In the essay, A Flowering Evil, by Mark Seal that appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine (2006), we learn that there are two types of people living in Kenya — the White landowners and the Black, 'lawless, immigrant' Kenyans. Earlier this year it was announced that Julia Roberts will star in a movie to be shot in 2008 inspired by this essay. Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi deeply believe Kenyan White landowners should speak for themselves. Using direct quotes, they offer you ...read more
In the essay, A Flowering Evil, by Mark Seal that appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine (2006), we learn that there are two types of people living in Kenya — the White landowners and the Black, 'lawless, immigrant' Kenyans. Earlier this year it was announced that Julia Roberts will star in a movie to be shot in 2008 inspired by this essay. Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi deeply believe Kenyan White landowners should speak for themselves. Using direct quotes, they offer you the top ten reasons why you should read the full essay.
1) You get to know the true nature of the African.
“When I ask one Lake Naivasha landowner and his wife if the cure was more violent than the crime, he hands me a thick and wicked whip. "That's hippo skin," he says. "It hurts. The only thing these people respect is fear. The only way we can live here is by having them fear us." "For the Kikuyu the closest word to respect is 'I fear you,'" adds his wife.
2) You learn about the true Africa and things to avoid.
"Nothing happens halfway here. Everything is wild, violent, savage," a local woman tells me as the sky explodes in a thundering deluge and the mourners crowd around the bar in a tent after the memorial service. "People live dangerously in Africa," says another. "They crash planes, get killed by wild animals, have disastrous love affairs. My husband's mother got bitten by a hippo. A woman we know got hit by a train."
3) You learn about African marriage customs.
“Joan Root stood out, as did David Chege, who soon replaced his torn T-shirts and moldy swimming trunks with mitumba clothing, the second hand apparel that arrives in Africa by the bale. He took Joan's maid as his second wife, a badge of honor in a country where status is gauged by the number of wives a man has, and returned to poaching, although a much subtler form of it”…“He was a wily Kikuyu," says Joan's friend and former tenant Annabelle Thom of David Chege. A resident of the Karagita slum, Chege was a polygamist with two wives and four children.”
4) You learn about European marriage Customs.
Yet over time Alan entered into a relationship with Jenny Hammond, a married woman with two children, with whom Joan and Alan had been long time friends.
"I had an affair with Jenny, which was pretty tumultuous, but after a while I realized that I wanted to be with Joan," Alan tells me. "I had actually given Jenny a settlement and found her a place to live. She didn't want to go back to her husband, and she wasn't too happy that I'd decided to go back with Joan. But she accepted that.
5) You get to see the real eco-system, nature in the wild—Africans, wild animals and those that bravely tame them.
Her diary became filled with despair: sleepless nights, staff betrayals, neighbors getting robbed and shot, and, always, the insatiable needs of black Naivasha. "Isaac came to request a loan to buy [a]donkey to cart water," reads one diary entry. "Gave him a lecture about having seven children but loaned him 7,000 [shillings, or $96] for a start." Leopards killed her Thomson's gazelles, Masai tribesmen sent her and other white landowners menacing letters saying that they should "vacate Naivasha"—which the tribe still claims to own—and her increasingly undisciplined Task Force was falling apart.”
6) You Learn the Real African History.
“Decades before wildlife films such as March of the Penguins, Joan and Alan Root pioneered filming animal migrations without interference from human actors…They introduced American zoologist Dian Fossey to the gorillas she would later die trying to save, took Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis over Kenya in their balloon, and covered much of Africa in their famous single-engine Cessna…”
7) You get to learn about Lord Delamare’s Grandson Tom Cholmondeley.
Tom Cholmondeley in “2005 was arrested but never prosecuted after he had shot a plainclothes Masai game warden whom, he later explained, he had mistaken for a thief on his land. In May of this year,  encountering a group he insists were poachers, who had bows and arrows and a pack of dogs and were hauling an impala across his land, Cholmondeley took aim again. He killed a black man who worked as a stonemason, and has been jailed and charged with murder.”
8) You get to see why for Tom Cholmondeley Justice is Blind.
"Desperate measures for desperate times," says Cholmondeley as he drives me across his vast acreage, [83,000 acres] where fat warthogs run in circles and where poachers can find plenty of places to hide.
"The balance of power had turned completely in their favor," says Tom Cholmondeley, who once watched the Task Force chase a poacher into a swamp, from which they later pulled his buffalo-mauled remains.
9) You see the other side of colonialism in Kenya and learn it was not all about hunting the Mau Mau.
“Joan was beautiful," remembers Parker, who was with four fellow soldiers on weekend leave from the Kenya Regiment in 1955 when they dared one another to ask out Nairobi's five prettiest girls, "whether we knew them or not." Parker chose Joan Thorpe, the tall, shy blonde who had an almost magical way with animals.
10) The article contains the best research on the African continent and its future.
"Welcome to Africa," a young, white big-game hunter says to me by way of consolation over drinks one midnight in Nairobi, insisting that this was just one more tragedy in a country full of them, and urging me to delay my return to the U.S. and go deeper into the continent. "We can investigate French forces fighting for control of oil in Chad, the war over conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone, the slaughter of the local Pygmy people by foreign tribes in the Congo, and the Chinese raping the rain forest. That," he says, "is deepest, darkest Africa."
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