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Updated: Aug 15, 2019

Over the years, from past expeditions, there have been so many great quotes to come out of the famous African literature. More often than not they are murmurings from the pioneer safari hunters some 80 to 100 years ago that still ring true today. This is the art of storytelling and to have a profound impact on a person’s mind is the ultimate reward for these talented wordsmiths. I have been caught up in the great literature of the yesteryear and often revert back to these writings to this day but there are also some great modern day writings too.

Inspiration is a divine influence or action on a person resulting in a feeling of enthusiasm, a revelation you get from someone or something which gives you new and creative ideas. You can decide if these quotes are inspirational to you but they certainly resonate with me and I would love to share them with you.

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Even though Hemingway lived many moons before my time on this earth, his recollection of Africa still echoes with me today. I’ve woken up sore from tracking mbogo & eland and I have risen with a few splitting hangovers in Africa but never have I been unhappy! Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, short story writer and journalist that wrote the novel Green Hills of Africa, released in 1935. Some of the material for the novel came from a 10-week expedition to East Africa in 1933 where he visited Mombasa, Nairobi and Machakos in Kenya. Then moved on to Tanganyika Territory, where they hunted in the Serengeti, around Lake Manyara, and west and southeast of present-day Tarangire National Park. When asked what was next for Hemingway upon his return from his safari, he was quoted by a newspaper reporter as saying he was going “to work like hell and make enough money so that I can go back to Africa”

Ernest Hemingway with a lion circa 1934

“Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.” – Brian Jackman

Following with the theme of Hemingway’s feelings towards safari and working hard to get back, Brian Jackman has summed it up extremely well. For someone that hasn’t been, I’m sure you have been advised about this nasty bug. However you won’t know it’s true, itchy bite until you have experienced safari for yourself! The other truth to this quote is that everything in Africa bites. Danish Author Karen Blixen also has a similar sentiment towards Africa when she said “If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.” I’m sure this will ring true in the later years of life when the body starts to let you down.

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.” – Richard Mullin

Compared to Jackman, Mullin has gone about it from a slightly different angle. In this quote I believe that, to an extent, he is describing the anticipation, joy, wonder and excitement of his first safari and the jealousy he feels of a man that has never been because you can’t experience Africa for the first time again once you have been. Another thought is that he could be envious of the fact that if you have never been to Africa, you may not be so consumed by the experience as someone that has been. It takes control of you like nothing else and in most cases it’s all you can think about.

“To experience fantastic things, you need to put yourself in fantastic places.” – Donnie Vincent

Donnie Vincent is an explorer, biologist and modern bow hunter with a unique way of articulating his story. There are many hunters that abide by his testament but aren’t able to tell their story in the same, profound way. His video “Who We Are” from 2014 shows the viewer a glimpse into his spirit and this is where the quote originated. Africa is a fantastic place, well worth putting yourself in.

“He looked at me as if I owed him money.” – Robert Ruark

The full exert from Suicide Made Easy published in Field & Stream in January 1954 is much more in depth and is so close to the mark that it is still relevant some 65 years later. I don’t think anyone has come close to beating this description of a cape buffalo. “I lurched up and looked at Mbogo, and Mbogo looked at me. He was 50 or 60 yards off, his head low, his eyes staring right down my soul. He looked at me as if he hated my guts. He looked at me as if I had despoiled his fiancée, murdered his mother and burned down his house. He looked at me as if I owed him money. I never saw such malevolence in the eyes of any animal, human being, before or since. So I shot him.” Ruarks enthusiasm for Africa was contagious and it resulted in hunters travelling to Africa from all across America and the world. Although the world has changed considerably since, his writings are timeless and you could be mistaken for thinking a current day author has written them. Take this exert from Horn of The Hunter published in 1953 - "The hunter's horn sounds early for some, later for others. For some unfortunates, poisoned by city sidewalks and sentenced to a cement jungle more horrifying than anything to be found in Tanganyika, the horn of the hunter never winds at all. But deep in the guts of most men is buried the involuntary response to the hunter's horn, a prickle of the nape hairs, an acceleration of the pulse, an atavistic memory of his fathers, who killed first with stone, and then with club, and then with spear, and then with bow, and then with gun, and finally with formulae."

“When you leave Africa, as the plane lifts, you feel that more than leaving a continent you’re leaving a state of mind. Whatever awaits you at the other end of your journey will be of a different order of existence.” – Francesca Marciano

There is no doubting it, Africa will alter your existence. When you arrive home your regular life will greet you, which in no way is a bad thing, but your thoughts will wander back to Africa regularly. Francesca has nailed it with this extract from Rules of The Wild.

“A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” – Fred Bear

This one speaks for itself really, if you’re only in it for the numbers or size of horn then you’re missing the point of being out there in the first place. Fred Bear was an American outdoorsman, bow hunter, bow manufacturer, author and television host. Robert Ruark wrote something similar in Use Enough Gun in 1966 - “Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking: That if you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on the animals terrain, if you imprison in your mind all of the wonder of the day from sky to smell to breeze to flowers – then you have not merely killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always recapture the day.” And later on in his publication Old Man’s Boy Grows Up, Ruark added “The best thing about hunting and fishing, the old man said, is that you don’t have to actually do it to enjoy it. You can go to bed every night thinking about how much fun you had twenty years ago, and it all comes back clear as moonlight.”

Fred Bear with a cape buffalo.

“One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted. If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset

Taking the life of an animal is such a hard topic to articulate and it appears that each subsequent generation continues to attempt to explain in their own words their decision to hunt. I am fascinated that hunters and outdoorsmen from generations ago were thinking about similar things as I do today. This message for the hunters of today is taken from a Spanish philosopher born in 1883. The book Meditations on Hunting was published 17 years after Jose Ortega y Gasset death in 1955. Outdoor writer John Madson also explained his decision on why he was a hunter - “I do not hunt for the joy of killing but for the joy of living, and the inexpressible pleasure of mingling my life however briefly, with that of a wild creature that I respect, admire and value.”


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