One White man in Black Africa

One White man in Black Africa

Cooke, J

1991

Book ID 55

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 039

Based at Musoma

Based at Musoma, across the Serengeti at Lake Victoria.

Extract ID: 174

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 052

Serengeti Tracks

In 1953 there was only a rutted two-wheel track through the dust [of the Serengeti], sometimes braiding into a broad series of tracks where people had avoided progressively deeper ruts.

Extract ID: 913

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 061

cattle theft and prevention

These men [working as police officers on cattle theft and prevention] were invariably Afrikaners from the community at Oldeani where they had settled in the early years of the century.

Extract ID: 773

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 062

Banagi

Banagi was always a good place to visit. It was the residence of the game ranger responsible for the east lake region including the Serengeti, probably one of the finest wildlife regions in the whole of East Africa. The Banagi lion had been made famous by Monty Moore, a pre-war ranger who had half-tamed a number of lions by feeding them on carcasses towed behind a truck. A number of wealthy, mainly American, big game aficionados had thus been attracted to the area.

Extract ID: 914

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 064

John Blower was ranger at Banagi

John Blower was ranger at Banagi during my first year in Musoma, but when he left, his place was not filled at once, and the station was left in charge of a few game scouts

Extract ID: 121

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 065

A prospector named Arnold Kuenzler

A prospector whom I knew well named Arnold Kuenzler, who was looking for traces kimberlite for Williamson's Diamonds of Mwadui, found these lions [at Klein's Camp] a nuisance and a hindrance in his work. He argued, understandably, that he should be given licence to shoot them when they threatened him, but needless to say this was refused. Arnold survived, so I am sure several lions bit the dust.

Extract ID: 432

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 070

Peter Bramwall

Bramwall was a Kenyan, and had been at Banagi for about a year, during which time he had completed the first phase of the construction of what was to become the Seronera game lodge for tourists. This first stage consisted of only a few concrete rondavels, with thatched roofs, and a water collection system from a nearby rocky kopje.

Extract ID: 915

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 070a

Shortly before the end of my first three-year tour

Shortly before the end of my first three-year tour of service, Brian Hodgson called me into his office, and said with a grin that he had a job for me that he thought I would enjoy. How right he was. Apparently the provincial commissioner of Lake Province, one 'Fanny' Walden at that time, was disturbed by reports of large numbers of Masai grazing their cattle on the Lake Province sector of the Serengeti. He wanted a rough census of the Masai cattle carried out, and Hodgson had suggested that I be told to do the job. I was to be assisted by Peter Bramwall, who was game ranger at Banagi, and Peter Venter, a stock theft prevention officer from Arusha.

Extract ID: 175

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 070b

'Fanny' Walden

Apparently the provincial commissioner of Lake Province, one 'Fanny' Walden at that time, was disturbed by reports of large numbers of Masai grazing their cattle on the Lake Province sector of the Serengeti.

Extract ID: 1094

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 070c
Extract Date: 1955

Cattle Census

I [John Cooke] was to be assisted [at a census of Masai cattle] by Peter Bramwall, who was game ranger at Banagi, and Peter Venter, a stock theft prevention officer from Arusha.

Bramwall was a Kenyan, and had been at Banagi for about a year, during which time he had completed the first phase of the construction of what was to become the Seronera game lodge for tourists. This first stage consisted of only a few concrete rondavels, with thatched roofs, and a water collection system from a nearby rocky kopje.

He was a trifle eccentric, and his method of travel across the Serengeti plains was, for example, highly original. The dust was atrocious, and Peter used to travel in a completely open landrover, clad only in an old army greatcoat. On arrival at his destination he simply removed this, shook it violently to detach much of the accumulated dust, and then got dressed in clean clothes.

Extract ID: 124

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 084

Based at Lushoto

Based at Lushoto, in the Usambara mountains, which, roughly, run from Moshi to Tanga.

Extract ID: 176

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 093
Extract Date: 1955

Horace Mason

A star of the Social Development department of government was one Horace Mason, and he was called in to advise on extension methods. He had made a name for himself in work amongst the Wameru in Arusha district who had become disaffected (with good reason) by the alienation of part of their land to European farmers by the government, a major faux pas of the Twining era. Mason took a lot of credit for calming the Wameru and re-establishing normal conditions.

