My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–Hard Times

“And in the evening it did not seem right that I should sit down quietly to read; I was driven out of my house by the fear of losing it.”

“But I was too sad to get any idea of leopards into my mind, I knew that I did no good whatever by going round on the roads of the farm in the night, and still I went, like a ghost that is just said to walk, without any definition s to why or where to.”

“And during this time, I thought, something would happen to change it all back, since the world, after all, was not a regular or calculable place.”

“It was then, from hour to hour, a lesson in the art of living in the monent, or it might said, in eternity, wherein the actual happenings of the moment make but little difference.”

“In this way I was the last person to realize that I was going.  When I look back upon my last months in Africa, it seems to me that the lifeless things were aware of my departure a long time before I was so myself.  The hills, the forests, plains and rivers, the wind, all knew that we were to part. . . if a little bird settled on a twig of a bush, I should hear it sing.  In the hills, in March, this gesture of abandon means that the rains are near, but here, to  me, it meant parting.”

Gods and men, we are all deluded thus! – from Percy Byshe Shelley in “Hymn of Pan” (1824)

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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.
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,
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
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,
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,
I sang of the daedal 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 Maenalus
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—
At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.

p. 330:  “Ca, madame, c’est impossible.” – French.  from Bing translator “It, madame, it is impossible.”

p. 330:  Ingrid Lindstrom of Njoro – Here is a photo of Dinesen when she went to visit her friend.  And below is a photo of Ingrid with Kamante from Kamante’s book, “Longing for Darkness.”

p.  330:  pyrethrum – from Wikipedia.  Pyrethrum refers to several Old World plants of the genus Chrysanthemum (e.g., C. coccineum) which are cultivated as ornamentals for their showy flower heads. Pyrethrum is also the name of a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of C. cinerariifolium and C. coccineum.

T. cinerariifolium is called the Dalmatian chrysanthemum, denoting its origin in that region of the Balkans (Dalmatia). It looks more like the common daisy than other pyrethrums. Its flowers, typically white with a yellow center, grow from numerous fairly rigid stems. Plants have blue-green leaves and grow to between 45 to 60 cm in height. The plant is economically important as a natural source of insecticide. The flowers are pulverized and the active components, called pyrethrins, contained in the seed cases, are extracted and sold in the form of an oleoresin. This is applied as a suspension in water or oil, or as a powder. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects, and inhibit female mosquitoes from biting. When present in amounts less than those fatal to insects, they still appear to have an insect repellent effect. They are harmful to fish, but are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides and are not persistent, being biodegradable and also breaking down easily on exposure to light. They are considered to be amongst the safest insecticides for use around food. Kenya produced 90% (over 6,000 tonnes) of the world’s pyrethrum in 1998, called py for short. Production in Tanzania and Ecuador is also significant.

p. 330:  coffee-diseases like thrips and antestia – from

Coffee thrips (Diarthrothrips coffeae)

The adult thrips are 1-1.5 mm in length and grey-brown in colour. The nymphs are wingless and yellow. Both adults and nymphs feed on the underside of leaves, but in severe infestations they also attack the upper side of leaves, berries and green shoots. Attacked plant parts show irregular grey or silvery patches covered by numerous tiny black spots, which are the excreta of the thrips.  In case of severe infestation the leaves dry up and fall off. Heavy outbreaks occur during periods of drought and high temperatures.

p. 331:  goat bomas – from Wikipedia.

A boma is a livestock enclosure, a stockade or kind of fort, or a district government office. The term is used in many parts of eastern, central and southern Africa and is incorporated into many African languages as well as colonial varieties of English, French and German.

As a livestock enclosure, boma is the equivalent of ‘kraal‘, and the former being used in areas influenced by Swahili and the latter in areas influenced by Afrikaans.

In the form of fortified villages or camps, bomas were commonplace in Central Africa in the 18th and 19th century in areas affected by the slave trade, tribal wars and colonial conquest, and were built by both sides in such conflicts.

Note that apart from the neatly built stockades shown in illustrations of bomas, the term in practice more often resembled the structure shown in the cartoon accompanying this article. In that form they often were referred to by the likes of J. A. Hunter.[2] and Henry Morton Stanley[3][4]

In British colonies, especially in remote areas, boma came to be used to mean colonial government offices because in the late 19th century such offices usually included a fortified police station or military barracks, often in the form of a timber stockade, though some had stone walls. Many were called forts, as in ‘Fort Jameson‘ or ‘Fort Rosebery‘. In the 20th century it came to mean the district or provincial government headquarters, even where fortifications were no longer required.[5]

Boma is still commonly used in eastern and southern Africa with this meaning, as well as the meaning of a livestock enclosure. An example appeared in The Nation, an English-language newspaper published in Blantyre, Malawi, on May 26, 2006: “In Chitipa, 24 Somalis were arrested at the Boma.”

File:A boma in the forest.jpg

File:The boma method.png

p. 331:  tall blue gum trees – from Wikipedia.

