I arrived in Dar-es-Salaam harbour on my 8 Th birthday back in 1958 promptly went down with malaria. Yet this was the start of some of the most magical years of my life. What a wonderful place for a child to grow up I was out there from 1958 to 1968
I will try to share some of those wonderful memories with you
Living in Africa
© Linda Hillier/Hamilton 10/03/2013
In 1958 we went to Dodoma
there's a sleepy place
on the outskirts we lived
nightly, rubbish bins scatted
as big cats and hyenas scavenged
Leopards living a mile away
250 yards only or so then
straight into the bush
mangoes growing in our garden
yummy as you bit down on one
a flood of nectar down your chin
on safari often we would go
canvas so thick it weighed a ton
ridge poles six inches thick
nightly, lions prowled and roared
send icy shivers down our spines
guns we had and knew how to use them
sheaf knife always at your waist
by age of ten I could gut and skin a deer
this was survival at the edge
as meat was only airlifted in once a month
cattle too riddled with pests and T.B for us to eat
monsoons, oh that rain like 7 tubs of bath water
dumped on your head at once
dry parched earth suddenly a river 2-3 inches deep
poor little birds lying stunned under the trees
yet 30 minutes later after it ceased, the earth
once more parched and dry, crumbly in our hands
all this and so much more
was my childhood play ground
ah Africa, Sweet Sweet Africa
I love you still, and always will
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This covered my first two years of living there
at 10 we moved back to the coast to Dar-es-Salaam
now started a new chapter one that helped to define me and make me who I am today. Africa is a place of dark deep mystery of things us whites will never fully understand I saw barbaric things out there. The power of their witch doctors has to be seen to be believed, when they curse someone that person takes to their bed and slowly fades away may take three or more weeks but they just lose the will to live, you can scoff but I know I have seen it happen.
Although I wrote this poem first I have shown the other first for a more flowing potted history of my early life
© Linda Hillier 08/03/2013
I hark to freer days of childhood
Life simplicity in itself
Days of laughter, of playing in the sand
so so soft and fine
Golden white sands from the coral reefs
sparkling, dazzling bright
Staring into coral pools at Tide's ebb
beautiful rainbows of fish
Endless darting, sea cucumbers sleepily still
a child's total delight
Coconut palms wave gently in the salty breeze
scale them I tried in vain
Inland to the vast savanna's teeming with life
tall grasses the lion hid
A wondrous baobab tree reaching up for the sky
look it grew upside down
For all the world to see, branches like roots
beware the croc log
Hippo's snorting, noise vibrating as they plunge
then resurface amidst bubbles
All these wonders through child's eyes seen
Africa my heart you have still
I tell you what my friends, I swear to you
blindfold me, put me to sea
Around twenty nautical miles or so
and I would know alone
By the vibrant scents of rich earth and spices
that I am back there
Near heart's home, the East African coast
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Posted: Fri Mar 8, 2013 11:17 AM WET
I hope people will enjoy what I have written so far I will write more soon
I will diverse a little just to give a full picture I was born in Scotland moved to London at 2 years old the to Las Palmas at 3 until I was 5, returning to London. We shipped out on the SS Kenya travelling through the Suez canal now that was a sight (but another story) and as you know arrived in East Africa on 21st march 1958
WE lived in Oyster Bay on out skirts of Dar and that's the beach described in my poem African Skies. All the government bungalows were in an acre of land and had a separate garage with servants quarters at the back of them.
Oyster Bay is a wonderful beach there are cliffs to the left as you look out to sea which we used to scramble up and tried in vain to hook an eel they always took both bait and hook.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=SosiBqiUJTM video of beach
Oyster bay beach is approx a quarter of a mile long and crystal clear waters ideal for snorkelling and oh friends, the wonders you could see as you swam in waters warm as a bath. No sharks or barracudas because of the reefs sand one minute the next coral reefs and wondrous pools with all sorts to find in them. Once we saw a squid but my Mum said don't touch it they bite, then with a cloud of ink it vanished.
My father built a trimaran in our garage hull by hull took him 2 years what fun we had on her. Cassarobo was her name main hull was 30 ft side two hulls 24 ft span of 18 ft and she slept 6 before that we had a 15 ft catamaran and one day we sailed out of Dar-es-Salaam harbour on our way to Inner Makatumbe island (locally know as honeymoon isle) about one nautical mile away one hull flooded and although, my sister and I didn't realise it, we were in grave danger of sinking. Luckily for us eventually some other boats moored up on Honeymoon Isle saw our plight and rescued us I doubt I would be here today otherwise.
