Name ID 516
Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: Back Cover
Extract Date: 2000
'Beating About The Bush' is the eagerly awaited follow-up to 'Barefoot Over the Serengeti', the tale of a young boy's life with the Masai, on the predator-rich plains of what is now the most famous Game Park on Earth.
The book charts the life of David Read from the period of 1936 to 1952 in the colony of Tanganyika (modern-day Tanzania), as he comes to grips with his first schooling, his move to the Lupa Goldfields and the onset of adult life. Caught up in the War, he marches his regiment of Masai and Samburu warriors from Eritrea to Kenya before leading them via Madagasgar to the jungles of India and Burma.
After demobilisation he becomes a veterinary officer, and it is here that his childhood experience comes into its own, as he roams the African bush, gazetting East Africa's game parks, investigating ritual tribal murder and learning about the reclusive hunter-gatherer Ndorobo people.
Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 011
Extract Date: 1937
The sudden intrusion of life at boarding school proved to be a far more unkind world than I had anticipated. I was far behind in the work, at a far lower standard of ability and could barely Read or write.
When I arrived I was initially put in a class suitable for my age but could not cope with the demands being made on my untrained mind and was sent down to a level more in fitting with my qualifications. That was shaming enough, but I was also bullied and called "white nigger" by many of my peers because of my less than cosmopolitan bush childhood, which made life even harder to bear. Most of the children, and especially the girls, could not be bothered with me believing my lack of knowledge to be a mark of stupidity rather than a result of an incomplete education. The majority of them had been reared in Africa but none had lived a life as isolated from European influence as I, which led to their notions that I was some sort of tribal freak. As the days passed and time softened the harsher opinions of my first arrival, some of the others began to realise that I was not quite as uncivilised as I might have first seemed and two boys of my own age took me under their wing. Jeff Hollyer and David How-Brown were to remain friends for the rest of my life, and Fate would conspire to knit together our paths frequently over the coming years. The characteristics that were to define them as adults, were already branded upon their personalities with Jeff to remain the ginger, short and stocky one with David also of the same colouring, blessed with an open outgoing character that was simultaneously honest and truthful.
Extract Author: Ian Hamilton
Page Number: 2009 03 24
Extract Date: 1937
Thank you for putting together such a good web site, worthy ones of East Africa are rare.
I would like to make contact with Alan McFarland, who in your extract ID:5422, says he knew my mother Tinker Holyer when they were at Arusha School.
Furthermore, David Read in extract ID: 4176 says Jeff Hollyer and David How-Brown were to remain friends for the rest of his life, Jeff Hollyer was my mothers eldest brother, he later became a cattle buyer. I am hoping that the gentlemen in question are still alive and willing to correspond.If for any reason they are unable to communicate, say, due to poor health, could you please inform them of the connection and pass on my regards.
I and some of my siblings were born in Kampala, Uganda, we made a memorable safari in 1957 to visit my uncle in Kisumu and then onwards to my grand parents in Morogoro followed by a spell in Dar-es-salaam before coming to the UK in 1958.
Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 030
Extract Date: 1938
We arrived back at school from this trip a few days before term was to begin, just in time for preparations for the annual attempt on Mount Meru. Mount Meru is a spectacular fifteen thousand foot mountain that would be famous were it anywhere else, but is overshadowed both in height and in reputation by its more famous cousin, Kilimanjaro, across the steppe. It looms over the town ofArusha, nestled in its foothills, and is such an important part of town life, providing the water and climactic conditions that make the town so habitable, that few people who live there have not considered climbing it. This was an annual event and boys over the age of fifteen were, with their parents' consent, allowed to make the attempt. I had taken part in the previous year's climb from the west, but at 13,500 feet many of the boys had dropped back, unable to make it, and the exercise was aborted.
This year there was to be no repetition of that and the mountain would be attempted from the south. It would be heavy going through the bamboo forest, but after that there was a solid rock ridge without the volcanic ash surface which was so tiring and frustrating when approached from the west. The western flank rises in great steps, one step up and then a flat open glade, followed by another climb through thick well-watered forest, then another open glade, with more forest, up to the edge of the volcanic ash at about 12,000 feet. From that height to the top the surface consists entirely of loose ash, making the climb a slippery and exhausting business. On the northern and eastern sides is the huge crater, encircled by 2000 ft high sheer cliff walls and a primeval floor of cedar forest. Strangely-shaped, wizened trees are festooned with Old Man's Beard and the core of the volcano itself rises from the floor of the crater in a grey, grim cone. It makes for an almost primeval atmosphere that is a far cry from the arid steppe to the south.
