My African Adventure
Part 3, the Walking Safari
By John L. Fuhring


     As we continued hiking through this region, we had to climb over some creek beds with fresh water running down slope from Mt. Maru.  I noticed that many people were doing their laundry in the streams and asked Paul about it.  I asked about contamination of the water by people upstream, but he assured me that nobody would ever drink from those streams now that safe water was piped from clean reservoirs high up on Mt. Maru.

Washing in a mountain stream.

     As we approached the more densely populated regions, I saw a school that had been turned into a polling place.  The place was being guarded by a really tough and mean looking soldier and I'll bet few persons voted for anybody but the president at that place.  I didn't take a picture because he gave me a kind of sour look and I didn't want any trouble in case I was violating any laws.  A little distance away there was one of these pipes that delivered good, safe water and people were filling up from it.

     Earlier that morning, as we were starting out I could hear singing coming out of a church we passed at a distance (it was Sunday).  The singing sounded very nice to my ears, but we were too far to make out anything.  Now that it was afternoon, we arrived at a Church and I asked Paul about it and if it was OK to take a picture of it.  Paul said I could.  No, it's not under construction.  I asked what kind of church it was and Paul said it was a Christian church.  Yeah, I know that, but is it catholic, Lutheran, baptist - what?  Well, he knew some catholics, but this was a christian church.  By asking the right questions, I finally got it out that this was built by some Lutheran missionaries.  You see, to Paul the world's religions are divided into Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, African Pagan and Christian.  I mentioned that many educated people regard Catholics as Christians and that Christians are found in many kinds of Protestant churches, but he seem astounded that anybody could seriously believe that.  That's OK Paul, we have many "Christians" here in this "well educated" nation of America that are just as ignorant.

A Lutheran Church.
It is not under construction.
Note the people filling up at the safe water pipe on the right.

     The highway wasn't far now and our trek was just about over.  Paul had walked my butt off, I was exhausted.  I guess he was waiting for me to call it quits, but I never did so he kept walking me until the shadows were getting long.

     On the way back to the highway he started telling me about the Asians (from India, Persia and Pakistan).  Like most native African people, he really hated those people.  I couldn't follow much of what he was saying and the truth is, I didn't want to, but I got the impression that the major sources of dislike stemmed from their business practices.  Africans appear to form warm and close networks to support and help each other.  They seem to me to be very sharing people.  The Asians are very much more like us - selfish - greedy and very hard nosed about business.  The Asians are also like us in that they take the education of their children very seriously.  This emphasis on higher education allows them to occupy all the elite places in medicine, banking and commerce.  The Asians also look down on the Africans and refuse to share profits with them if an African should bring business their way.

     If you have closely looked at the pictures with Paul in them you will notice that he has "chiseled" features more like Europeans than like Bantu Africans.  He is a Nilotic African and is absurdly proud of it.  He knows the term and even went so far as to explain what it meant to me (I already knew since we white people made it up in the 19'th century).  I found it a little disturbing that our missionaries have spread this kind of learning among the Africans so that they now have a name for their racial types and they have this phony basis to think that they are better than other Africans.

     Speaking of the missionaries, I think religious proselytizers, both Muslim and Christian, have done much more harm than good in Africa as elsewhere in the world.  It's just too bad that the education of most African people couldn't come from more secular sources than from the damn missionaries.  I say that because indigent superstitions should not be replaced by equally foolish outside superstitions that leave those people confused about what is real.  They used to speak with ghosts and we told them they were crazy, now they still speak with a ghost, but it's our "holy ghost" and somehow that isn't crazy - or is it?  Yes, it's crazy.  In the mission schools their old superstitions and beliefs in spirits have been replaced with miracles and angels, but they aren't taught the hardheaded skepticism most of us learn in our secular schools in Europe and America.  Without that healthy dose of skepticism that we take for granted, they really don't understand science or economic capitalism and therefore don't understand how the world really works.  Those poor people were and are taught that their own beliefs were/are inferior to the Great White Man's religion and that made them nothing more than primitive savages.  This sense of inferiority pervades everything so that they can't seem to do anything for themselves without outside "help."  The Masaai people are another matter - they tell the missionaries to "stick it" and for that I say: Bully for them.

       Lord, I'd better not get into this or I'll be writing a whole book.  Anyway, back to the story.

      Finally we got to the highway, flagged down a dalla dalla and made our way back to the New Safari Hotel before dark.  I gave Paul his agreed to $25 and a $5 tip.  Sounds pretty cheap of me, doesn't it?  I know that for him it was a major windfall and he was most pleased with his day's work.  He suggested that he drop by again tomorrow and then he'd show me where I could buy stuff there in Arusha.

    On Monday, Paul took me around Arusha on a shopping trip.  I was glad for a native to show me around.  I especially wanted to get a bunch of carved soapstone necklaces my sister Mary Ann wanted.  When we just couldn't find what I was looking for at Native shops, Paul looked unhappy, but said he'd take me to the Asian shops.  He then told me that even though he might bring me in as a customer, the Asians would never give him a tip or do a favor for him in thanks.  As it turned out, they didn't have what I was looking for either.  For a person of American or other European extraction, dealing with the Asians was great - they spoke good English, were well educated, ran the most elite places and were cold but businesslike - just like Americans.

     I'm really not into African Art so I ended up buying very little except a colorful robe - the same robe that the Masaai buy and wear.  I did see stuff for sale that was far superior to the stuff in department stores here in the U.S. at 10 times the prices.

     Next day I caught the shuttle bus for Nairobi.  Took the shuttle past the airport and on into Nairobi so I could get those soapstone necklaces for Mary Ann.  Oh what an adventure that was and especially the trip back to the airport by an unauthorized taxi.  I finally did get the necklaces at the store she told me about, but getting there through the traffic jams and the crowds on the street was really something.

     Here's a warning you had better heed if you ever take a taxi ride in Africa!!  Never, never, never get into an unlicensed taxi.  The two guys I fell in with were thieves and they shook me down for way more than the ride was worth.  They only backed off their demands for even more money when they saw that I was prepared to fight them and call for the police.  Another thing, the old car we were riding in was unmarked and looked like anybody's car.  When we got stopped in traffic, some tough looking natives approached the car and the guys quickly rolled up the windows and locked the doors - man I thought we were going to be carjacked (a very, very common occurrence in Nairobi), but we got away.  I'm sure carjackers would not have tried it with an official looking taxi cab.

     As I said, the "taxi drivers" shook me down there at the airport, but I was able to get rid of them without a fight.  I made my way up to the very nice KLM lounge and waited until midnight when my flight took off for Amsterdam.  Would you believe it, Mary Ann was on the very same return flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles (she was returning from a trip to Hamburg).  We visited and talked as best as we could and that helped pass the time until we arrived home.

     Well, that's it for this story.  Again, I hope you found this story entertaining.  Thanks for your attention.

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