Extract ID: 586

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 108

Sylvia Kaufmann

The young lady of my desire was Sylvia Kaufmann, whose parents lived in a sisal estate near Tanga, where her father was manager. ... we were married in Tanga in June, 1956 and spent our honeymoon in a shack on the beach at sleepy Bagamoyo, in a tent in the wilds of Handeni, and finally in the fleshpots of the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi.

Extract ID: 177

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 110a

The district commissioner [at Moshi] was Brian Hodgson

The district commissioner [at Moshi] was Brian Hodgson, under whom I had worked at Musoma. ...

Extract ID: 331

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 110b

Sylvia's Uncle Hans lived just outside Moshi on his farm

Sylvia's Uncle Hans lived just outside Moshi on his farm, as did his daughter whose husband Fritz Veit had a large coffee farm high up on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro.

Extract ID: 379

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 115 - 116
Extract Date: 1957

Ascent of Kilimanjaro and Heim Glacier

My plans for Kilimanjaro had been maturing for some time. All parts of the whole massif had been reached by mountaineers, geologists and surveyors, and the main summit of Kibo had been reached by thousands of people by the normal trade route of ascent from Marangu, which poses no technical problems. However, I could find no record of a complete, continuous traverse of the whole mountain, taking in all the main peaks of Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. This I planned to do. A second aim was to attempt a first ascent of one of the unclimbed glaciers on the south face of Kibo. The west and south faces of Kibo are separated by a massive breach in the crater rim and wall, whichis very spectacular. The glaciers to the north-west of the breach, namely the Penck and the Credner, offer no great problems, and had been climbed. Those to the east, the Kersten and the Heim are formidable ice-walls and had not been climbed. I proposed to tackle the Heim as a route to the summit area of Kibo as part of the traverse of the whole mountain. From photographs it looked very challenging, and so it was to prove.

The first problem to be overcome was finding companions for the venture. They would have to be experienced and competent mountaineers, for the Heim would be no place for tyros. By enormous good fortune two excellent men turned up. They were Ax Nelson and David Goodall. In background, character and temperament they were totally different. Ax was an American who was at that time working as an adviser with the Meru Cooperative Union based in Arusha. He was a man of deep religious convictions with a driving urge in life to champion the cause of those he considered to be downtrodden and exploited. He had got involved with the Meru land case when he met Kirilo Japhet, the Meru spokesman in New York at the United Nations. The Wameru were petitioning against the Tanganyika government's alienation of a part of their land to European farmers. Ax espoused the Meru cause and came out to Tanganyika to work with them, ending up as an adviser to their co-operative which organised the coffee growers on Mount Meru. He later wrote a book about his experiences, entitled The Freemen of Meru, published by Oxford in 1967. He had considerable climbing experience, and amongst other things had been actively involved in the early ascents of the immense vertical rock faces in the Yosemite region of the Sierra Nevadas in the western United States. Ax was a great talker and very articulate, so that by the end of our expedition David and I knew just about everything about him and his philosophy of life. David Goodall was British, northcountry like myself. Although we lived in very close contact for two exacting weeks on the mountain, where we were totally interdependent (in fact, he saved my life), he remains an enigma. He was working as an agricultural officer in Kenya, and before that had done his National Service in the Parachute Regiment. He was very tough, totally dependable, and excellent company, but he exemplified the Yorkshireman's motto "Hear all, see all, say nowt."

Extract ID: 5891

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 117
Extract Date: 1957

We got together and made detailed plans

We got together and made detailed plans. Late September was agreed on as the time and we all obtained leave from our work. We had all the necessary equipment except ice pitons, long narrow steel spikes to drive into hard ice as safe anchor points when climbing. These we ordered from the UK. I had a small Black's mountain tent big enough for two men, but as weight was going to be a critical factor, we decided to make do with it. Since we were going to be on the mountain for two weeks all our food would have to be carried, so that it would have to be carefully chosen and finely calculated. Tins were out of the question. Our basic bulk food were porridge oats with dried milk and sugar, plus hard biscuits. For protein and fat we took bacon and biltong, and instant coffee was our beverage. In the absence of fresh fruit and vegetables we took Vitamin C tablets, and for quick energy dried fruit and glucose tablets. We calculated precise amounts of everything, weighed it all out, and packed it into canvas bags that Sylvia made up for us. My old well-tried Primus stove and a supply of paraffin provided for our cooking. Even with food and equipment pared to a minimum we were still going to have very heavy loads to carry, with tent and sleeping bags, ice axes, crampons, pitons and hammers, slings and clips, rope, minimal spare clothing, food and fuel for two weeks. We decided there was no point in lugging this lot unaided through the forest, and so I asked the Mangi of Machame from where we planned to start, if he could find us a few porters to help us carry our gear up onto the Shira Plateau. This he very kindly did for us.