We found the climb up the steep southern face hard going, with the first part through cedar and loliondo forest. We reached the bamboo belt at about 8,000 feet and it was so thick that the only way to walk through it was to follow the winding game tracks, which were difficult to negotiate and required constant attention to avoid meeting the rhino, elephant and buffalo that also used them. We slept that night at a point just above the bamboo in a well-protected gully near a beautiful spring of clear mountain water, where it became clear that some of the boys had found the climb very demanding and Jeff and I were quite sure that before long the expedition would be turned back. We thought the party far too large, convinced that someone would feel the altitude and become mountain sick, which would necessitate bringing the whole party back. We decided that on the following day, we would make our way to the front of the party and just keep going until we reached the top, even if the rest of them went back. We knew we would get into serious trouble when we arrived back at school, but we were determined to see our names on the "Conquered Meru" Board in the school hall.
On the second morning we left at first light and in about three hours we were well out of sight of the others, so we had a short rest before continuing, until after a breathless two hours, we reached the summit, with sweeping views across to Kilimanjaro and Kenya. We signed the book, had a quick look at this privileged perspective on Africa) before sliding and stumbling back down, catching the rest of the party, already on a return journey, an hour and a half later. Several of the boys were nursing sore stomachs as they had been eating ice for reasons best known to themselves. We thought this state of affairs completely justified our dash to the top, and when Dickie, the master in charge, asked us where we had been, we were quite honest and told him we had reached the summit. He told us he would speak to us when we got back to school, but said that as no one had witnessed our achievement, we could not be listed on the Board until one of the masters had been up and verified the book. We heard no more about it until a week later when our names were called out at Assembly and in a few days the Board shone with its new additions. We felt very pleased and proud of ourselves.
Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 011
Extract Date: 1950's
"IT's going around that we 0l Mologans are only verandah farmers! "
"Well, I wish some of those lazy baskets down below would take over my verandah, particularly the one on the combine," Robin grimaced, as he refilled David's and Piet's glasses with more whisky.
Robin stands six foot but he seemed small beside our neighbours, Piet Hugo and David Read, who were both considerably taller and broader. They all wore sun-faded jeans with openneck shirts. A film of wheat chaff and dust coated their faces, hair and clothes, and with their red-rimmed eyes, sore from the glare and dust of driving their combine harvesters all day, they looked like three amiable ruffians planning a revolution.
At Ol Molog, like few places in Africa, we had two crop seasons each year. We were in the middle of a harvest, a frantic period of activity when the farmers rushed to get their wheat crops off, the fields harrowed, ploughed and planted before the rains came again, when the pressure would ease a little and they could return to their normal farming routine. From the moment the large combine harvester, rumbling and shaking, with its hume reel a wide mouth of chattering teeth, began eating its way through the standing corn, until the last bag was sewn up and the whole crop was loaded on to lorries to take it to the millers eighty miles away, the farmers worked like men possessed.
Ol Molog has a haunting beauty all of its own. No one who sees it is ever likely to forget it. Even those who have heard its praises sung and arrive sceptical fall under its spell. To approach it from the north requires driving or flying across the wastelands of Masailand and, if these are anything to go by, a certain amount of doubt as to what Ol Molog is going to be like must arise in the minds of visitors. Then, perched like an eagle's eyrie on the mountain slopes, are a small group of beautiful, wellordered farms backed by forest and the huge mountain itself.
Ol Molog lies at 6,500 feet up on the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro before the mountain rises steeply into the cupola peak of Kibo, with its crusted snow cap shimmering down its sides. The Kenya border is ten miles below the farms, and had not Queen Victoria felt so generously disposed to her nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm, and given him Kilimanjaro `because the dear boy is so fond of mountains', Ol Molog would have been in Kenya and not Tanganyika.
The Masai plains stretch for over a hundred miles from Ol Molog, with long, low mountain ranges and jagged peaks breaking the horizon. Our view was panoramic in extent and varied day to day, almost hour by hour, as if an artist had never tired of using the same theme with different nuances. At times frothy cumulus nimbus clouds sailed like galleons over the sky, casting dark shadows on the plains, whose biscuit, sienna and ochre hues became more defined after a fall of rain. Far off mountains drew closer in their blue fig tinted splendour. When it was hot and dry, the colours were leached out and the mountains austerely withdrew behind a milky heat haze. Brown dust devils spiralled lazily up as if they would reach the clouds, or a plume of dust would trail behind a Masai herd of cattle, which we could not see but knew must be on the move.
