"Twende Safari" :
When talking of African
travel, everyone uses the words African safari. But what is an African safari?
Let's go on an African Safari !
When trading started in east Africa, dozens of local languages were condensed
into a lingua franca: Swahili. A journey was known as "ulendo" in
Central Africa, as "going to bush" or "going on trek" in
West Africa and, in Swahili, as a safari.
Nowadays many so-called African safaris are merely glorified package tours.
You are expected to spend most of your time and money in curio shops and on
the bus with fleeting glimpses of "culture" and "wildlife"
prepared and served up instantly to suit the tight schedule. The genuine African
Safari should be spontaneous and an intimate experience of Africa, just as it
was when the word was coined.
Here is a description of a typical safari, quoted from the journal of a British
explorer. Add a few safety considerations, a bit of comfort and slightly modernize
and lower the culinary expectations and in spirit you have a safari as we try
to make it:
"Starting off early in the morning you went ahead of your safari, several
miles ahead of the porters, and you were alone with your bearer, who carried
your water and food, and you probably had a native tracker who knew the desert.
Of course you were always looking for something to shoot for the pot. You went
ahead and then when it got to about eight o'clock or so it was time to go back
and the tracker for some extraordinary reason was always able to find his way
back to the camp, where you found the safari.
We made camp. It became hot about midday. Nevertheless the cook always produced
a three-course lunch which one was supposed to eat. I recall that frequently
I was asleep by the time lunch arrived. Then when the evening march was resumed
at about four o'clock you went ahead again. But it was always absolute habit
that when you came back to safari, the bwana's tent must be erected and his
table and his camp chair and his bottle of whisky ready for him. Your bearer
had your evening sundowner ready and you changed out of your bush shirt, put
on clean clothes and relaxed in your chair with your evening drink until dinner
was served by your bearer. The African cooks were extremely good; they had the
facility of making virtually a whole meal out of one of those vultureen guinea-fowl
which were so very good eating; they would make a soup out of it, followed by
the most excellent cutlets and give you a savoury out of its liver, and they
were also able to carve a complete bird in slices and put them together again
so that you could take your slice without carving yourself. There was always
a three-course meal and you then had your pipe or cigarette and a drink. Then,
as the night went on you frequently heard the roar of a lion and there was always
the cough of a hyena and the squeal of the jackal - all the sounds of the night
in the African bush, aided of course, by the romance of the amazing starlit
sky. You never slept in a tent but always in the open on your camp bed."