The Tasmanian Blue Gum, Southern Blue Gum or Blue Gum, (Eucalyptus globulus) is an evergreen tree, one of the most widely cultivated trees native to Australia. They typically grow from 30 to 55 m (98 to 180 ft) tall. The tallest currently known specimen in Tasmania is 90.7 m tall.[1] There are historical claims of even taller trees, the tallest being 101 m (330 ft).[2] The natural distribution of the species includes Tasmania and southern Victoria (particularly the Otway Ranges and southern Gippsland). There are also isolated occurrences on King Island and Flinders Island in Bass Strait and on the summit of the You Yangs near Geelong. There are naturalized non-native occurrences in southern Europe (Galicia, Akamas, Cyprus, and Portugal), southern Africa, New Zealand, western United States (California), Hawaii and Macaronesia.[3]

The d’Entrecasteaux expedition made immediate use of the species when they discovered it, the timber was used to improve their oared boats.[4] The Tasmanian Blue Gum was proclaimed as the floral emblem of Tasmania on 27 November 1962. The species name is from the Latin globulus, a little button, referring to the shape of the operculum.

File:Starr 031002-0027 Eucalyptus globulus.jpg

p. 331:  wattle trees – from Wikipedia.

Acacia (play /əˈkʃə/ or /əˈksiə/) is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not. They are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannins and condensed tannins that historically in many species found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.

The generic name derives from ακακία (akakia), the name given by early Greek botanist-physician Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) to the medicinal tree A. nilotica in his book Materia Medica.[2] This name derives from the Greek word for its characteristic thorns, ακις (akis, thorn).[3] The species name nilotica was given by Linnaeus from this tree’s best-known range along the Nile river.

Acacias are also known as thorntrees, whistling thorns or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias

File:Acacia Negev.JPG

p. 332:  East Coat fever – from Wikipedia.

East Coast fever (theileriosis) is a disease of cattle caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva. The term excludes diseases caused by other Theileria, such as tropical theileriosis (also known as Mediterranean theileriosis), caused by T. annulata, and human theileriosis, caused by T. microti. East Coast fever is among the most important livestock diseases in Africa,[1] causing an annual loss of 1.1 million cattle and $168 million, as of 1992.[2] It is found in Sudan, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo,[1] Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.[citation needed] The primary vector for T. parva is Rhipicephalus appendiculatus.[1]

T. parva was first described in 1902 in Zimbabwe, but was misdiagnosed as redwater (a disease caused by Babesia bigemina). Theileria are the only eukaryotic organisms known to transform lymphocytes.[3] The intermediate hosts for T. parva are cattle. The definitive hosts are the ticks. Native cattle are often resistant to the parasite. This is not to say they do not suffer from the parasite; they do. They are hosts to the parasite, but do not suffer as severely as foreign cattle.[4][5]

Mortality can be up to 100%, with death occurring around 18–30 days after the initial attachment of infected ticks. This is because the incubation required is around 10–25 days, and the parasite spreads quickly and is rather aggressive. Clinical signs for diagnosis include but are not limited to fever and enlarged lymph nodes near the tick bite(s). Smears and stains can also be done to check for the parasite. Schizonts (aka meronts, or segmentors) can be found in infected lymphocytes. Pathology includes but is not limited to anorexia, dyspnea, corneal opacity, nasal discharge, frothy nasal discharge, diarrhea, pulmonary edema, leukopenia, and anemia. After this, endemic cattle that are given medication sometimes recover to varying degrees, or death follows due to blocked capillaries and parasites infecting the central nervous system.[6] Cattle that are endemic and manage to survive tend to be carriers. Control for the most part, is most effective if there are pre-infection vaccinations done. Once infected, it is difficult to get rid of the parasites. If the cattle are infected, there are pour-on and soak medicines that can be introduced to kill off the ticks, but it must be done frequently (monthly usually, thus, this is costly), leaves residues in milk and meat, and doesn’t help the already-infected cattle. In addition, it is difficult to kill T. parva in lymphocytes once the first incubation has gone through, because T. parva do not synchronize their reproduction, so there are T. parva in many different life-cycle stages after a while.

There is more information at this site.

p. 334:  Abyssiania – from Wikipedia.  Another name for Ethiopia.  In English, and generally outside Ethiopia, the country was also once historically known as Abyssinia, derived from Habesh, an early Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name “Ḥabaśāt” (unvocalized “ḤBŚT”). The modern form Habesha is the native name for the country’s inhabitants (while the country has been called “Ityopp’ya”). In a few languages, Ethiopia is still referred to by names cognate with “Abyssinia,” e.g., modern Arabic Al-Ḥabashah, meaning land of the Habasha people.[

p. 337:  tragi-comical –  A drama combining elements of tragedy and comedy

p. 337:  “A great flight of birds followed the advance of the grasshoppers. . .” – The locust swarm begins at 2:18 if you want to scroll ahead

p. 338: “. . . grasshoppers in the first stage of life , that cannot fly, but which crawl along and eat up everything upon their march” –

As the coffee plants die, so does a part of Karen Blixen.  Slowly she is begining to realize that her time in Africa is over.  And so are the lives of two of her friends.  We meet next time at “The Death of Kinanjui” and we wither-up and part of us dies with this chief.

jum, jum,


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