The route we planned would go from west to east. We would ascend to the Shira plateau first, and climb all the Shira peaks. The 12,000 feet altitude (about 4000 m) would enable us toacclimatise quickly before tackling the major problem of the Heim Glacier. The route onto the Shira from Loldorosi that I had used in 1953 was long and time-consuming. A start from Machame would yield a more direct route, and we trusted to the porters knowing a way through the forest. Once on the Shira the porters would leave us and go back down, leaving us with a weighty transport problem. We would tick off all the peaks there, namely the Shira ridge, Shira dome, and the Platzkegel. The Heim was our great unknown, and we did not know the nature of the problems we would encounter. Ax had persuaded someone with a small plane to fly him past the glaciers and ice-walls, and he managed to get a good photograph of the Heim from fairly close quarters, which was to prove of great assistance to us. Once up the Heim, assuming we succeeded there, we would go over the summit of Kibo, and then down to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi. From a last camp below the latter we would make our last ascent of Mawenzi, and then get down to Marangu.

Extract ID: 5893

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 118
Extract Date: 1957

We eventually left Machame on 20th September

We eventually left Machame on 20th September with five porters who knew the forest trails. We felt light-hearted and unburdened. We were glad of the latter for our route made no concessions and went up very steeply, following a ridge between two deeply entrenched river valleys. The forest was very beautiful, and since we had guides, we could relax and appreciate our surroundings, without having to concentrate on route-finding, and hacking our way forward. In the forest in 1953 I had been too concerned with route finding to bother much about aesthetics, while in the Ruwenzori forests, the overpowering wetness and mud could only offer pleasure to a sheer masochist. There is much wildlife in the Kilimanjaro forests, but one hears more than one sees. On our first night out we slept in the forest, always an intriguing experience with all sorts of strange noises, rustlings, scuffles, thuds, grunts, whistles and the odd trumpeting of a distant elephant. We were charmed by the very beautiful black and white, long haired colobus monkeys, which we often saw swinging in the trees, overcome with curiosity as to who and what we were. Late on our second day out we were surprised and pleased to emerge from the forest, and to see before us the final slopes leading up onto the plateau. This was the point where the porters were to leave us, but very sadly our parting was less than amicable.

When I came to pay the porters, they claimed we had pushed them too hard so that they had done in two days what they would normally consider three days' work. In consequence of this they wanted three days' pay. I pointed out that there were flaws in their argument, because Europeans did not come this way, and therefore they had no precedent on which to base their claim. I had no strong feelings however, and was prepared to come to some compromise or even to pay them what they wanted. A haggle was normal procedure and we settled down to it. However, Ax who spoke but little Swahili, asked what was going on. I told him, whereupon the Protestant Work Ethic raised its formidable head. "Like hell," said Ax, "tell them they get two days' pay for two days' work, period." I had to communicate this dour message to the men, and it immediately put their backs up. Haggling does not involve or welcome bald statements or firm positions. I was caught in a fix. I sympathised with the men, but I did not want to antagonise my friend with whom I was to spend the next two weeks in very close contact. The porters would not give an inch and eventually went down empty-handed. Some weeks later however, I was able to arrange payment for them. I found this little contretemps rather ironic the radical American being less accommodating than the imperialist Briton.

Extract ID: 5894

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 119
Extract Date: 1957

From this point we took it fairly easily for a day

From this point we took it fairly easily for a day, carrying our loads to a point high on the eastern side of the plateau, where we camped. We were acclimatising nicely, and the next day we made a complete circuit of the Shira, climbing all the peaks. We were not carrying any loads, but it was a long, exhausting day, though very exhilarating. From our camp in the evening we had a fantastic view out over an immense sea of clouds, through which in the distance Mount Meru thrust its sharp summit like an island in a vast ocean. Behind us reared the imposing rock and ice slopes of this side of Kibo, which slowly turned from gold to deep red, and finally a forbidding grey as the sun went down. We shivered and crawled into our cramped tent.

