehorse trainer.

I discovered Kuki Gallman when browsing in the airport bookstore for something to read on the long flight to London.  This was way back in 1996.

Kuki Gallman is an Italian writer and poet. Born in Treviso, Veneto, she moved to Kenya in 1972 with her second husband and son (from her first marriage) and is now a Kenyan citizen.

The book I discovered was “I Dreamed of Africa and this book was made into a film in 2000 starring Kim Basinger. In this her first book, Kuki Gallman tells of her ongoing fascination with Africa.  She tells of being given an essay to write when she was 12 years old.  The theme was what she wanted to do and be in 20 years time.   The teacher dismissed her essay with the words “Why did you have to write about Africa?”  Her response (copied verbatim from the book) “But I do want to live in Africa.  I do not want to stay here all my life.  One day I shall go to Africa.  I shall send you a postcard from there, signora in twenty years time.

Twenty years later, I did”.

Her book tells her story of traveling to Africa with her second husband,her son, Emanuele  and the two daughters he had with his late wife.  The two girls were sent home but Kuki, Paulo and Emanuele loved Africa and stayed.

The book tells of finding the perfect place to live and the dangers and thrills of setting up life in a totally different country, where they neither spoke the language or knew the local customs.

“Between 1972 and 1980 they acquired Ol Ari Nyiro, a 100,000 acre (400 km²) cattle ranch, on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, in Northern Kenya where they created the first ever anti poaching squad to protect the largest population of Black Rhino in Africa and large populations of elephants, buffalo and leopards. Kuki became deeply involved with conservation.”( Wikipedia).

Kiki  had a daughter in 1980.  Paolo, her husband had been killed  in an automobile accident shortly before the child was born.  He had decided to have a crib made for the new child and while bringing it home for their unborn baby was killed when a lorry crossed into his lane.  This was the first death.

Black Mamba

Her son Emanuele was fascinated by and loved snakes.  Three years later (at only 17) he died of a snake bite while trying to extract viper venom for antiserum.

Kuki founded the Gallmann Memorial Foundation in honor of Paolo and Emanuele and has dedicated her life to saving the environment and wildlife of Kenya.  She still lives in Kenya with her daughter, Sveva Makena Gallman , who is also involved in conservation and helping African children preserve their heritage.

The second book, “A Night of Lions” I discovered a few months later.  This an illustrated collection of stories about the African land and people.  In reading this book you get the feel of her total love of the land and its people.

I strongly recommend both these books to you.  In particular, I loved “I Dreamed of Africa”.  It captured me from the outset and I hope it will capture you too.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
Flavia Weedn, American author and artist.

Flamingo

Photo – Steffan Foerster