I Dreamed of Africa
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I Dreamed of Africa is a 2000 American biographical drama film directed by Hugh Hudson, starring Kim Basinger in her first picture since she co-starred in L.A. Confidential in 1997. It also stars Vincent Perez, Eva Marie Saint, Garrett Strommen, Liam Aiken and Daniel Craig. It is based on the autobiographical novel I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallmann, an Italian writer who moved to Kenya and became involved in conservation work. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.This film was both a commercial and critical failure.
I DREAMED OF AFRICA (2000 – Movie Info)
“I Dreamed of Africa” is inspired by the true story of the indomitable Kuki Gallmann, a beautiful, inquisitive woman who had the courage to escape from her comfortable yet monotonous life in Italy to start anew in the wilds of Africa with her son Emanuele and her husband Paolo. Though first in awe of the incredible power of nature and sense of freedom in the wide-open Kenyan countryside, Kuki soon discovers that life in rural Africa is not a fairy- tale existence. Wild elephants and lions roam the land unhindered, devastating storms destroy all in their path and desperate poachers ruthlessly murder endangered animals. Yet through the most trying of setbacks, Kuki emerges as resilient, filled with the strength of desire to take on life lovingly and fearlessly.
“I Dreamed of Africa“
Roger Ebert May 05, 2000
[Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.]
It’s strange to see “I Dreamed of Africa” at a time when the papers are filled with stories of white farmers being murdered in Zimbabwe. Here is the story of an Italian couple who move to the highlands of Kenya in 1972, buy a ranch near the Great Rift Valley and lead lives in which the Africans drift about in the background, vaguely, like unpaid extras. Is it really as simple as that? The realities of contemporary Africa are simply not dealt with.
A shame, since Kuki Gallmann is a real woman and still lives on Ol Ari Nyiro, a 100,000-acre ranch in Kenya that she has made into a showcase farm and wildlife conservancy. I know this because of her Web page (www.gallmannkenya.org); the movie never makes it very clear how the Gallmanns support themselves–it’s not by working, apparently. Her husband Paolo is away for days at a time, hunting and fishing with his friends, and Kuki doesn’t seem deeply engaged with the land, either (her attempt to create a dirt dam begins when she inadvertently pulls down a barn and ends with the tractor stuck in the mud).
The real Kuki Gallmann must have arrived at an accommodation with Africa and Africans, and with the Kenyan government. The Kuki in the movie has a few brief conversations in Swahili with her farm foreman and laborers, but devotes most of her attention to the landscape, which is indeed breathtaking (the film was shot on her ranch and in South African game preserves). The only social commentary we get, repeated three times, is, “Things have a different rhythm here.” Kuki is played by Kim Basinger, who is ready to do more than the screenplay allows. She is convincing throughout, especially in a scene where trouble strikes her son Emanuele (Garrett Strommen)–her panic is real, but so is her competence as she tries to deal with the emergency. Her frustration with Paolo (Vincent Perez), is also real but mundane (frustrated at his extended hunting trips and general irresponsibility, she throws a handful of pasta at him).
Her life is interrupted from time to time by visits from her mother (Eva Marie Saint), who begs her to return to Italy, but, no, she belongs to the land, learns from experience, and tries to bring good out of the tragedies in her life by becoming a conservationist and a leader in the fight against poaching.
All admirable. But Hugh Hudson’s film plays curiously like a friendly documentary of Kuki’s life, especially with the voice-over narration that sounds like it belongs in an idealistic travelogue. There is a lack of drama and telling detail. When events happen, they seem more like set pieces than part of the flow. Consider the big storm that blows up, toppling the windmill and blowing the thatch from the ranch house roof. It strikes, it is loud and fierce, and then it is over, and after one more shot, it is forgotten. An entry in a diary, growing from nothing, leading to nothing, but occupying screen time. As is the scene where Kuki, Paolo and her mother drive a Range Rover down a rough road, and it gets stuck in the mud (that happens to her a lot). What to do? They get out and walk home. The film doesn’t even show them arriving there.