On another occasion we were sailing up Dar creek on our way to a beach now this creek turns to fresh water as you go up it.
Suddenly we heard Crack, crack, crack and round the bend doing the butterfly stroke came a hippo. My Dad warned us don't move or make a sound so we sat quiet as church mice as it swum past us and away into the distance (this was also on the catamaran I think she was a fated boat).
My father also build me a small boat called a dab chick now this is a boat that has two planks forged together with a helm and centreboard and a mast with 2 sails they were forever turning turtle in gusts of wind and you leaned on the centreboard to get them back upright (Similar to surf boards just 2 boards with hollow between them) One day us kids were out in the harbour racing each other from the yacht club to the sand spit on the other side of the harbour when it got Squally. Now every one else had the sense to go back to the yacht club but my dab was flying and I stayed out turned turtle twice and got her back up then, the next time we went over as I tried to right her she hit me hard on the head and promptly turned turtle again. Dazed I sat on the upside down hull as we drifted closer and closer to the harbour wall.
we were pretty close when the lifeboat rescued me. Needless to say that got me grounded from sailing her for the rest of the summer. It even made the local newspaper teenage girl nearly drowns lol There's been many times in my life I should not have lived to tell this tale some you will hear of as I narrate on
Dar es salaam harbour acrostic
© Linda Hillier 11/03/2013
Dar harbour full of teeming life
A mass of colourful ships and boats
Radiant do your waters gleam
Each wave gently lapping the shore
Sails fluttering in the breeze
Slowly yet violently the yachts jib
As they sail and tack against the wind
Loud blast out the ships horns
As the tugs pilot them to sea or dock
And the gulls screech diving in their wakes
Many colourful dhows sail in to moor
Hot breezes on my face
As midday temperatures soar
Raising our sails we float
Bringing our bows into the wind
Out to sea we are headed
Under full sail we skim the waves
Ready for what ever adventures await
After being grounded from sailing for the rest of the summer. I wondered what to do. Luckily we were due to go to Ngorongoro Crater so bored I would not be. This great reserve is in the rift valleys and our hotel was at the top of the very steep escarpment over looking the plains.
I will now digress a little to give you a few facts in Italics
so you can skip if you wish
people have occupied the crater for over 3 million years. The Mbulu settled there 2,000 years ago. Joined by the Dalooga in around 1700. Both groups were driven off by the Masai in the early 1800s .Masai honoured sacred massive fig trees that grow in the north west of the Leria Forest It is thought that Oscar Baumann was the first European to step foot in the crater in 1892. Originally part of the Serengeti national park there is a population of approx 25,000 large animals living in it
I am now in 1964 and 1965
Its one of the magical places on our world, wild life teems here
driving down the escarpment one morning we saw a wounded rhino who had a massive wound to his left shoulder, an irritable animal
at the best of times this wound had infuriated the poor beast.
S/He charged at us now we were around 6 feet or so below him/her as the road cut down the escarpment. We were lucky as in our canvas covered jeep we would have been flattened by it thankfully it landed about 4 foot behind us and as we were going down hill we were able to leave it far behind. We drove around the crater spotting all sorts of animals. A pride of Lions feasting on a kill cubs there with them (in 2001 there were 62 lions living in the crater) We drove to Lake Ndutu which was pink from the distance. Flamingos every where a splendid sight to see.
As dusk drew near we headed up the escarpment back to our hotel and as we went around a bend off to the side was a large bull elephant not happy to see us he started flapping his ears as we drove past and then trunk held high charged after us, trumpeting his rage we did make it, as you climb up every now and again the escarpment temporally flattens and we were able to pick up enough speed to escape but it was another very close call. My father has a black and white photo of this incident. (these adventures that I narrate to you are true)
This is a good spot to stop I will write Africa 4 soon
Africa Sweet Sweet Africa part 4
I remember so many times when African ways of life were put a risk by us so called civilised people We Europeans have a lot to answer for. To Africa and its Africans I apologise we had no right to interfere. The poem at the bottom of this page is how I feel about the damage Man is doing every where to our planet
back to my story
Many is the mile I have travelled since I left your fair shores.
Tears in my eyes as I think back to those care free days of youth.
I remember whilst out hunting driving through villages deep in the bush seeing Children playing naked in the rich red dirt, their only toy a bicycle rim with no spokes (or just a few) they would roll it round with a stick never missing a beat. If they were lucky they would also have a lorry tyre hung as a swing from a tree.
