Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alex on 'Paradise Found'

Author Of ‘Paradise Found’ Talks About Inspiration For Poem

‘Here where Kenya’s mountain shows
her crown at dawn
A secret mountain, wreathed in cloud
Above the wooded hills…
‘She shows her height then coyly hides
her beauty once again, seen from these
lovely lawns where terraced lakes
reflect the cloud…
‘…Where herons fly and peacocks strut
in fanned delight, kites circle overhead,
and green beneath the graceful lawn,
parades with sacred Ibis,
Sarus crane and marabou.’
- Extracts from a poem composed by a visitor to the Mt.Kenya Safari Club in 1986

'The afternoon full-monty teas, served on the lawn and in view of the colobus monkeys, are something special.' - Travel writer John Fox

February 1 2005 – Nairobi, Kenya.
Alexander Nderitu:
‘My most recent poem, “Paradise Found”, was inspired by the natural beauty of Kenya. The richness of the African landscape has enchanted just about every visitor that ever came here, as exemplified by Alan Paton’s book, “Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful,” which contrasts the “ugliness” of South Africa’s apartheid system with its stunning geography.

‘One might ask why I’m not jaded by now, having lived in equatorial Africa all my life. But the truth of the matter is that I’ve learned more about the geography and natural history of my homeland in the last two years than in all preceding years combined.

‘In 1998, Al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi. Later, unknown terrorists blew up an Israeli resort in Mombasa and others came within an ace of shooting down a passenger plane. After 9/11, the US issued negative travel advisories against visiting Kenya. This resulted in a sharp drop in tourist numbers and a major blow to the highly profitable tourism industry. To make up for the loss of foreign exchange, the government championed domestic tourism which opened eyes and made many Kenyans begin to see their country as if for the time.

‘I didn’t know, for instance, that the Mt.Kenya forest is home to the rarely-seen Black Panther (made famous by a Michael Jackson video) until recently. The Black Panther is actually a leopard with a gene that makes its entire coat of fur black as night. Its close relative, the spotted leopard, is a more common sight, although its numbers have drastically dropped from the time when almost every tree in the bush seemed to contain one. Another rare animal I never knew lived here is the gorilla, the largest of the primates. As black as a panther, the gorilla has haunted the hills of Africa for ten million years.

‘Mt.Kenya itself is a lovely but shy volcanic mountain that usually hides its head above the clouds. Plunging more than five kilometers into the sky, to stand on its peak is to stand on the highest point in the country. At its foot is just one of the myriad wildlife reserves that once made Kenya the world’s number one tourist destination.

‘Barging through the bush is the African Elephant (not to be confused with the Asian variety), a six-ton behemoth that continues growing throughout its life. It may be the largest creature on land but fossils reveal that its ancestors were even bigger. A gentle giant, it was unclear why rogue elephants sometimes mauled humans until a naturalist discovered that all culprits were over-excited bulls at the peak of their sexual desire (called “masting”). In the long, dry grass of the savannah, lions lounge under acacia trees while cheetahs scan the horizon from atop anthills, ready to give chase to gazelles. Favoured with a light, lanky body and taking some of the longest strides anywhere, the cheetah spends half its running time in the air. Meanwhile, along the shores of the rivers and fresh water lakes, crocodiles bask in the sun with their jaws open. Long past their expired-by dates, it’s hard to explain why or how the crocs have survived so long. 200 million years old, the crocs swam with the dinosaurs and survived many global catastrophes, including asteroid impact and the floods that sunk Atlantis. With a small brain, like its dinosaur cousins, the crocodile is so primitive an organism, it needs sunlight to digest its food.(Some species of crocodile are, however, extinct.) When darkness falls across the savannah, a shapely form is seen to slink in the shadows and along tree boughs. A master of the ambush and perhaps the greatest pouncer of them all, the leopard hunts in darkness…

‘Kenya also boasts a long coastline (the south-eastern side of the country marries the Indian Ocean) with white sands and emerald waters. Coral reefs, salt-water fish and luxury hotels are some of the attractions of this part of the world. Blue Marlin swordfish, popular with those who fish for sport, swim alongside giant turtles and tropical fish of every description.

‘Bird lovers are never short-changed in the African wild. From beautiful peacocl to the worse-for-wear vulture and from the 350-pound ostrich to the tiny red-breasted robin, a kaleidoscope of bird life makes the trees and skies come alive. Lakes such as the famous Lake Naivasha turn from blue to pink as millions of flamingoes land in the shallows to look for fish, wading through the water with stick-thin legs.

‘But the spectacle to end all spectacles remains the annual migration of the wildebeest. Fleeing the dry spell in the savannah, over a million wildebeest stampede between Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania, traversing lion territory and crocodile-infested rivers in what has been described as “the greatest show on earth”.’

For more about the Black Panther, visit:

For more about The Great Wildebeest Migration, visit www.governorscamp.com/migration.htm

For more about African wildife and tour spots visit:

(c) Alex N Nderitu http://www.alexandernderitu.com/

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

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