My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–Wings

“. . .[The lion] swung round towards us, and just as the second shot fell, he gave one long irascible groan.  Africa, in a second, grew endlessly big, and Denys and I standing upon it infinitely small.  Outside our torchlight there was nothing but darkness, in the darkness in two directions there were lions, and from the sky rain.”–I have never shot a lion, but I have stood in the darkness of the night and have felt very small.

“When you have flown over the Rift Valley and the volcanoes of Suswa and Longono, you have travelled far and have been to the lands on the other side of the moon.”–by her description, I too am transported.

“You may at other times fly low enough to see the animals on the plains and to feel towards them as God did when he had just created them.”

“It was like having been taken into the heart of the Ngong Hills by a secret unknown road.”

p. 234:  “cross-legged like Scheherazade herself” – from Wikipedia.

Scheherazade is a legendary Persian queen and the main storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights.

The frame tale goes that every day Shahryar (Persian: شهريار or “king”) would marry a new virgin, and every day he would send yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. This was done in anger, having found out that his first wife was betraying him. He had killed one thousand such women by the time he was introduced to Scheherazade, the vizier‘s daughter.

In Sir Richard F. Burton’s translation of The Nights, Shahrazad was described in this way:

“[Shahrazad] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”

Against her father’s wishes, Scheherazade volunteered to spend one night with the King. Once in the King’s chambers, Scheherazade asked if she might bid one last farewell to her beloved sister, Dinazade, who had secretly been prepared to ask Scheherazade to tell a story during the long night. The King lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story. The night passed by, and Scheherazade stopped in the middle of the story. The King asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was not time, as dawn was breaking. So, the King spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. So the next night, Scheherazade finished the story, and then began a second, even more exciting tale which she again stopped halfway through, at dawn. So the King again spared her life for one day to finish the second story.

And so the King kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the finishing of last night’s story. At the end of one thousand and one nights, and one thousand stories, Scheherazade told the King that she had no more tales to tell him. During these one thousand and one nights, the King had fallen in love with Scheherazade, and had had three sons with her. So, having been made a wiser and kinder man by Scheherazade and her tales, he spared her life, and made her his Queen

p. 234:  “The soul within a glade the nightingale is” –

p. 235:  the Adagio of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in G-minor –

p.238:  Lion Passant Or – French.  Lion passing gold

p. 238:  plenipotence – English from Latin.  State of being invested with or conferring full power (legal term).  Latin = full power.

p. 239:  female fatele –very attractive, dangerous woman: a woman who is considered to be highly attractive and to have a destructive effect on those who succumb to her
charms ( disapproving ) French = deadly woman.

p. 240:  strychnine – from Wikipedia.  Strychnine (play /ˈstrɪknn/; also US /ˈstrɪknn/ or /ˈstrɪknɪn/) is a highly toxic (LD50 = c. 16 mg/kg in rats, 1–2 mg/kg orally in humans [1]), colorless crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as birds and rodents. Strychnine causes muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia or sheer exhaustion.[citation needed] The most common source is from the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica tree. Strychnine is one of the most bitter substances known.[citation needed] Its taste is detectable in concentrations as low as 1 ppm.[citation

p. 241:  Frie lebt wer sterben kann – German.  Free lives who can die.

p. 245:  “. . .his melliferous Indian smile shone. . .” – melliferous = producing honey.  From Latin mel = honey.

p. 246:  volcanoes of Suswa and Longono –  Suswa = Very interesting site as the author also compares Suswa to the craters on the moon.

Longono =

p. 247:  “. . .in life’s green grove, Sport like tame beasts, none knew how gentle they could be” – Percy Shelley (1782 – 1822) –

.. MAN, 1 one harmonious soul of many a soul,
  Whose nature is its own divine control,
Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the sea;
  Familiar acts are beautiful through love;
Labour, and pain, and grief, in life’s green grove         5
Sport like tame beasts, none knew how gentle they could be!
  His will, with all mean passions, bad delights,
  And selfish cares, its trembling satellites,
A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey,
  Is as a tempest-wingèd ship, whose helm         10
  Love rules, through waves which dare not overwhelm,
Forcing life’s wildest shores to own its sovereign sway.
  All things confess his strength. Through the cold mass
  Of marble and of colour his dreams pass;
Bright threads whence mothers weave the robes their children wear;         15
  Language is a perpetual Orphic song,
  Which rules with Dædal harmony a throng
Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless and shapeless were

p. 247:  Lake Natron – from Wikipedia.  Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of Africa‘s Great Rift Valley. The lake is fed by the Ewaso Ng’iro River but also by mineral-rich hot springs and is quite shallow, less than three meters (10 feet) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving high levels of salt and other minerals. The surrounding country is dry and receives irregular rainfall. Temperatures in the lake can reach 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as alkaline as ammonia).

The high temperature (up to 41°C) and the high and very variable salt content of the lake does not support most wildlife. However it is an important habitat for flamingos and is home to endemic algae, invertebrates and even fish that can survive in the salty water.

The lake is the only regular breeding area in East Africa for the 2.5 million endangered Lesser Flamingoes. As salinity increases, so do the number of cyanobacteria, and the lake can support more nests. These flamingoes, the largest flock in East Africa, gather along saline lakes in the region, where they feed on Spirulina (a blue-green algae with red pigments). Lake Natron is a safe breeding location for Lesser Flamingoes, because its caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests. Greater Flamingo also breed on the mud flats.

