A sporting life in Africa
Shooting Times & Country|April 21, 2021
Disease is rife out here but at least when you get a bout of Covid you don’t feel left out

In 1929, my father rowed an African war canoe out on Lake Victoria to the island of Zilagora. The boat skimmed ahead of hippo bulls charging them under bow waves. It passed islands of rocks that fragmented as dozens of basking crocodiles slithered into the depths. On Zilagora was a lone survivor dressed in rags with a blackpowder musket, horn and shot satchel. He revealed that crocodiles had eaten some of his fellow islanders, German Schutztruppen had massacred others, while sleeping sickness had wiped out the remainder.

The East Africa my father knew as a colonial officer in those days, wandering as he did with rod and gun, seemed empty of people and teeming with wildlife. A big reason was sleeping sickness; as the Europeans opened up the heart of Africa, migrating tribes cleared land for cultivation. In bush areas they were bitten by tsetse flies carrying trypanosomiasis and sickness ravaged the entire circumference of Victoria, killing multitudes.

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