Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Some quotes Kilimanjaro, or "Ngaje Ngai," or house of God, by James Thomson #QotD

2015.09.28-DSC03328"Joseph Thomson (14 February 1858 – 2 August 1895) was a Scottish geologist and explorer who played an important part in the Scramble for Africa. Thomson's Gazelle is named for him. Excelling as an explorer rather than an exact scientist, he avoided confrontations among his porters or with indigenous peoples, neither killing any native nor losing any of his men to violence. His motto is often quoted to be "He who goes gently, goes safely; he who goes safely, goes far." The Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) was named after him." (Wikipedia: Joseph Thompson)
  • Through Masai land: a journey of exploration among the snowclad volcanic mountains and strange tribes of eastern equatorial Africa. Being the narrative of the Royal Geographical Society's Expedition to mount Kenia and lake Victoria Nyanza, 1883-1884 (1885) by Joseph Thompson
On Kilimanjaro:

2015.09.27-DSC03228As we emerge from the shady grove we stand entranced by a lovely sight which unexpectedly breaks on our view. For many days we have been at the base of Kilimanjaro, and yet not a glimpse has rewarded our frequent attempts to view its cloud-piercing heights. We have begun almost to ask ourselves if we are, after-all, to be doomed to the mere "mental recognition" ascribed to Rebmann. Happily such is not to be our fate. The "Mount Olympus" of these parts stands forth revealed in all its glory fitly framed by the neighbouring trees. There is the grand dome or crater of Kibo, with its snow cap glancing and scintillating like burnished silver in the rays of the afternoon sun, and there, on its eastern flank, as a striking contrast, rise the jagged outlines of the craggy peak of Kimawenzi. What words can adequately describe this glimpse of majestic grandeur and godlike repose? We can only stand speechless with feelings of awe. But our opportunity is brief. The veil has merely been temporarily lifted, and now huge, fleecy-white cumulus clouds roll and tumble along the sides of the great mountain till only the black pinnacle and the glittering dome are seen projected against the pure azure, and hanging apparently in mid-heaven more impressive than ever. At last a veil of stratus mysteriously spreads itself out. In a few seconds the whole scene has vanished, "like the baseless fabric of a vision," and we find ourselves blankly staring at a monotonous expanse of grey.  (pp. 64-65)

Let us now turn our attention to the " Mount Olympus of those parts." But at the very outset let me confess that I shrink from the task of attempting to convey any idea of this colossal mountain. I feel that the subject is beyond the power of my puny pen, and that here, sifter all, I am very much on a level with the untutored Masai savage, who simply stands awe-struck before the sublime spectacle, and tells you it is the "Ngaje Ngai," or house of God. '''

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2015.09.28-DSC03318 The term Kilima-Njaro has generally been understood to mean the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). This probably is as good a derivation as any other, though not improbably it may really mean the "White" mountain, as I believe the term "Njaro" has in former times been used to denote whiteness, and though this application of the word is now obsolete on the coast, it is still heard among some of the interior tribes. Either translation is equally applicable, and we need raise no dispute on such a trivial question. By the "Wa-chaga the mountain is not known under one name, the two masses which form it being respectively named Kibo and Kimawenzi. By the Masai, whose proper names are almost always descriptive of some essential feature, it is known as Donyo (mountain) Ebor (white), from the eternal snow which forms such a striking phenomenon on the dome or crater of Kibo. (p. 115-116)

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2015.09.27-DSC03225Beside these, there extend considerable tracts covered with a pure white crust of natron and saltpetre, formed by the efflorescence of the salts left by the dried-up marshes of the wet season. These areas appear to the eye as sheets of pure white snow or lakes of charmingly clear water. At other times, struck by the rays of the sun, they shine Avith the dazzling splendour of burnished silver. A weird haze envelopes the land with an influence shadowy and ghostly, while the mirage adds to the strange effects, till indeed everything seems unreal and deceptive. The exceptional nature of the sight is emphasized by the stupendous mass of Kilimanjaro, the pyramidal form of Meru, the double peak of Ndapduk, and the dark height of Donyo Erok, which are all faintly traceable through the dull grey sheen. In spite of the desolate and barren aspect of the country, game is to be seen in marvellous abundance. The giraffe, fit denizen of such a region, appears against the horizon like some unearthly monster, or browses among the trees and bushes. The wildebeest, imp-like and fierce in appearance, frisks with uncouth movements, or speeds with stiff, ungainly gallops across the natron plain. Zebras in long lines pace leisurely along from some distant pasture-ground. Hyenas slink home from their meal of carrion. Lions satisfied with the night's venture express their sense of repletion with reverberating roars. The inquiry that naturally rises to one's mind is. How can such enormous numbers of large game live in this extraordinary desert? (p. 158)

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