Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Safari Down Memory Kijia

While wandering the discount tables at Munro Books – also known as ‘the black hole of Andrea’s money’ – I spotted An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. I was familiar with her due to the IMAX movie Born to Be Wild (which I go to see every time they bring it back to our local theatre) so I picked up the book to see if it looked worth putting on hold at the library, reading the write-up before flipping to the photos in the book.

Because everyone needs baby orangutans and elephants in their lives.

I stopped at one of the pictures, stunned by the familiarity of the bright eyes and the impish grin of the person seated next to Dame Sheldrick. I glanced at the caption and confirmed what I already knew. The caption read David Read and myself. I smiled back at the familiar face as my eyes welled with tears.

I met David during my time in Tanzania. He was the warm and friendly landlord of my friend. Deb. With a wicked sense of humour and wit, he would tell stories about his life growing up in the wilds of Kenya and Tanzania, spending his childhood hanging out with the Maasai children. He recorded his childhood in a book called Barefoot Over the Serengeti which I encourage everyone to read.

When I started toying around with the idea of returning to Tanzania, I hoped that I'd have a chance to see David again, to hear his stories and his infectious laugh. Sadly, David passed away this past July. A part of me will always regret that I didn't make more of an effort to make it back to Tanzania sooner.

Yet there was David in the pages of a book I had picked up on a whim. I could almost hear him whisper from the picture, recommending the book.

So, I bought the book.

David doesn't appear in the book until near the end, but he had been a friend of Daphne Sheldrick's husband, also named David, since they served together in WW2. Daphne is a natural storyteller and her love from Africa, her husband, and the animals they served drips from every page.

I loved every page of the book, even the ones that made me cry. Thanks for the recommendation, David.

I, sadly, never did take a picture of David because I was too busy listening to his stories.
I've borrowed this one from here.

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