Watching “I Dreamed of Africa,” I was reminded that one often meets people who have led fascinating lives, but only rarely people who can tell fascinating stories. The events don’t make the story; the storytelling does. Russell Baker or Frank McCourt can make human sagas out of everyday memories. Generals who have led thousands into battle can write memoirs of stultifying dullness. Kuki Gallmann has led a fascinating life, yes, but either she’s not remembering the whole truth or she should have made up more. The film doesn’t sing with urgency and excitement, and we attend it in the same way we listen politely to the stories of a hostess who must have really been something, in her day.
Who shot Kuki Gallmann? The Story of a Kenyan Conservationist Heroine
Since she moved to Kenya, she has lost her husband and son. Now she has been shot by tribesmen determined to take her land. But Kuki Gallmann’s going nowhere.
There is thunder and the equatorial rain falls perfectly straight, drenching the lawn and a pair of towering candelabra trees that frame the driveway which leads to a two-storey, colonial-era house. Inside, logs burn in the grey stone fireplace, worn kilims are spread on the parquet floor and Kuki Gallmann – 74 years old and recovering from two bullet wounds in her abdomen – sits regally upon a chair of wrought iron and stained glass shaped like a resting bird.
After she was shot on a Sunday morning in April, Gallmann, a celebrated conservationist and author, spent a fortnight in hospital before being discharged to convalesce in her house in Nairobi. Every surface in the large living room is covered with picture frames, pretty paperweights, dainty pottery bowls, delicate baskets, gilt candlesticks, tiny cairns of semi-precious stones and stacks of books. But Gallmann is not yet truly home.
She longs for Ol Ari Nyiro, “The Place of Dark Springs”, an 88,000-acre nature reserve in Kenya’s central highlands overlooking the Great Rift Valley, where her husband and son are buried and which has become, in recent months, the epicentre of a violent struggle pitting private landowners against semi-nomadic herders. Gallmann’s shooting dragged these tensions into the light and while her wounds were grievous, she is unbowed.
“As soon as I’m allowed I will go back,” she says. Her doctors tell her that she is not yet strong enough and security officers advise her it is not yet safe, but “in my heart, I’m there,” she says.
Gallmann dismisses talk of banditry (the government’s preferred term for the attacks) and of desperate drought-stricken pastoralists seeking pasture (another common framing of the issue). “The people who attacked me, they were militia,” she says firmly. “Prior to every election I’ve seen there has been a similar build-up of violence.” But she has never been shot before.
Kenya’s Laikipia plateau is bordered by Mount Kenya’s jagged 17,000ft peaks to the east and the Rift Valley’s plunging slopes to the west. In between are undulating savannah, forests, winding rivers, waterfalls, rocky hills and steep-shouldered escarpments. The land is home to elephants and rhinos, giraffes, zebras and antelopes, wild dogs, bat-eared foxes and lions.
It was here that white, often British, settlers came to farm wheat and raise cattle during the first half of the 20th century, before independence. Gallmann was a latecomer, arriving in 1972 with her husband Paolo, her young son Emanuele, a pile of luggage shipped from Venice and a ready-made, romantic nostalgia for a place she had never been. Italian-born and aristocratic, Gallmann swiftly fitted into the privileged lifestyle of the wealthy expatriates she found here, but she and Paolo were on the hunt for land.
In Ol Ari Nyiro, on the western edge of Laikipia, they found their imagined Africa. In her best-selling memoir, I Dreamed of Africa, Gallmann describes, “The uncanny feeling of déjà vu… as if I had already been there.” From the extravagantly folded ridges of the ranch’s highlands, “Africa was there below us in all its unsolved mystery.”
“I totally and utterly fell in love with Ol Ari Nyiro and I felt – and it’s irrational and difficult to explain – that I had come home and there was a reason for me to be there,” she tells me, her English still heavily accented and melodic even after all the years away from Italy. When her husband died in a car crash in 1980 while she was pregnant with their daughter Sveva, she stayed. Three years later, when her son, then 17, was bitten by a puff adder and died, she stayed.
A pair of yellow-barked fever trees mark their graves outside her Laikipia home and she plans to be buried alongside them when she dies. “I am a bit of a veteran at overcoming tragedies and challenges,” she says with a smile that stops short of her pale blue eyes. “Losing someone you love is a test of endurance.”
It was between those trees that Gallmann lay bleeding on the morning of 23 April as she waited for a rescue helicopter to whisk her to hospital in Nairobi, nearly a six-hour drive away. Usually, Gallmann wakes at dawn, walks into her south-facing garden and sits at a wooden table to feed the birds, of which there are hundreds of species. The first to arrive are the superb starlings – iridescent blue, beautiful and common as muck – followed by bright yellow weaver birds, master builders whose nests resemble miniature Andy Goldsworthy sculptures.
