Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tsavo's Ghosts Are Darker Than We Knew

Here is an update related to my blog The Ghost And The Darkness : Spirit Killers Of Tsavo

The reasons for the Tsavo lions being mankillers have been studied for over a hundred years. It has been noted that over-hunting and a recent drought at the time may have driven the lions to seek easy game. Also one lion had teeth and jaw problems which made hunting game difficult. But what has been left out of the narratives is the geographic and historical context of the Tsavo region. Author Allen Weisman discusses this below.

“The destination for black slaves in East Africa was not America but was Arabia. Until the mid-19th century, Mombasa, on Kenya’s coast was the shipping port for human flesh, the end of a long line for Arab Slavers who captured their merchandise at gunpoint in Central African villages. Caravans of slaves marched barefoot down from the Rift, herded by armed captors mounted on donkeys. Slaves, shooters, and whichever prisoners had survived the journey made for the fig-shaded oasis, Mzima Springs. ….
For days slave caravans paused here, paying Waata bow-hunters to replenish their stores. The slave route was also the ivory route … As demand for ivory grew, its price outstripped that of slaves, who became chiefly valued as ivory porters. … Jackals and hyenas followed the caravans, and Tsavo’s lions developed reputations as maneaters by dining on dying slaves left behind.”

The famous but failed lion catcher.

And of course the route of the railroad would have been the same route as the old slave caravans in that both would have followed the easiest and most direct route and both would have required water be available along the way. Remember in the late 1800's railroads ran steam engines that needed water every 15 miles or so.

This seems to me to add a much greater dimension to the story of the Lions of Tsavo. The lions were not the evil. They were the natural result of generations of greed and inhumanity by man. If the lions seemed evil, they were so because they fed on the evil produce by man.

Unless... unless they were a manifestation that had arisen from blood and flesh shed there.... the ghosts of the darkness perhaps


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

This is a really interesting, fascinating, enlightening piece. Needless to say, it will be ignored by people who have no brains. Me, though - I love this kind of thing.

drlobojo said...

Is there any story without layers of back stories?