WELCOME To BWANA BILL'S
If You Enjoy Tales of Other Times and Other Places.
Draw Up a Chair and Take a "Journey with Bwana Bill."
Let Him Tell You His True Stories of Foreign and Exotic Places.
New Stories ...
|!! The Monsters !!|
|!! The Mink !!|
|The King & I||MOTI’S TEETH|
|GREGORY'S BEST CURRY|
|Spirits of the "Old Ones" - Guardians of Lost City|
|Scared Crocodile Pond||"Jingle ... Jangle"|
|Mad Doctor, "Not to Worry?"|
AND MR. CHADWICK
In 1958, night life in the Ghana bush country was restricted to entertainment in bungalows occupied by the senior government staff and at the Catholic Mission. There were no TV stations in the Northern Territories and radio reception from Tamale was very poor. Our only contact with the outside world came from our large and very powerful Zenith Transoceanic short wave radio and two week old Time Magazines. Our favorite news stations were BBC, Radio Moscow, Voice of America and Radio Peking - all broadcasting in English to West Africa.
In the addition to the Shultz’s and ourselves, the social group in our area included the White Fathers, the District Commissioner, the Sonntags from Wiaga, the McLeans from Bolgatanga, and all senior government officers including the Veterinary Officers, The PWD supervisor, the Police Sergeant and the Post Master. From amongst this group, there were at least three evening parties in an average week. Often someone would have one or more house guests or department staff visiting from Tamale or Accra. The frequent out-of-towners added spice to these affairs and gave us a constant stream of new jokes as well as national and worldly gossip. We were a merry blend of African, American, British, Canadian and Danish nationalities with a common need - survival in the upcountry bush.
One of our favorite guests became Richard Chadwick, the official ‘white hunter’ for the NorthernTerritories. Dick had thousands of stories about wild game and the men who hunted them. He had served as a game warden and safari guide in Kenya for a number of years before accepting this semi-retired position in Ghana. There was little official work for him to do as wild game, in general, was now fairly scarce in this part of West Africa. Never, in the past five hundred years, had there been much game on this side of the Continent as centuries of tsetse fly infestations, increasing density of population, and unlimited hunting had decimated the herds.
Dick had selected a twenty five thousand acre game reserve in the same general area where an ill-fated peanut scheme had been located. He was slowly getting the perimeter fenced and had recruited a good team of wardens and trackers to keep poachers out. Any wild animal caught or wounded anywhere in Ghana, would be brought to this reserve - and, if they survived, would be released.
The only remaining wild animals still roaming freely in the Northern Territories, were a few majestic roan antelopes - some of them as large as draft horses - the odd small herd of nomadic elephants, a few scattered lion prides, and numerous varieties of monkeys, chimps, scavengers, fowl and small antelopes.
Some of Chadwick’s stories were quite gruesome and he told them with such intensity that his audience sat in hushed expectation for their climaxes. They were never disappointed. One story he always told to newcomers will be shared with my readers as well. To set the stage - we would have eaten a full meal of roasted meat, and might have downed several or more drinks - before Mr. Chadwick would begin relating his story. Most of his best stories were from Kenya , they were always the bloodiest and most frightening , and, of course, could neither be confirmed nor disproved. That’s what made them so good. One of his favorites went like this ,..
"There was one old man-eating lion who lived in the Amboseli Game Reserve. Normally, he stayed with his pride within the reserve and hunted wildebeast and zebras, but occasionally he wanted to kill and eat a human. More and more frequently he would slink away from the reserve - always traveling alone - sneak into a Masai village at night to kill and carry off someone. This was a lot easier for him than waiting for his lionesses to kill faster game. Also, he didn’t have to share his meat with the rest of the pride. He usually looked for children sleeping outside crowded huts and would kill them instantly with a paw swat to their necks. Then he’d carry them off into the bush to rest until his excitement abated, before he’d feast on the tender meat."
By this point in his story, Dick would have everyone’s attention, even those of us who had heard the story several times before. The tale improved with each re-telling. Everyone knew something worse was going to follow and it always did. Into this hushed expectation, he would deepen his plot.
"Now I had been keeping records of these kills and began to figure out his hunting pattern. I was even able to predict the time place he would hit next and was waiting in a Masai village one night when he attacked. There was a loud scream as an old lady was caught as she went to the bush late at night for her toilet. The noise woke everyone in the village and the Masai warriors quickly grabbed their spears and started in pursuit of the beast. I thought for sure we had caught him red-handed. I grabbed my rifle and took off in the chase. However, the wily old lion had been alerted by the commotion and after killing the old dear - dragged her off into deep bush and left her - then disappeared into the darkness."
By this time, all listeners were on the edges of their seats. They dreaded what was coming next but didn’t dare say anything to discourage the story teller. Dick was not only a very skilled story teller, but a ham actor as well. He could quickly judge his listeners intentness and squeamishness and never failed to meet their worst fears.
"Well, the Masai wanted to take the old dear back to the village and give her a proper burial, you know. But they knew a lion’s habits as well as I did. So I persuaded them to leave her just where she lay. I knew the lion was hidden nearby and would come back for his feast as soon as he calmed down and the warriors had left the scene. Finally they agreed to leave her until daybreak and I climbed up a nearby tree where I had a good view of the body lying just below me."
No one dared to breathe as the story reached its climax. Dick was almost whispering now and his deep-set blue eyes, partially hidden by bushy brows, would stare intently at each listener. Everyone thought this story was being told for them personally. "I had taken some rope from one of the warriors and I tied myself to a large branch so I wouldn’t fall out if I went to sleep . I waited for that old lion to come back , and I knew he would. He would never leave all that meat without making an effort to get at her carcass. But in spite of my efforts to keep alert, I must have gone asleep and, at first, wasn’t aware of the lion’s return."
Like a professional, he would pause , yet his eyes kept the suspense. Always someone would urge him to go on.
"Well, you see,
I must have fallen asleep for I was rudely awakened by the sound of cracking bones. I
looked down in horror to see the huge lion lazily eating that poor old dear lady. It was
such a shock that I dropped my rifle. It hit the lion on the back and he stopped eating to
glance up at me tied to that tree limb. I was frozen in fright. I knew I wasn’t high
enough and, if he wanted, that old lion could easily climb the tree and drag me down. I
didn’t dare move or even undo the rope. I could only try to blend into that low limb
and hope he’d forget about me." Another brief pause , a deep breath , then ,
"Slowly and deliberately he ate the entire corpse. While I watched in rigid horror -
he only left her leg bones. When he finished and his belly was full, he carefully licked
the blood from his paws and from around his mouth, but he was staring at me with yellow
demon eyes. I knew he was debating whether to kill me or not. He glared directly into my
eyes , and then I realized what he wanted to tell me , I could read the message
there." Always some lady would plead to know what the lion was saying. "Madam,
his eyes clearly told me that I could live If I promised to stop hunting him. I nodded my
head in agreement. The old lion then left and I untied my ropes. Circling the Masai
village, I headed back to my Land Rover. I never saw that lion again." The story had
ended and everyone’s glasses were empty. Some of the ladies excused themselves to go
to the bathroom.