Yet these children would run up to us enormous smiles beaming out, shouting Jambo Bwana, habari wewe, unatoka wapi? We would reply Mzuri sana asanti sana, natoka Dar es salaam. Their parents standing shyly behind ,but if you wanted to take a picture hapana they would cry out. As they truly believe if you took one, you captured their soul in the image and made them your slave. I often think they with their simple lives were far better of than my own children with all the trappings of modern life.
My mother worked as manageress of the Oyster Bay hotel (I believe it was torn down and replaced in the early 2000s) She once brought home some witch doctor charm bags our servants were not happy mbaya kbasa they said.
Well, what ever, my mother found she could not be in the same room as them. She would get the most agonising headaches, my dad scoffed and said she was imagining it. He kept hiding them all round the bungalow, in the car and even on the yacht. Finally he believed her and they were given away.
I used to go down to the hotel some lunch times and my mum would tell me to go wait for her in the bar. I was 14 but allowed a vodka, one she was a long time so I had 3 . Oh my when I cycled back home the road was dancing around in a most peculiar way. Like an idiot I had a couple more at home, then feeling quite funny sneaked into my parents bedroom turned on the air conditioner and lay down.
Next thing I knew it was nearly 6 pm I was supposed to be going swimming at 3 pm. Next to the bed I found a note to my dad from mum saying she hadn't been able to wake me up and would he keep an eye on me as she thought I was ill. I can tell you all I had far more respect for alcohol after that.
What The Hell Have We Done!!!
© Linda Hillier/Hamilton 27/02/2013
How can anything live in this World of ours
No Green any more have the Trees
Flowers now all Black and Dying
No Songs, the Birds no longer Sing
No Wind rustles through the Trees
What The Hell Have We Done
The Waves no longer crash on the Sea Shores
No Sound of Music playing in the Air
Children, We no longer hear at Play
The Vast Sky An Enormous Black Void
What The Hell Have We Done
No Fish break the Surface of the Still Lakes
No Sounds of sheep or Lowing of Cows
This World of No Colour or Laughter
Sends Shivers Down my Spine
What The Hell Have We Done
Nature tried Time and Time Again
To Warn us to Change our Ways
Sending Plagues and Aids among Other Things
But Did We Listen to Her Pleas?
What The Hell Have We Done
Instead We De-voided Forests of Their Trees
Polluted Our Rivers, Lakes and Seas
Why didn't We Listen, We Just Continued
To Pillage and Rape This World of Ours
What The Hell Have We Done
Everywhere I look I see Emptiness
There is Only One Colour Left
That of Blood soaking into the Land
Its Vivid Red Hue shocking
What The Hell Have We Done
yet as all will know
blood when it hits the light
turns colour, turning to Black
against the Blackened Earth
What The Hell Have WE Humans Done
I learnt a lot about various medicines and herbs from a wise woman out there. she also taught me about the various spirits and how to call on some of them and introduced me to ganja as weed was called there. Once she took me to a tribal dance where they were invoking up the spirits she hid me in a hut. Told me to stay very quiet as the witch doctor would not like me being there. I saw and learnt things that night that whites never usually see but she felt that in some way I like her was destined to be a healer.
She was right I am what people call Fey and I have basically untaught skills I am visionary, attuned to the supernatural, augury and metempsychosis. I have all my life since leaving Africa used these skills to help others.
Many times I have felt someone needing help and have been able to reach out either physically or mentally. When I am in peril my spirits rush and protect me, I have 2, the timber wolf a true friend and guide and unusually for a female the powerful golden eagle The eagle I believe I was granted that night by the witch doctor who had known I was there when he entered his trance he said I walked with him in the spirit world. I was named mzuka mtoto(spirit child) this is my African name.
Africa opens your eyes to what for most is hidden behind veils there is much in this world that lacks a logical explanation this I believe is when for an instance the veil lifts.
If you have belief you will see more and learn more.
Sadly most will never see these wonders. I follow the teachings of the spirits and some of the gods and goddesses I live by the guidance of Mut (mother nature) ask Pax for peace and Sirona to help with healing.
I believe I would be a far different person if not for my time in Africa. I am glad that I am who I am and each day I try to help and give to others. I do this freely as I believe that if we are given such gifts of the gods they are not meant to be used for profit.
My thanks is to have helped. I don't need the so called riches of the world I feel blessed each and every day.
Thank you all for taking this walk down memory lane wih me I hope you have enjoyed seeing the journey through my thoughts even if at the end you can't believe, pause and stop to think of the things that are inexplicable.
I rest my case