Our next objective was to get to the foot of the Heim Glacier. This involved a long upward traverse over masses of broken rock and scree, followed by a descent into and climb out of the barranco, or deeply glaciated trough, which runs out below the Great Breach Wall. This was another long hard day, but we were now fully acclimatised, in good fettle, and moving well. We reached our goal in the late afternoon, and the crucial challenge of our expedition. About 3,000 feet (1,000 m) of steep ice reared upwards and curved out of sight far above us. It looked forbidding. The whizz and hum of flying ice and rock debris from above quickly drove us against the ice front below a protecting rock-wall, where we bivouacked. I felt butterflies in my stomach as one always does before a challenging venture.

Next morning we were up and off before dawn. We knew where we had to go. From Ax's photograph we had seen that the major defences of the Heim were two lines of ice cliffs about a third of the way up, and come what may, we had to find a way through these. We moved up steadily, and soon noticed without much enthusiasm, that there was no snow on the ice. We were on bare, hard ice, and very soon we had to don our crampons (steel spikes which are strapped to the sole of one's boots), and rope up. We reached the lower ice wall and traversed upwards and to the left across a very steep slope, aiming for the top of a small projecting rock buttress which split the wall. Here catastrophe almost overtook us. David was leading, cutting steps in the ice as he went. I was in the middle, with Ax bringing up the rear. We moved singly, of course. David had reached the rock buttress and was well belayed, or anchored to the rock with the rope. I was moving towards him when I caught a crampon spike in my sock and pitched forward and down. I was brought up sharply by a taut rope, and found myself dangling half upside down, with a fine vertiginous view downwards. A cool, steady, and very reassuring voice came from above, "Don't worry lad, I've got you." David had whipped in my rope and held me before the other rope had tightened up on Ax who was still very precariously perched on the wall. At the same time Ax had sensibly let go his slack as he saw David's prompt action a case of perfect co-ordination that only experience can produce. I sorted myself out and climbed up to David. Very unfortunately I had lost my ice-axe, and felt very rattled, feeling I had let the others down badly. There were no recriminations, however. We climbed to the top of the buttress and held a council of war. A formidable ice climb towered above us, and we now had only two axes between the three of us. But we did have a good supply of ice-pitons, and decided to go on. This was perhaps a foolhardy decision, but since in the event we succeeded, it was the right one.

That night we bivouacked on the top of the buttress which was just big enough to take our tent once we had built up a platform with lumps of ice and rock. It was a cramped and uncomfortable spot, but we seemed to be out of the main trajectory of the flying debris of late afternoon. For the most part it whizzed harmlessly by, and we felt reasonably safe.

Extract ID: 5895

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 121
Extract Date: 1957

The following day we faced another crisis

The following day we faced another crisis. David was snow-blind through not wearing his dark glasses. He could not go out, so Ax and I reconnoitred the route ahead. We found a good line on steep but sound ice, to the top of another buttress which was slightly more commodious than the first. We then climbed down back to the tent, to find that in our absence a flying piece of ice had ripped a hole in the tent wall. After a second night on our cramped site, we followed the route we had worked out on the previous day. David's eyes were much better but we could only move slowly. With only two axes we had to adopt a special mode of progress. Whoever was leading went ahead. After about thirty feet he drove in a piton and belayed to it. He then tied his axe to the rope and lowered it to the second man, who then ascended to join number one. The third man then came up and led through on the next pitch, and the sequence was then repeated. We handled the axe with the utmost care, for we knew that if we lost it we would really be in trouble. To have attempted to move more quickly would have been sheer lunacy.