Our sunsets seldom failed in magnificence. Most evenings we would sit on our verandah looking to the west on a sky, a glorious canvas of colour. Like a large orange phosphorescent balloon, the sun would irradiate shafts of lambent flame, brushing the soft billowy clouds with their downy grey centres, so that they looked as if they were gently smouldering.
The winds off the snows of Kilimanjaro brought with them sharp cold nights, heavy dew and mornings that were crystalline like champagne. We had two rainy seasons. In October and January when the rain was intermittent, and from April to May when it poured with a vengeance, filling our mornings with cold damp mist and turning the soil into a quagmire of cloying mud. Perhaps our most beautiful month was June, when our days were alpine in their crispness, clarity and sunshine.
Ol Molog is a Masai name, romantic to us even when we learnt its translation of `little pimples', which was evidently what the Masai considered the small hills resembled which erupted in our area. We had a hill feature on our farm comically called Loikitoip, but there were others with more mystical names such as Ketembellion and Legumishira.
With our bland climate and fertile forest loam soil, we might have been anywhere but in Africa, but we only had to drop down below our lower boundary into the `big country', which for years had drawn men and women from all over the world on shooting and photographic safaris. Hot by day, cool by night, it is typical of what people conjure up when they think of East Africa. Arid plains that are sparsely covered with flat-topped acacia, yellowbarked fever trees and skeletal whistling thorn, so named because their black pods are honey-combed with ants so when the wind blows, the pods whistle eerily. There is hardy scrub, brittle-tufted grass and occasional rocky outcrops. Dry sandy river beds, with their slopes steeply eroded, meander pointlessly away from their mountain sources. Now and then green swamps border on wide stretches of land where no vegetation survives.
Immediately at our feet lay Lake Amboseli, which up to the 'twenties shimmered under a sheet of water, but now lies dessicated with myriad game tracks traced over it. Sometimes after a heavy fall of rain it resembles a lake again, but the dry thirsty earth greedily drinks, leaving the surface caked and cracked, over which the game once more wanders in search of salt pans and grazing.
The harsh, sun-drenched heat, the dust and the flies are all part of Africa, as are the Masai, whose manyattas (dwellings) dot the landscape. They leave timeless scars on the ground where they have burnt their old manyattas to move on in their semi-nomadic state.
Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 014b
Extract Date: 1951
David Read, East African born and bred, is a fair, larger than life-size version of Gregory Peck. In his youth he had become a full blooded Moran, (Masai warrior) having gone through the initiation ceremonies to prove his worth, and he speaks fluent Masai and Kiswahili. He was to become the real professional farmer in the area and his techniques are sooner or later adopted by his neighbours. With natural astuteness he quickly sums up people and situations. Outspoken, with a scurrilous sense of humour and mischievous turn of mind, no one escapes from his ribaldry, and many people puffed up with their own importance deflate under his incessant ribbing and become more human. He has a level-headed understanding of the Africans, neither pandering to them nor being patronizing, and in return they hold him in great esteem.
Extract Author: Andy Hannah
Page Number: 2004 02 29
Extract Date: 1957 - 60
Thankyou very much for opening this site.
You are very welcome to publish all of the below.
I remember Martin, Mary, and Peter Davis quite well. I was in the year above Peter and below Mary. I remember dancing with Mary!!!
Name: Andy Hannah
Years at Arusha: 1957 - 60
Older brothers Lister, Tim, Dave, were also there before me.
Masters: Morgan, Hampshire, BL Jones, HA Jones, Lanky Johnston. Pop Hazel.
Matrons: Mrs Fisher (David Read's terrfying mother) (head matron), Mrs Birchman, Miss Balfour, Miss De Beer (also terrifying), Miss Bear, Miss Pollack, Miss Randall, Miss Morrell, Mrs Evans.
Teachers: Miss Ingles (gentle and fair), Miss Monroe (loud voice), Miss Elizabeth Gray (lots of fun), Miss Jenkins (Gypsy), Miss Lundy (spunk).
Friends: Peter Bird, Christopher Ronaldson, Roger Haggerty, Itzak Abramovici, Stewart Hammond, Ian Steer, Daniel Marjocki, David Spoors, Michael Carter, George Legnani, Adrian Van Schoor, William Power, Brenda Ulliat, Henrietta Shannahan, Pauline Shannahan, Yvonne Karafiat, Susan Hunt, Nida Mogelnikskii, and others (sorry if I've left anyone out).
