Name ID 1938
Extract Author: Valentine Marc Nkwame
Page Number: 345
Extract Date: 6 Nov 2004
The Ngorongoro Story was indeed ‘Untold!’
Tom Lithgow lived in Arusha for over 40 years, having been a farmer in Karatu district in the early 50s, with a house on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater. The former British soldier, who once served with the RAF during the second world war, recently returned to Arusha from his retirement home in Spain to launch his documentary book about Ngorongoro.
A merry old fellow, Lithgow relaxed as he autographed his 100th copy, to a smiling couple at the Cultural Heritage where copies of his new book are currently being sold. The 143 pages hardcover is published by Camerapix Publishers International.
Tom Lithgow’s book, The Ngorongoro Story, was butchered by critics before it rolled out of the press. This was due to fact that it was highly being speculated as the "never told before" account of Ngorongoro a claim which most people refuted.
Except however, Lithgow’s Ngorongoro Story doesn’t exactly boast that speculated feat, it is just a down to earth factual tale about the world’s sixth biggest crater, covering the history, people, animals and events surrounding the caldera for over half a century.
But again it all filters down to an untold saga, because no matter how many accounts have so far been written about Ngorongoro, none covers some little yet important details of happenings in and around Ngorongoro topped with historical facts about Arusha and illustrated by picturesque photos straight from yesterday. The book is almost a scrapbook in its own, featuring leather colored pages, that remind one of old sea maps.
Most of the photos of course are the classic works of the late Hugo Van Lawick, one of the world’s greatest wildlife snapper who spent most of his life in the Tanzanian game parks, but there are some contributions from another photographer, David Pluth.
Tom Lithgow was born in London, England in 1926 according to the back flap of the publication’s glossy sleeve. However, while being interviewed in Arusha recently, he said he was actually born in Kenya.
That aside, because old Lithgow has come up with a remarkably beautiful book to quench the thirst of any dedicated fan of nostalgic and melancholic feelings, as it features not only past interesting events but also photos which seem to come out of a very dedicated museum, not to mention some astounding, unknown before facts. For instance;
Did you know?
That there was a time that Arusha town experienced floods? According to Lithgow, the area once recorded 30 inches of rainfall and most parts of it were submerged.
That a certain settler once shot down a total of 30 lions that had invaded his farm in the outskirts of Arusha?
A group of lions once attacked an aircraft which was flying above them?
If you hire a gun bearer chances are he may soon shoot you (Accidentally)?
Once wounded by the shot, you may have to catch the first donkey to the nearest hospital?
And the book is dedicated to the memory of the "Most feared and unapproachable king of Ngorongoro;" Adolf Siedentopf (1872-1932) who used to be an explorer, a farmer, prospector, chemist and naturalist, all rolled up into one.
The acknowledgment page gives credit to the late Solomon ole Saibul, the first local conservator of Ngorongoro, his predecessor, Henry Fosbrooke, and Mary Leakey, among others.
There is also a page dedicated to the message from the President, now for a book whose work started 50 years ago, the President is none other than the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, while the message is his own signed declaration as presented at the Arusha held, International Fauna and Flora Conference of 1961.
The Ngorongoro Story is available at Cultural Heritage for the lucky few, because according to the director, Saifuddin Khanbhai, they are flying from the shelf like untamed magpies.
Reviewed by Valentine Marc Nkwame
Extract Author: Susanah Howland
Page Number: 2007 11 27
My family and I are traveling to Arusha and the areas talked about in Tom Lithgow’s book, The Ngorongoro Story, and we will be traveling with Mr. Lithgow's son, Tom. How might I purchase a copy of this book as a gift for my husband before we come to Africa? thanks very much.