Nine Faces of Kenya

Elspeth Huxley

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0140149856

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Drawing on her knowledge of Kenya and its literature, Huxley presents a fully rounded portrait of a nation, its peoples and wildlife, history and landscape, and the men and women who made their mark upon it. Isak Dinesen, Ernest Hemingway, the Leakeys, Beryl Markham, Winston Churchill, Evelyn Waugh, and Theodore Roosevelt are among the many writers in this classic anthology.

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Some even allow it to pass within 150 yards of them, merely looking up curiously and then resuming grazing. Were the train, however, to stop, they would at once take the precaution to move a little further off. The Land of Zinj C. H. Stigand. In those days there was a certain casual atmosphere about the railway which disappeared for ever after the war. The railway was a social institution as well as a method of transport. A train would nearly always stop to allow a passenger to get out and photograph giraffe or to watch a herd of elephant striding across the plain.

So the Maasai lost out. Nowhere can the way of the nomad ultimately resist the way of the settler of whatever colour, with his villages and towns and the web of civilization that he spins. No one foresaw the enormous increase in population that followed the introduction of colonial rule. The abolition of the slave trade, of inter-tribal wars, of famines, of epidemics such as smallpox, bubonic plague and sleeping sickness, above all a drastic reduction in infant mortality – these and other factors led to a fourfold rise in population in the colonial period, a rise that has escalated ever since.

This fresh defeat of all our expectations was like a revelation to us: and like some threatening spectre rose up before our minds the full significance of the utterly barren, dreary nature of the lake district. Into what a desert had we been betrayed! A few scattered tufts of fine stiff grass rising up in melancholy fashion near the shore, from the wide stretches of sand, were the only bits of green, the only signs of life of any kind. Here and there, some partly in the water, some on the beach, rose up isolated skeleton trees, stretching up their bare sun-bleached branches to the pitiless sky.

Dorian arrived and rushed upstairs to my room. “We’ll lose the crop if it goes on like this,” he bellowed with disappointment and rage. “Bloody rain,” he muttered, as he moved out onto the terrace and looked down at the sodden world around us. We had been caught again. I tried to find some words with which to console him but I knew it was hopeless. It rained for two months. The lake rose seven feet and our new acres went under. We called in men and women and children from all around. Knee deep in mud and water, they once again pulled up the crops from the gooey ground and fought off the fat black leeches that clung to their legs with engine oil and grease.

We had two drums of ammunition and we were prepared to argue with any enemy troops or wandering banda [bandits] who came along. By nine o’clock the next morning the sun was blazing. The altitude was only about 400 feet above sea level and the sun struck back with terrible effect from the limitless sand and sparse thorn bush. Walking was impossible except at the price of rapid exhaustion. We had seen nobody during the night and in the morning the land seemed empty of life. But it was enemy territory and we carefully avoided game and camel tracks.

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