Ketembellion

Name ID 1699

See also

Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 013
Extract Date: 1950's

little pimples

Ol Molog is a Masai name, romantic to us even when we learnt its translation of `little pimples', which was evidently what the Masai considered the small hills resembled which erupted in our area. We had a hill feature on our farm comically called Loikitoip, but there were others with more mystical names such as Ketembellion and Legumishira.

With our bland climate and fertile forest loam soil, we might have been anywhere but in Africa, but we only had to drop down below our lower boundary into the `big country', which for years had drawn men and women from all over the world on shooting and photographic safaris. Hot by day, cool by night, it is typical of what people conjure up when they think of East Africa. Arid plains that are sparsely covered with flat-topped acacia, yellowbarked fever trees and skeletal whistling thorn, so named because their black pods are honey-combed with ants so when the wind blows, the pods whistle eerily. There is hardy scrub, brittle-tufted grass and occasional rocky outcrops. Dry sandy river beds, with their slopes steeply eroded, meander pointlessly away from their mountain sources. Now and then green swamps border on wide stretches of land where no vegetation survives.

Immediately at our feet lay Lake Amboseli, which up to the 'twenties shimmered under a sheet of water, but now lies dessicated with myriad game tracks traced over it. Sometimes after a heavy fall of rain it resembles a lake again, but the dry thirsty earth greedily drinks, leaving the surface caked and cracked, over which the game once more wanders in search of salt pans and grazing.

The harsh, sun-drenched heat, the dust and the flies are all part of Africa, as are the Masai, whose manyattas (dwellings) dot the landscape. They leave timeless scars on the ground where they have burnt their old manyattas to move on in their semi-nomadic state.

Extract ID: 4467
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