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Hemingway Adventure

Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya

Chyulu Hills, Kenya 
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Clearing lethal Wakamba cattle traps.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureI think of this as Richard shows me lethal cattle traps of tree trunk and coils of wire left by today’s Wakamba who kill the trapped cattle and ship the meat back over the hills to their territory.

As Richard and his rangers dismantle the traps he tells me that poachers would not have been called poachers in Hemingway’s time. What the Wakamba were doing then was practising the right to hunt, part of a long and ancient tradition. Now the law has separated them from their hunting grounds without recompense and without an alternative way of life. The traps are cruel but almost inevitable. Rivalry with the neighbouring two tribes has always been intense. They have always been different, the Wakamba hunting with bows and arrows, the Masai with spears (which they cannot make for themselves, they are forged by another tribe on the foothills of Kilimanjaro).

In True at First Light, Hemingway, even allowing for a bit of romantic bias, has his own characteristic views on what makes the Wakamba different.

Their warriors had always fought in all of Britain’s wars and the Masai had never fought in any. The Masai had been coddled, preserved, treated with a fear that they should never have inspired and been adored by all the homosexuals...who had worked for the Empire in Kenya and Tanganyika because the men were so beautiful ... The Wakamba hated the Masai as rich show-offs protected by the government.

In the evening, back at Ol Donyo Wuas, it’s chilly enough for a log fire. As we discuss the sort of day we’ve all had, Alex, the young Englishman who runs the lodge, rolls up his sleeve to show a mass of claw marks, sustained whilst trying to befriend the con-stipated cheetah.

Maybe I should look at my wound again. With a stronger magnifying glass.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Chyulu Hills
  • Book page no: 176

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