“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
There is something very special about being in the wilderness of Africa (by which I mean one of the many national parks, game reserves and other natural spaces across this huge continent). I feel a sense of deep, deep relaxation alongside the thrill of observing wildlife in its natural habitat, and enjoying the beauty of the landscapes. I have found that in other similarly wild places around the world, but the African wilderness is somehow nourishing to the soul.
Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen) has captured that essence so simply here… the first half of her quote really resonates with me, talking as it does to the internal song, the soaring notes that are felt rather than heard. The rest of the passage is perhaps more pertinent to Blixen’s colonial experience, and that is not something I can readily romanticise, given the disenfranchisement of native populations and the plundering of their countries’ resources.
But this image of an African plain, giraffe’s loping along, the new moon above… it’s compelling!
I took this on one of our many safaris, in Kenya’s Masai Mara… with its wide open grasslands studded with umbrella-shaped Acacia thorn trees, and the silhouettes of a herd of giraffes loping along in line at the horizon…
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