Name ID 2466

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 114a
Extract Date: 1996

The road from Mikumi to Kilosa

We left the Mikumi Lodge at 8:00 a.m. Our route cut through a valley, past an enormous herd of elephants. Near the lodge entrance, a herd of buffalo grazed on a parched brown hill.

I was still trying very hard to follow the exact route of the explorers. From the coast to Dodoma was about one-third of the distance to Lake Tanganyika, and for this first third of our trip it was a struggle to follow Burton's route and to match modern settlements to his place names. What happened, I think, was that the villages grew, or moved, or a town name came to be applied to an area. Also, before the influx of Europeans, the language of this area had no written form and Burton could have misheard names. There were times when I wished I had not decided to try to trace Burton's exact route. But then I would not have made the journey I wanted to make. Burton was a careful and complete diarist. He was exact about where he had gone and why. We found that, west of Dodoma, we could match our route to Burton's much more precisely.

Along the road from Mikumi to Kilosa we saw Sterculia trees. Tall and straight, with pale yellow bark, it is a dramatic deciduous tree with a dense rounded crown. We noticed it all over the countryside. As well, enormously tall, deciduous kapok trees lined the road. They had light-coloured bark and pods hanging from their branches, dark brown outside, like cocoa pods, that split open to reveal the fluffy white substance inside.

The road was bad, not paved, but we kept on, heading directly north. One town we passed through was called Ulaya, meaning "Europe," so called because the first person to camp in this place was a European. We also crossed a road leading to the town of Rumuma, another Burton place name. This region is home to the Sagara tribe.

Extract ID: 5744