But that morning Gallmann was in a rush: she wanted to inspect the smouldering ruins of Mukutan Retreat, her luxury tourist lodge, which had been set ablaze the day before. She drove there, accompanied by armed Kenya Wildlife Service rangers and one of her scouts, to find the stone walls of the cottages blackened, the cedar floors turned to char and the thatched roofs gone. Ash hung in the air like snowflakes. Decades of poaching, illegal logging, encroachment and occasional violence had taught her caution so the visit was brief and, as she always did, Gallmann left by a different dirt track to the one she had driven in on.
Reaching the higher plains she found a felled tree blocking the route. The rangers had finished moving the trunk when her scout called out: “Mama! Mama! Iko watu tatu!” There are three people, in Swahili. Before she could turn to look the first shot hit Gallmann “like a punch in the lower abdomen” as she sat in the driver’s seat of her open-backed Land Cruiser. She fell sideways and felt another bullet tear through her guts. Three more shots hit the side of the car before returning fire from the rangers chased the ambushers away.
They lifted Gallmann into the back of a 4×4 and drove her home. On the way she called the local police station to report the incident, and a neighbour to ask for a helicopter. Bumping and bleeding up the track, the pain coming in excruciating waves, Gallmann stubbornly willed herself away from death.
“I did not think that I was going to die because I won’t allow myself to die,” she says. Nevertheless, she told the rangers to lay her on the grass between the fever trees to wait. “It was a clear day with birds. It was a good place to be,” she says.
The helicopter landed and took Gallmann to the regional capital, Nanyuki, where British army medics at the large training base gave her a blood transfusion and staunched the bleeding. Then she was flown on to Nairobi for surgery. After that, “I don’t remember anything for two days. Two days lost,” she says.
The shooting was “only the culmination of years of threat, vandalism, attack,” says Gallmann. Her left hand is crippled from being hit by a rock in 2009 and last Christmas Day bullets were fired over her Laikipia home.
Nobody has been arrested, but Gallmann has no doubts about the motivation for the attack. “They want the land, and the way of the raiders is to burn the homesteads to take the property,” she says. “They” are Pokot pastoralists who have invaded private ranches and conservancies along Laikipia’s western fringe, bringing with them tens of thousands of livestock, poaching wildlife, stealing cattle and intimidating landowners and workers. Similar, though mostly less violent, incursions have been launched by Samburu pastoralists from the north and east.
Some ranches have closed and some owners are considering selling, but others, among them Gallmann, are hunkering down. “They are going to get tired of it. I know I will outlast them. There is no doubt in my mind.”
Yet Kenya is transforming at breakneck speed. The population has more than tripled, to around 45 million, in the years since she arrived. Villages have become towns, and towns have become cities. Wilderness has shrunk, wildlife has declined, livestock has increased and grassland has been grazed into dust while a changing global climate has made droughts deeper and more frequent. These chronic, underlying factors are spurred into violence by politics.
The increasing pace and aggression of the Laikipia invasions comes ahead of an election in August which, like all others since Kenya’s first competitive vote in 1992, is characterised by a violent jockeying for position ahead of the polls. Nearly a decade ago more than 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes when a stolen election was violently disputed, but that year was remarkable only for the scale of the killings and for the fact they came after, not before, the vote.
The rupture led to a constitutional referendum to replace Kenya’s tightly centralised government with devolved power. But with it has come devolution of corruption – national conflagration has been replaced by dozens of smaller, local ones, none more violent or dangerous than in Laikipia.
The unprecedented effect has been sometimes deadly insecurity in Laikipia, the destruction of the region’s tourist economy and the threatening of wildlife populations’ already tenuous existence. Estimates of those killed or injured run into the scores, the vast majority of the victims are smallholder farmers with just a few rain-fed acres of maize and a handful of goats, whose livelihoods are wiped out – and sometimes their lives, too – in a single night raid by armed pastoralists.
