My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–The Ngong Farm

Here is the first instalment of the “Out of Africa” book.  Basically I defined all the words and phrases so that you don’t have to stop your reading to look them up.  If you haven’t had a chance to get the book, yet, these posts will still be here.  You can order the book by clicking on this link, Out of Africa (Modern Library) or check it out at your local library.

The first chapter gives us the setting with the famous opening line, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

“The hills from the farm changed their character many times in the course of the day. . .”  If you have ever lived in the mountains/hills or had a view of a mountain, you will understand this statement.  I never get tired of beauty–especially the beauty of a changing landscape.

“It is impossible that a town will not play a part in your life, it does not even make much difference whether you have more good or bad things to say of it, it draws your mind to it, by a mental law of gravitation.”  Having spend most of my growing up years in the country, I understand this statement.  Regardless of the wonderfulness of the country, forays into town are a necessity, and often a looked-forward-to luxury.  Now living in the city, I long for the solitude of the country.  “Town” is a part of my everyday life.

There are many great sentences in this first chapter.  The author makes several references to classical literature and often uses uncommon words.  I tried to define some words and give Wikipedia references to subjects which I wasn’t familiar.  You may want to print out the following pages to refer to while reading the first chapter.  However, even with out the references, the reading is enjoyable.

Equirare, Arcum tendere, Veritatem dicere = Latin: to ride a horse, to aim a bow, to speak the truth

From the Forests and Highlands we come, we come. =Hymn of Pan by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

605. Hymn of Pan

  FROM the forests and highlands
    We come, we come;
  From the river-girt islands,
    Where loud waves are dumb,
  Listening to my sweet pipings.          5
    The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
      The bees on the bells of thyme,
    The birds on the myrtle bushes,
      The cicale above in the lime,
And the lizards below in the grass,   10
Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,
  Listening to my sweet pipings.
  Liquid Peneus was flowing,
    And all dark Tempe lay
  In Pelion’s shadow, outgrowing   15
    The light of the dying day,
  Speeded by my sweet pipings.
    The Sileni and Sylvans and Fauns,
      And the Nymphs of the woods and waves,
    To the edge of the moist river-lawns,   20
      And the brink of the dewy caves,
And all that did then attend and follow,
Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,
  With envy of my sweet pipings.
  I sang of the dancing stars,   25
    I sang of the dædal earth,
  And of heaven, and the giant wars,
    And love, and death, and birth.
  And then I changed my pipings—
    Singing how down the vale of Mænalus   30
I pursued a maiden, and clasp’d a reed:
    Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
      It breaks in our bosom, and then we bleed.
All wept—as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood—   35
  At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.
limpid=  transparent clearness; free of anything that darkens; absolutely serene and untroubledluxuriance= characterized by a rich or profuse growth; yielding in abundance; marked by a display of luxury; excessively florid

their sails clewed up= clew = part of a sail.  clewed up = to furl by gathering its clew up to the yard by means of clew lines.  (Not very clear, but you get the idea.)

liana= plant = various long-stemmed woody vines that use trees for their support.

scintillated= to sparkle or twinkle; to be witty

created great Fata Morgana= unusual mirage; superior mirage seen in a narrow band above the horizon line. Italian vulgar for “Fairy” and a wizard called “Morgan le Fey”; fairy castles in the air.

The Great Rift Valley= geological. a fracture in the earth’s surface that widens over time.  Great Rift Valley is about 4,000 miles long from Syria to East Africa.  Many volcanoes and earthquakes and lakes along the Rift.

King Solomon’s favorite horse= excerpt from Wikipedia.  Another origin tale claims that King Solomon (سليمان) was given a pure Arabian-type mare named Safanad (“the pure”) by the Queen of Sheba.[64] A different version says that Solomon gave a stallion, Zad el-Raheb or Zad-el-Rakib (“Gift to the Rider”), to the Banu Azd people when they came to pay tribute to the king. This legendary stallion was said to be faster than the zebra and the gazelle, and every hunt with him was successful, thus when he was put to stud, he became a founding sire of legend.[66]

a small cluster of peaked mole-casts= just a reference to the natives huts.

Mimosa tree=

sward= an expanse of short grass

scabrous=rough; as covered by scabs

spurfowl  = member of the pheasant family

Quasi Smart Set = Latin. as if; as though; resembling.  Not to be confused with pseudo.  Greek. false or pretend.

Wir kommen nie wieder so jung. . .zusammen = German “We come never again so young. . .altogether.

rapacious = aggressive, greedy, or grasping

Those old Milords = via French for my lord.  An English nobleman or gentleman.

the Rinderpest on their cattle = German for cattle plague.  In 1890’s killed as much as 80 – 90% of cattle in Africa.

indignant with Griselda  = excerpt from Wikipedia.  Griselda is from an Opera.

King Gualtiero has married Griselda, a peasant woman and his longtime mistress, and fears that she will not be accepted among the nobility. Concerned that a rebellion might arise, the king decides he must prove that Griselda is worthy to be their queen and the mother of their future king. He tests her virtue and steadfastness with a series of cruel ordeals, including telling her a lie that their long-lost daughter was killed on his orders. Gualtiero banishes Griselda from the court and announces that he intends to take another wife, the young woman Almirena, who is, unknown to all, their missing daughter. Almirena is highly upset over the king’s proposal as she is in love with Ernesto.[3]

Meanwhile, Griselda has returned to the humble cottage where she once lived. A beautiful woman, she has caught the attention of Rambaldo, a Sicilian nobleman, who attempts to woo her. After refusing him, Rambaldo threatens to kill her infant son, Everardo, unless she agrees to marry him. Griselda refuses and flees to the palcace where she is permitted to stay as a servant to Almirena. Gualtiero, as a final test, orders Griselda to marry Rambaldo, which she refuses to his satisfaction. The king reveals his true motive for tormenting her and accepts her again as his queen to the satisfaction of Almirena and Ernesto who can now be reunited. Rambaldo, who confesses to have stirred up the nobles in the hope of winning Griselda, is forgiven.[3]

had grown up in a milieu. . . = French word for environment.  Pronounced [mill-yer]

evanescent = tending to fade from sight; fleeting; ethereal

a comment about GOD that I completely disagree with.

Noble found I ever the Native. . . =I could not find the author

The chapter “A Native Child” is coming soon.  I hope you are enjoying your reading.  I’d love to hear your thought on the book or your favorite quote from the book in the comments section.  The next chapter doesn’t have so many references to classical literature, and I promise that you will fall in lave with Kamante!!

loving this book,


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4 Responses to My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–The Ngong Farm

  1. Allison says:

    Mine just came in the mail today (in a brown paper package…eeek!!!). Can’t wait to get started!


    • whitsendmom says:

      Yeah!!! to “brown paper packages” and Yeah! to that brown UPS truck. I love it when he stops at my door. I’m so glad you are reading along. I just finished researching another chapter. Enjoy.


  2. Angie Lovold Hale says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    I really enjoy your blog- I saw a link to it on your facebook. I love your writing you crack me up. You have a beautiful family. You have inspired me to read this book. I feel bad I’m a librarian and I haven’t read this one yet. Can’t wait to start this one.


    • whitsendmom says:

      I wish we could get our families together sometime. I do drive through Indy to visit my parents, so maybe someday it will work out. I’ve always thought I would like to be a librarian–I love books so much. Thanks for stopping by!


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