(Sorry if I've spelt anyone's name wrong)
Looking back, I think that Hampshire ran a pretty tight ship. I suspect that he also knew who the nice teachers were and who the not so nice, and arranged things so that we all had our fair share of both.
However, my principal memories are negative:
It was like a jail, and we were regimented a lot of the time.
There was always an anxiety that I'd do something wrong and get the tacky (or HA Jones' "persuader"). I didn't get punished that often, but half the time it was for an innocent absent-minded mistake.
My time in standard 3 was particularly unhappy because I was landed with a sociopathic dorm-leader.
Some of the female teachers went out of their way to make us feel small.
I think the most positive aspect was the friendships formed.
I would be delighted to get in contact with any of the above.
I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am married and have 4 kids (2 eldest have left home).
Great to hear from you, and thanks for your memories which I shall add to the web site when I next do an update.
You mention Mrs Fisher (David Read's terrfying mother)! I must tell that to David Read. I met him last October, and hope to see him again when I go back to Arusha at the end of May.
Your surname sent me back to my parent�s archives, and I�ve found one slide of the Ball family, plus Timothy Hannah standing in the garden. I�m not sure if you have worked it out from the web site, that my father was the rector of Christ Church Arusha from 1953-57, and I seem to remember that we had various boys to tea on Sunday afternoons. I�ve been looking, but so far haven�t had enough to time find anything more, but I seem to remember that your father�s names was Wells or Welsley.
I really need to go back to my fathers diaries to check my memories, and I could well be confusing you all with another family. But I seem to remember also that your father was in London in the early 60�s and he took me to a rally in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster at which Dr Hastings Banda was speaking.
My slide scanner is on loan at the moment, but when I can I�ll see if I can send you a copy of Timothy�s picture and any other pictures I might find in the meantime.
I�ve also got a couple of copies of the Arusha School Magazine, and see that in 1955 Timothy Hannah won a Standard I Form Prize!
Thank-you for your reply.
By the time I arrived at Arusha School, your family had left the vicarage, but I get the impression that both Tim and Dave spent a fair time at your house. In fact, I think it was your Mum who introduced meringues to our family - via Tim who insisted on our Mum trying to make them.
Yes, Dad's name was Wellesley, and he was working at the time as a medical missionary in Mvumi, near Dodoma.
Sadleir, Randal Tanzania, Journey to Republic
Page Number: 210
Extract Date: 1958
I made friends where possible with some of the intensely individual white settlers, several of whom I already knew, like David and Pat Reid [sic]. I had attended their wedding at Ranchi and had stayed with them at Ol Molog on West Kilimanjaro where, on their splendid farm cut out of the forest, they grew not only wheat but also prize beans for export to the Netherlands.
1982 Publishes: Read, David and Chapman, Pamela Waters of the Sanjan
Read, David and Chapman, Pamela Waters of the Sanjan
Page Number: foreword
Extract Date: 1982
David Read was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 23rd April 1921. Left on her own when young David was barely three months old, his mother faced the daunting prospect of fending for the family at a time when things were far from easy for a lone woman. She eventually sought a living in Masailand when David was seven, the only European woman for a hundred miles around, and there she ran a small Hotel and traded with the Masai. Here, too, David spent the next seven years of childhood, a period during which he became every inch a Masai but for the colour of his skin. His only playmates were the Masai children. Masai became his first language, seconded by Swahili before English, and he ran wild with his friends and the game, unfettered by European conventions, free to roam those wide open spaces steeped in African tradition and the Masai way of life and associating closely with Nature and the wildlife in the process. Totally accepted as a Masai by the tribe, he took part in meat festivals and other tribal gatherings and ceremonies. This period of his early life is covered in his first book BAREFOOT OVER THE SERENGETI.
At the age of 14, David was plucked from the African plains and sent to school in Arusha. Any previous lack of academic learning did not prove too great a handicap, for within three years he had drawn level with his contemporaries. His schooling was completed by Correspondence Course whilst employed as an Apprentice Metalurgist by the Tanganyika Department of Geological Survey.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the Kenya Regiment and later served first with the Royal Air Force and then with the Kings African Rifles in Abyssinnia, Madagascar and Burma. When the fourth Platoons were being formed for service in Burma, and David was to be posted to the Far East, Samburu servicemen put in a plea to serve under him, despite the fact that he was destined lor a Uganda Battalion. After the War, he commanded the Uganda contingent to the Victory Parade in London, and then joined the Tanganyika Veterinary Department.where he spent the next 6 years. During this time, he covered areas that included parts of Masailand and was able to renew his former close association with that tribe.