In the weeks running up to Gallmann’s shooting, the violence in Laikipia had intensified as a belated government security response made matters worse. Soldiers were accused of shooting at pastoralist herds then retreating, leaving landowners to face revenge attacks. Thomas Minito, a local Pokot politician from Baringo county to the west, was charged with incitement in late March over the arson attacks on Gallmann’s property.
Minito denied the charges, but was never put on trial because in May he was found dead, his battered corpse floating in a river hundreds of miles from where he had last been seen, in the company of men claiming to be police officers. His murder remains unsolved. Another local political leader, Mathew Lempurkel, a Samburu and the MP for Laikipia North, was charged with incitement over the March killing of ranch owner Tristan Voorspuy, a former British officer. He denies the charges.
Amos Olempaka, a human rights activist, aspiring politician and member of the Ilchamus pastoralist tribe, who traditionally fish the fresh waters of Lake Baringo in the Rift Valley, says raids by armed Pokot have been going on for more than a decade, but have changed in nature and worsened recently. “It has shifted from local cattle-rustling to a well-planned and executed mission,” he says, blaming Pokot politicians for driving the violence. “This thing is like a cartel, because it has taken a commercial shape, and they are using it as a form of territorial expansion.”
The tensions of modern Kenya are writ small in the clash between Gallmann and her assailants – the wealthy white landowner and outsider, committed to protecting the environment and its wildlife, versus impoverished local men whose traditional livelihoods have been disrupted by powers beyond their control and who are illegally armed and politically incited.
The Laikipia situation is just the most recent expression of a toxic brew of politics, ethnicity and land that lies at the heart of Kenya’s most intractable problems, yet despite the dangers and the challenges, Gallmann still believes coexistence is not just possible, but necessary. “Since many, many years my aim is to try to prove that people and environment can survive together, you have to have a balance,” she says.
“The people have increased, the cattle have increased and the weather has changed. But I am an optimist in the capacity of the environment, if given a chance, to rejuvenate itself, and restore itself. We have to sit back and let it be.”
Rise in plunder of Earth’s natural resources
July 23rd, 2016, by Alex Kirby
A new UN report warns that the threefold increase in extraction of the Earth’s primary materials will intensify climate change, increase air pollution and reduce biodiversity.
LONDON, 22 July 2016 – Humans’ appetite for gnawing away at the fabric of the Earth itself is growing prodigiously. According to a new UN report, the amount of the planet’s natural resources extracted for human use has tripled in 40 years.
A report produced by the International Resource Panel (IRP), part of the UN Environment Programme, says rising consumption driven by a growing middle class has seen resources extraction increase from 22 billion tonnes in 1970 to 70 billon tonnes in 2010.
It refers to natural resources as primary materials, and includes under this heading biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals.
The increase in their use, the report warns, will ultimately deplete the availability of natural resources − causing serious shortages of critical materials and risking conflict.
Growing primary material consumption will affect climate change mainly because of the large amounts of energy involved in extraction, use, transport and disposal.
“The alarming rate at which materials are now being extracted is already having a severe impact on human health and people’s quality of life,” says the IRP’s co-chair, Alicia Bárcena Ibarra.
“We urgently need to address this problem before we have irreversibly depleted the resources that power our economies and lift people out of poverty. This deeply complex problem, one of humanity’s biggest tests yet, calls for a rethink of the governance of natural resource extraction.”
The IRP says the information contained in the new report supports the monitoring of the progress countries are making towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also shows the uneven way in which the materials exploited are shared.
The richest countries consume on average 10 times as much of the available resources as the poorest, and twice as much as the world average.
“This deeply complex problem, one of humanity’s biggest tests yet, calls for a rethink of
the governance of natural resource extraction”
This total − almost three times today’s amount − will probably increase the acidification of the world’s waters, the eutrophication of its soils and waters, worsen soil erosion, and lead to greater amounts of waste and pollution.
The report also ranks countries by the size of their per capita material footprints – the amount of material required in a country, an indicator that sheds light on its true impact on the global natural resource base. It is also a good way to judge a country’s material standard of living.
Europe and North America, which had annual per capita material footprints of 20 and 25 tonnes in 2010, are at the top of the table. China’s footprint was 14 tonnes and Brazil’s 13. The annual per-capita material footprint for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia was 9-10 tonnes, and Africa’s was below 3 tonnes.
Global material use has rapidly accelerated since 2000, the report says, as emerging economies such as China undergo industrial and urban transformation that requires unprecedented amounts of iron, steel, cement, energy and building materials.