The next ice-wall looked impressive as we studied it in clear weather in the late afternoon from our second camp. We worked out what appeared to be a feasible route. Next morning, however, we were enveloped in thick mist. We moved off nevertheless, climbing steeply and hoping we would not meet any impossible obstacle. Halfway up the wall we landed in a very beautiful ice-cave where we could rest. Further progress seemed problematic, as the roof of the cave overhung, and the walls to left and right were vertical. Ax solved this problem in splendid fashion. Leaving his heavy pack in the cave, he hacked out steps to the left and upwards, and climbed out of sight over an ice bulge. His rope inched out and fragments of ice flew past. Tension was relieved when a cry of triumph floated down to us. The slope had eased off and he had been able to drive in a piton and belay to it. He hauled up his pack and we followed. We still could not see anything, but we presumed we had mastered the wall. We just went on climbing upwards, pitch after wearisome pitch. As the day drew to a close we were literally nowhere, or so it seemed, on a vast ice-slope in poor visibility. All we could do was to go on climbing in the hope of reaching some place suitable for a bivouac, before nightfall. It was with some relief that we found a place of sorts. The slope began to ease off slightly, and on its convex bend a lurking crevasse appeared. We hacked at the lower lip to form a narrow platform just big enough to take the tent. We could only guy it fore and aft, and hammered in pitons with safety lines to ourselves, and crept into the tent. The two outer men hung in bulges over space, on one side the free void of the open slope, on the other the dark unknown depths of the crevasse. We fervently hoped that the stitching of canvas wall to groundsheet was sound. A wind got up, and we could not risk lighting the primus as the tent was flapping wildly. We went hungry and drinkless. Sucking ice didn't help much, and with dry mouths we could not eat dry biscuit. We consoled ourselves with the thought that if we had been forced to spend the night out on the ice, that wind in sub-zero temperatures would have been very trying.

Extract ID: 5896

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 123
Extract Date: 1957

Next morning our troubles lifted miraculously

Next morning our troubles lifted miraculously. It was a brilliantly clear morning, the slope eased off, and there was firm snow on the ice at last. We could move together. We were on a vast slope which curved out of sight below us whence we had come. In the clear air we had a breathtaking view directly out over the immense plains of northern Tanganyika. These huge isolated East African volcanic peaks stand proudly alone, and from their upper slopes there are no rivals to encumber and clutter the free surrounding space. We felt that we were literally on the roof of the world, and as success seemed within our grasp we felt a tremendous sense of elation. More mundane matters were also on our minds, or rather our stomachs, and we halted at the first convenient place, a lonely rock outcrop, and cooked a big feast of bacon, and pints of hot coffee. Life was good! We finally camped that night amongst broken seracs or ice pinnacles at the top of the Heim, and next morning we moved easily up to the highest point of the mountain, Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze or Uhuru Peak as it is now called, at 19,340 feet (just under 6,000 m). We felt the whole of Africa was spread out at our feet, rolling away into infinite distance.

Reluctantly we continued our trek, and shot down the abominable screen of the tourist route of ascent, to reach the Kibo hut. We had arranged with the Marangu hotel to have a box of food sent up with a porter, and left at the hut to await our arrival. This we found and eagerly broached. There were tins of meat and vegetables, fruit and chocolate, which we quickly organised into a minor feast. After eleven days on hard tack and using vast amounts of energy we were ravenous. At the hut were four Young British army officers on leave from Kenya. Being young and enormously enthusiastic they had come up too quickly and were suffering badly from mountain sickness. They turned two shades greener as they watched us wolfing our food. We felt sorry for them, but some time later we were equally sorry for ourselves, as gluttony took its toll. Our innards rebelled against the untoward loads we had suddenly plied them with. Nonetheless we crossed the saddle, and made our last camp below Mawenzi more or less recovered from our excesses.

After our success on the Heim, tension eased off a little, and we felt a sense of anti-climax. Our muscles began to stiffen, but our resolve loosened. Getting up Mawenzi required a stern mental effort, and we had to really drive ourselves up to the summit and back to our camp. A final sense of achievement was our reward.

Extract ID: 5897

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 124
Extract Date: 1957

All that remained was to get down off the mountain

All that remained was to get down off the mountain. I had told Sylvia the probable day of our descent, but the Heim had delayed us a little. Imagine our great joy, when after jogging down for hour after weary hour, our legs like lead and our minds in neutral, we came round a bend and saw my landrover standing waiting with Sylvia sitting in it. She had driven up the appalling track as far as she dared, and had waited all day, just hoping we would appear. She earned our undying gratitude. That night we got cleaned up, had a wonderful meal, and slept like babies. Next day we went our separate ways. I have never seen David again, but have seen Ax on several occasions, and some years later we climbed together the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai. He is now retired and living in California.

Extract ID: 5898

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 130

return from leave to a posting at Bukoba

on return from leave [to a posting at Bukoba, on the west side of Lake Victoria] I was instructed to report first to the Social Development department headquarters at Tengeru near Arusha. The head there was Horace Mason. I was to be instructed, or rather indoctrinated as the letter put it, in the philosophy and methodology of social developments enunciated by Mason, who had become something of a guru.