Even more amazing than the ability of the flamingoes to live in these conditions is the fact that two endemic fish species, the alkaline tilapias (Alcolapia latilabris and A. ndalalani; A. alcalica is also present in the lake, but not endemic), thrive in the waters at the edges of the hot spring inlets.

p. 247:  flamingoes –

p. 248:  Naivasha – from Wikipedia.

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in Kenya, lying north west of Nairobi, outside the town of Naivasha. It is part of the Great Rift Valley. The name derives from the local Maasai name Nai’posha, meaning “rough water” because of the sudden storms which can arise. The lake has a surface area of 139 km², [1] and is surrounded by a swamp which covers an area of 64 square km, but this can vary largely depending on rainfall. It is situated at an altitude of 1,884 metres (6,180 ft).[1] The lake has an average depth of 6 m (20 ft), with the deepest area being at Crescent Island, at a maximum depth of 30 m (100 ft).[1]Njorowa Gorge used to form the lake’s outlet, but it is now high above the lake and forms the entrance to Hell’s Gate National Park.

The lake is home to a variety of wildlife; over 400 different species of bird have been reported. There is a sizeable population of hippos in the lake. There are two smaller lakes in the vicinity of Lake Naivasaha: Lake Oloiden and Lake Sonachi (a green crater lake). The Crater Lake Game Sanctuary lies nearby, while the lake shore is known for its population of European immigrants and settlers. The town of Naivasha (formerly East Nakuru) lies on the north-east edge of the lake.

p. 249:  Ding an sich – German.  The thing in itself.

p. 249: “. . every evening taken by the Roc, when, with an Elephant for her young in each talon, she swished from Uganda home to Arabia” – Very interesting site–American Museum of Natural History talks about the legend of the Arabian Roc.

p. 249:  “. . .as the Djinn carried Prince Ali through the air. . .” – Djinn = genie in English.  From Mythical Creatures and Beasts.  “Known as “genies” in English, Djinn (singular form Djinni) have deep roots in Arab culture. The Djinn first sprang from stories told by Indian, Persian, and Arabian storytellers and gained international fame when they
appeared throughout the tales Scheherezade told in “The Thousand and One Nights”. It is said that the Djinn are created from fire and can take on any form they choose-animal or human-and can be of any size (they have a human-likeform and can take the shape of animals but only temporary unless it is their tribes animal protector. Most of them are hostile, although some can be friendly. It is possible for magicians or wise men and women to gain power over a Djinn and use it to perform amazing and magical tasks. Be wary, for even a friendly Djinn is unpredictable and certainly anyone who breaks an agreement with a Djinn will strongly regret it. Often Djinn take naughty pleasure in punishing people for wronging them, even unintentionally

p. 249:  “The Prophet had the same experience. . .” – In Islam Gabriel is supposed to have appeared to Muhammad.

p. 253:  Frank Greswolde-Williams – I couldn’t find out too much about him except that at one time he bought the school of St. Richard’s in the Herefordshire countryside.

History of the School

St Richard’s was founded in 1921 by John Keble, an Oxford MA and published poet, and his wife Audrey. The school opened at Aucott House, Malvern, with six boys, and moved after ten years to the old presbytery at St Wulstan’s, Little Malvern, where it remained until 1968. After the Second World War, Caspar Tremlett and his wife, Ursula, took over from the Kebles and oversaw both the move to Bredenbury and the gradual introduction of girls.

In 1982 Richard Coghlan became headmaster, undertaking considerable new building works around the school, and creating the pre-prep and nursery sections. Throughout this time the school had been proprietary but, on his retirement in 2004, Richard created a charitable trust for the school, and Nathan Cheesman and his family took up residence on the top floor.

Bredenbury Court was built in 1876 by William Henry Barneby, a young army officer who had received the whole village as a wedding present. Although on the site of a former farmstead, the house and grounds were refurbished almost regardless of expense to become one of the most beautiful residences in Herefordshire. He and his family are buried in the local churchyard.

At the turn of the century the house was bought by Frank Greswolde-Williams, an enormously wealthy spendthrift from Worcestershire, with huge estates in Kenya, where he spent much of the year. He extended the house to its present size, including a ball-room (now the Assembly Hall) and a handsome vaulted dining-room (now the Chapel). After the First World War the upkeep of the house became increasingly difficult, and eventually it was sold to Cheltenham Ladies College, who added the classroom block and swimming pool, and became the first of a series of girls’ schools, which lasted until St Richard’s arrived in 1968.

I hope you enjoyed some of the videos.

I hope you are enjoying the book,

Until next time when we read short passages “From an Immigrant’s Notebook.”


P. S.  I just love this quote.  🙂

“Natives dislike speed, as we dislike noise, it is to them, at the best, hard to bear.  They are also on friendly terms with time, and the plan of beguiling or killing it does not come into their heads.  In fact the more time you can give them, the happier they are, and if you commission a Kikuyu to hold your horse while you make a visit, you can see by his face that he hopes you will be a long, long time about it.  He does not try to pass the time then, but sits down and lives.”

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2 Responses to My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–Wings

  1. Bel McCoy says:

    Been gone up to an island for a few days and it was fun to find your blog… The Beethoven piano symphony was lovely!! As I told you, I read the book in a few days and returned it to the library. So just enjoy your comments.


    • whitsendmom says:

      Hope your island vacation was relaxing. I also enjoyed the piano symphony! The new book for the Book Club is posted today, but we won’t begin for about a week or so. Feel free to read it whenever you want.


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