Compounding the problems, there has been little improvement in global material efficiency since 1990. The global economy now needs more material per unit of GDP than it did at the turn of the century, the IRP says, because production has moved from material-efficient economies such as Japan, South Korea and Europe to far less materially-efficient countries such as China, India and some in south-east Asia.
The report says uncoupling the increasing material use from economic growth is the “imperative of modern environmental policy and essential for the prosperity of human society and a healthy natural environment”.
This will require investment in research and development, combined with better public policy and financing, creating opportunities for sustained economic growth and job creation.
The IRP also recommends putting a price on primary materials at extraction to reflect the social and environmental costs of resource extraction and use, while reducing consumption. The extra funds generated, it says, could then be invested in R&D in resource-intensive sectors of the economy.
It is concerned that the expanding demand for materials that low-income countries are likely to experience could contribute to local conflicts such as those seen in areas where mining competes with agriculture and urban development. – Climate News Network
A note from this author:
This blog is based on a TRUE STORY.
It is in no way is going to be a blame game pointing at any particular person or people – but the incontrovertible truth in this entire monologue points to one single undeniable fact – Human beings are their own worst enemies.
Why speak of only Kuki Gallmann and her life story? Each one of us is to blame for what we are collectively undergoing currently – whether it is the Corona Virus Pandemic or anything else. It is the Wrath of Mother Nature that we are all experiencing, one way or another – her land has been repeatedly raped, plundered and defiled over the centuries and we thought that there would be no consequences? How can that be possible? Mother Nature will ALWAYS have the last laugh. we should never have messed with Nature: it was never ours for the taking in the first place. We should all understand this fact very clearly – there should be no room for doubt anywhere.
As far as Kuki Gallmann is concerned, allow me to share what I consider to be my interpretation of the events that conspired in Africa. Ms. Gallmann is undoubtedly very brave and has stood steadfast despite all the varied challenges, innumerable difficulties and personal tragedies that Mother Earth has thrown her way. As a woman she has stood up all alone, in a male-dominated country, for what she strongly believes to be right and has put into active practice what she preaches. Kuki Gallmann was never in favour of hunting or poaching. I strongly feel – whether by her own husband, his friends or by any other individuals – she has led an exceedingly difficult; largely unhappy and lonely life in the bleak hostility of the wide-open, wild and dangerous expanses of Africa’s land; she has been stalked by lions and she has lived to tell the tale. That fact, in itself, should speak volumes of the grit and undying strength of Ms. Gallmann – truly an indomitable woman, to be commended for her courage, if nothing else.
I think that Ms. Gallmann always saw in her mind’s eye that she would have to pay a heavy price for taking from the land that is no one’s to take in the first place. When the blow came – as it inevitable would come – she wept but accepted her fate gracefully. This is just my point of view, as I stated earlier.
At the end of the movie, she says (as per the film script) after the unprecedented and heart-breaking death of her young son, barely 17 years old, on the threshold of adulthood:
“Only yesterday morning…
…we were laughing together.
“Today, I am here with your friends
to bury you.
“To bury a husband was hard.
“To bury my son is against nature…
“…and a pain which words cannot tell.
“You died knowing you were dying,
but you were not afraid.
“You were but wise beyond your age…
“…and now you know the answer
to all questions.
“I will look for you.
“I will look for you always.
“I will see you in every flower…
“…in every bird…
“…in every sunset…
“…in every crawling snake.
“Everything of beauty
will forever be you, Emanuele.
“Anything young and proud.
“Anything good and strong.
“For us who are left…
“…remains to wonder
at the reason for such waste.
“Where has all this love gone?
“I hope your journey has been good…
“…because you have already arrived.
“Fly for me, bird of the sun.
“I love you so.”
“Goodbye. I love you.
I love you.
May I come back soon?
I wish you would.
Finally, all we can do
is to let the days instruct us…
… and know that the only gift worth having
is the grace to go on with the job…
… to be done, the people to love…
… and knowing what we love
we can never lose.
There is no holding on in this world.
We came to this extraordinary place…
… and Africa let us lead extraordinary lives.
Then Africa claimed an extraordinary price.
That was Africa’s privilege.
And now it is my privilege to look after Africa herself. ��W��”