Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grandfather Diaries III

Some more experts from my grandfather's diary:

Monday 27/8/45

.... Have just shot a rhino in front of camp. When I arrived the chief complained that there was a rhino which kept chasing the people in the gardens and the women were afraid to go to the stream to draw water. I was rather skeptical, having heard this kind of story too often before: it is usually dished up every time an official comes round on tour in the hope of his shooting some meat for them... But as I was camped in the gardens I told the chief I'd see if it really was as bad as he said when it came round. The millet crop has now been reaped and all the tall stalks cut to the ground, so there is a nice cleared open space al around camp, except for a patch of tall reeds about half an acre in extent. Whilst I was having tea, the carriers saw the rhino come out of the reed patch. I went over to investigate but as he went back again into cover I left him and detailed a guard to keep watch and tell us when he came out again, which he did in about and hours time. He was very thin and walked with a heavy limp as if his rear hind leg were injured. we gave him every opportunity to clear off and after watching him for about a quarter of an hour deliberately walked up to him in the open. He charged but I gave him time in case it was bluff but his intentions were obvious. I fired when he was 15 yards away as did the two fundis with me. I was not being foolishly heroic or anything, but merely wanted to give him a chance to clear off if he wanted to. There was very little risk with three rifles. He was very emaciated and his body covered in suppurating sores and he was obviously a very sick animal which probably accounts for his behaviour.

Tuesday 28/8/45

Did not strike camp as I have to get in a stock of meal for the forward journey xcountry to Luangwa as there are no villages for several days after we leave here. Had a party last night. All the youths and maidens (sic?) came and gave a dance around the camp fire to show their gratitude for dispersing of the village monster. One Akunda native (not a local who are Awisa), obviously a professional, gave a most amazing performance and held his audience with the confidence which would make a London stage comedian envious. For his act he wanted a song accompaniment unknown by the locals so he proceeded to teach them, singing a few lines which he made them repeat after him. He had a most attractive voice.  In no time at all the crowd were singing it for him - something about a 'chipembere' and he did a most realistic 'rhino dance'. Then he gave a gruesome exhibition of fire eating and various other self maiming feats which were rather horrid, but what impressed me was his marvelous stage techniques. In fact he was a double of Maruice Chevallier (straw hat and all).


Robyn said...

wow.and that photo.

Lori ann said...

you have the coolest grandfather on the planet.

Angela said...

I sure love his relaxed walking with his lions. Cool indeed! And him even having a sense for Maurice Chevalier performing a rhino dance. See where you girls got your love of theatre from!
How is the baby gal?

Anonymous said...

Man he was a looker. The second piece is hilarious.

Miranda said...

Robyn - thanks for the visit!

Lori - fact

Geli - he said he always carried a big stick because they didn't know their own strength. The baby gal is extremely cute!

Anonymous (Tam, right?) - Man there are some funny bits in that diary x

Lemon Gloria said...

Miranda, I'm pretty much in love with your grandfather. Just wanted to get that out there.