Indoctrination by Mason most certainly did not appeal to me. I am at heart a very English pragmatist, with a deep distrust of theories, dogmas and philosophies, and those who perpetrate and perpetuate them. ...

As I had surmised my three weeks there were a total waste of time, though it was pleasant enough living in Arusha in the shadow of the great mountain.

Extract ID: 178

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 184a
Extract Date: 1962

Babati

... we did some cross-country travelling to reach Babati on the Arusha-Dodoma road. Here we spent a few days with Sylvia's brother Klaus who was farming in the Kiri valley. He had taken a lease on a parcel of land that was part of a large area that had been cleared for large-scale cultivation by the Germans pre-1914, but then later abandoned to revert to bush and infestation by the tse-tse fly.

In the late 1950's the British administration had decided to reopen the land which the local people did not seem to be interested in. The object was to drive back the tse-tse and bring potentially productive land into cultivation. Klaus had been employed in the sisal growing industry, but wanting to set up farming on his own account, he had applied for and been granted a lease. He had driven up from Tanga with a tractor and trailer laden with his worldly goods, and had moved on to the totally bush-covered land, where he set up camp. He didn't have long to wait before local people came asking for work, and he was able to build up a small labour force with which he started to clear the land.

He allowed each man to build a house and cultivate his own plot. The land teemed with buffalo, and by hunting and shooting these, Klaus was able to keep his men well supplied with fresh meat. He had no labour problems. Within a year they had cleared enough land to plant and harvest a crop of maize, and to begin planting permanent crops such as coffee and paw paw. A small house with mud-brick walls and a corrugated iron roof was built and round it a garden with flowers and vegetables flourished.

Extract ID: 380

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 190 ff
Extract Date: 1957

On the Uhuru peak of Kibo

On the Uhuru peak of Kibo, after making the first ascent of the Heim Glacier. From left to right: Ax Nelson, author, David Goodall.

Extract ID: 5892

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 190 ff
Extract Date: 1963

The inner crater of Lengai

Extract ID: 5901

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 201
Extract Date: 1963

An attempt on the ascent of Oldoinyo Legai

My plan was an attempt on the ascent of Oldoinyo Legai, an active volcano in the Rift Valley south of Lake Natron. I was in touch with Ax Nelson again, and we planned the expedition together.

Extract ID: 5899

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 203
Extract Date: 1963

Meeting Ax

I arranged to meet Ax where a track takes off northwards from the Arusha-Dodoma Road towards Engaruka. Ax brought with him his two teenaged daughters and Peter Badura-Skoda, a friend from Arusha whose landrover we travelled in.

Extract ID: 5900

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 206a

Ol Donyo Lengai

Back at the foot of the wall we were faced with the problem of ascent, to which we clearly had not given sufficient attention before descending. The heat was now intense. The equatorial sun was high in the heavens, and beat down vertically into the pit we were in. The white walls caught this and reflected this so that the light was dazzling. The terrestrial heat source into which we had ventured added its considerable quota of thermal energy. We felt we were being baked alive. How we got up that slope, I know not, but somehow we did, slipping and sliding, often thigh deep in bitter-smelling ash, and clawing at every piece or outcrop of firm hard larva that presented itself. We arrived at the top hot beyond belief and desperately thirsty. To quench our raging thirst and re-hydrate ourselves we had about a gallon of luke-warm water which was totally inadequate. We had planned to spend another night on the mountain, but this was now out of the question, and so we went straight down, reaching the Land-Rover in the late afternoon. Never did water taste so sweet as that which we had left in the vehicle. That night we camped again under our thorn-tree, and departed the next day, exploring one or two of the small cones and craters on the way out.

Extract ID: 3705

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa, 1991
Page Number: 206b
Extract Date: 1967

Ol Doinyo Lengai

The mountain [Ol Doinyo Lengai] as it was in 1963 on our visit is no more, for in 1967 [sic] there was another major eruption, and to judge from air photographs I have seen since, it appears that our crater has been filled in by the event. Our visit had been for us an enormously impressive and mind-stretching venture. We felt we had been privileged to be allowed to reach out and touch something utterly primeval, outside and beyond the human scale of things: a very moving and humbling experience.

Extract ID: 762
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