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.
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