Having eventually acquired a farm of his own on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, also in Masailand, he went on to become a leading farming figure and prominent landowner in Tanganyika. Chairman of the Tanganyika Farmers Association from 1973-1975. However, after Independence was granted to Tanganyika in 1961, his properties began to be gradually eroded, during which period he was employed part-time by the Anglo American Corporation in Zambia as an Agricultural Consultant. By 1975 the Tanzania Government had acquired the last of his properties and he left Tanzania for Zambia and then. South Africa, where he again tried his hand at farming, an interlude in his life that proved far from happy or satisfactory. Finally in 1979 he returned to Kenya to join Lima Limited as their Agricultural Consultant.
Farmer, Cattle-Dealer, Hunter, keen Aviator, fisherman and Boat-builder, Mr. Read is married with one daughter. He is unquestionably a leading authority on the people of Eastern Africa, speaking several African dialects, but it was with the Masai that he spent his formative years, and with whom he has been most closely associated ever since.
Extract Author: Susan Ross
Page Number: 2004 02 19
Great informative website! I was in Tanzania last year and Read "Barefoor Across the Serengeti" while there. I'd like to order "Beating Around the Bush" by David Read. Can you tell me how to do this? Thank you.
David Read now has his own web site
On the books page you will find information about where to find his books.
You don�t say what country you are in, so if you have problems where you are, I suggest you contact David direct at the email on the web page.
Extract Author: Staff Writer
Page Number: 388f
Extract Date: 24 Sep 2005
The daughter of the actor who played both 'The elephant' and 'Jackal' in the block busting movie, 'Hatari!' filmed here in the early 60s, was in Arusha this week. She rekindled the dramatic memories of that 'live' set in which real animals were used to wreck havoc in town.
Marylin Porter, formerly known by her maiden name as 'Nee Read,' said her father, the late, Norman Read who was a professional hunter, had been enlisted to play the role of 'animal voice personification,' in which he trumpeted like an elephant and laughed like a hyena.
"Because as soon as the elephants were brought to town, they refused to make any noise." On the other hand though the animals did their best in displaying cross-country skills as they run round the town and into supermarkets, not to mention the Safari Hotel where they caused plenty of mayhem.
During those days, Marylin alias Nee, was attending the Arusha school with her mates. After classes, she recalls, the girls used to cause as much tension as the elephants of Hatari did. "We would normally go into supermarkets and steal candy, sweets and biscuits," she admits.
"Hatari!" is the story of a group of men who lived around the Arusha Game Park and caught animals to be sent for overseas zoos. The actors include; John Wayne, who played the role of Sean Mercer, the head captor. Red Buttons who was "Pockets" the driver and Hardy Kruger, a German known in the film as Kurt.
In the movie, a photographer named Dallas (Elsa Martinelli) comes to spend a season and everyone is surprised (and delighted) to find that she is a woman, and a beautiful one at that. She goes out on hunts with the men and is attracted to Sean; he likes her, too, although he won't admit it. Pockets and Kurt fight over their old boss' daughter, Brandy, who is grown up now.
There is plenty of wild animal action (the actors really did catch the animals), plenty of fun, and innocent romance, too. John Wayne has one of his best roles as the rugged he-man who acts all dopey around a pretty girl. Miss Martinelli is very good as the Italian beauty who falls hard for Sean and is the object of two baby elephants' affections, as well.
"Elsa was horrible!" Said Marilyn, explaining that the actor was as bad-tempered in real life as she was in the movie. After completing school, Marilyn worked part-time as a receptionist at The New Arusha Hotel, before leaving for Zambia then later on Zimbabwe and finally Botswana where she got married. Nee now lives in Australia.
"I constantly come to Arusha to visit my uncle who lives at Ngongongare location of Arumeru, around Momella," she said. Her uncle is none other than David Read, the brains behind the outstanding book titles: 'Barefoot over Serengeti,' ' Beating about the Bush,' ' Waters of the Sanjan' and the recently released, 'Another Load of Bull.'
Marilyn had a few things to say about his uncle as well. "He is always in a hurry, hardly settles." She reveals. But David Read remained unperturbed by such remarks.