African Safari Thrilled Denaby Teacher

October 1968

South Yorkshire Times, October 12, 1968

African Safari Thrilled Denaby Teacher

“They held a sort of conference and then rushed at us, brandishing their spears and shouting in Swahili. A policeman shouted to us to get the bus moving before there was a murder.”

This description of an incident during her African safari in the summer, was given this week to the “South Yorkshire Times” by Airs. Mary Ward, headteacher at Balby Street infants’ Denaby, who lives at 1, Worthing Crescent, Conishrough.

Mrs. Ward went on to “We had been taking a photograph of a Kikuyu woman when a Masai man leapt into the bus and tried to drag us out. An Australian, on safari with us eventually threw him out, but he gathered together a group of six more of his tribe. At the time we were so scared we did not even open our handbags to try to give them money, though if we had, it might have caused greater offence.”

On The Border

The incident took place at the border of Kenya and Tanzania, and, was the most hair raising experience of Mrs. Ward’s holiday. She went with her sister-in-law, Mrs. Grace Hobson, a teacher at Hill Top Junior School, Edlington.

“I had decided I wanted a sunshine holiday, and when I saw a huge porter in a travel agent’s office, advertising a holiday on safari, I knew I had to go.”

After landing in Nairobi, they travelled by Land Rover, driven by young but very skilful African boys, and were often travelling on cart tracks. “At any moment I expected to run into a pride of lions,” said Mrs. Ward. “For miles and miles all one could see were the small Masai villages, just circles of huts about 15 in number.”

The Warriors

Speaking of the Masai people, once the warrior tribe of Kenya, Mrs. Ward said: “The men are no longer permitted to hunt lions, which was once a test of manhood. But one can still detect the warrior in them, tall athletic, lean men. All the women seemed to do the work, and all the men carried spears. A favourite diet appeared to be cow’s blood mixed with milk. The cows are not kept for meat, but as status symbols. When the blood is drained from the animal’s neck, the wound is cauterised.”

Mrs. Ward continued, “At Lake Manyara we stayed at a very modern hotel, sited on the edge of a precipice.” They spent two days at Tree Tops, and saw their only legendary “White hunter.”

“Walking the 400 yards from the jeeps to the hotel we were escorted by a warden with a gun. Tree Tops is a hotel built in the branches of nine chestnut trees. The branches pass through the middle of the rooms and then through the ceilings. At night one could watch the animals coming to drink at the water hole just below us, including elephants and white rhino.”

Under Canvas

At the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro they spent their only time under canvas. “It was very swampy, and mosquitoes abounded but the rest of the time we were on safari in luxury,” she said.

It was a vivid experience to see the animals in the natural background, Cheeta teaching their young to stalk; lions making a kill, though it was so quick one could see how they did in fact kill their prey, usually gazelle, the smaller type of deer, or young zebra. We were not allowed to leave the jeeps in the parks but all the time we were shooting film to show later to the schoolchildren.

“Apart front an English family from Hong Kong we worthy only English people. There was an Australian and his wife, and a Dutchman and his wife, and the African drivers.

“During the day the overhead sun in the interior meant cool, light clothes, but at night it was quite cold, sometimes foggy, and we needed log fires. We had been advised to take plenty of woollens for the cold nights.

Royal Send-Off

“Just before we left we spent six days at Malindi on the coast. We had a real “royal” send-off. President Kenyetta was taking the President of Somalia to the airport, and our car was immediately following. The crowd seemed to think we were the favourite wives, and everyone on the side of the road was waving and asking us to come back again.

“At the airport were representatives from every tribe doing their traditional dances. It was a marvellous sight.”

Next year Mrs. Ward, who is a widow, intends to visit her son, Harold, in America, where he works for the Boeing Aircraft Company. He attended Mexborough Grammar School, and has been in America since March. In 1970 she hopes to get to Oberamergau, Austria, to see the Passion Plays, and to make a return, visit to Africa in three years time.