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Jan van Eden

bio - biography

Stories of our life in the foreign


1970  Travels from Zambia


1970 A journey in Morris Mini from Zambia to Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.


Intensive periods of hard work were compensated with generous local holidays and we made month long trips with our Morris Mini 850. Colleagues said we we were crazy to go with a small car like that, advising a Landrover or a Peugeot for the mainly unpaved roads, but never mind. During the lifetime of our Mini with lost the motor block 3 times in the middle of nowhere. The motor was mounted on 4 brackets and when they broke because of excessive vibrations on the corrugated gravel roads, the block fell down on the chassis, making a hell of a noise with the radiator fan. With some branches you would jack it up and then proceed step foots to the nearest village to find a mechanic with welding equipment., I must say the mechanics in those desolate parts of the world were very handy and helpful. After repair of the brackets you were ready to go.


SS Liemba, Lake Tanganyika, 1970










In the year 1970 we made a round trip to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. We started from Kalulushi to Mpulungu (northeastern Zambia on the shores of Lake Tanganyika), where we took a steamer to Bujumbura (Burundi) which was a journey of 5 days over a distance of some 800 km with several stops at villages along the Tanzanian coast. This coal fired steamer the S.S.Liemba (the name of Lake Tanganyika in the language of the tribes around Kigoma) was built in 1913 and had an interesting history. When we bought our tickets, I innocently asked for third class, but they they refused and gave us one of two VIP cabins on the upper deck, the middle deck was reserved for Indian and other colored races, while the blacks were at the very bottom. In the bottom there were long wooden benches, without backrest and it was crowded with people, luggage, cooking gear, food for the trip, and even live chickens. People were coming and going at villages where the boat made a stop, and swarms of small boats were along side to take the passengers or sell fish, vegetables, bananas and other food products. In the meanwhile we had the upper deck for ourselves together the crew, and our Morris Mini was parked there as well. We were having our meals with the English captain and the mates. Perfectly set tables with silver cutlery, starched napkins and a superb traditional menu. The English captain regularly left a loud burst followed by “pardon me”. All this in a colonial setting, while Tanzania was an independent socialist country from december 1961. We had a luxury cabin, but made a mistake by using an insectspray on a couple of cockroaches inside an open construction tube, causing a relentless stream of these animals to invade our cabin. Never mind it was a very relaxing and pleasant trip to Bujumbura in Burundi.





Pepa en el SS Liemba, 1970


























Boats providing food for black passengers on the lowest deck.












Burundi, at the Catholic mission of my friend from Puente Montanana (Huesca)









From there on we headed north in our Morris Mini. The first stop we made for a couple of days was a catholic mission where a friend of mine was one of the two missionaries. It was quite emotional to meet a friend in the heart of Africa and it felt like a redemption from the overwhelming emptiness that surrounds you. The next morning we were welcomed by a large dancing crowd on the rolls of drums, adorned with shields and spears, which we underwent as an impressive tribute. As a white person you are a curiosity in this far out african country side and Pepa attracted much attention from the women and the children in particular. After two days we carried on through Burundi in the direccion of Rwanda, travelling through densely populated agricultural areas with lush fields of bananas, cassava, cotton and other subsistance crops. Rwanda is small and from north to south you cross the country by car in a few hours.



Pepa in her Morrus Mini - Rwanda 1970











Then circling the Victoria Lake we were heading for Kampala the capital of Uganda. When we entered the country in 1970 it was still under the government of Milton Obote the first president after the British left in 1962. Kampala was a bustling city with a strange overwhelming presence of asians. All taxis, shops and other business seemed to be owned and run by asians. A disturbing left over from the British colonial days and and nobody should be surprised with the coming of somebody like Idi Amin who started with violent persecution of these people.



Jan at the Nakuru Lake













FRose Flamengos at the Nakuru Lake











After Uganda we headed for Nairobi on relatively good roads, passing by the Nakuru lake with its beautiful pink flamingo population. Nairobi a modern city and then southwards to Arusha and the Serengetti wildlife park in Tanzania. In the Ngorongoro crater we needed to take a guide with a landrover. With large herds of rhinoceros, buffalos, wildebeests, zebras, elephants and predators like lions and hyena, the nicest wildpark I have known.




Pepa with a young Masai shepherd - Tanzania 1970









From here on we were going south through Tanzania's vast savanna plains with the occasional massive Boabab tree, direccion Zambia. Along the road we met with traditional Masai men herding their cattle. From a young Masai boy we bought a dishlike plate on three legs carved out from a single piece of wood, made to eat from in the field. It is still used by us in our house of Sabayes, but we use it as a small stool (taburete pequeño). With an additional 4.522 miles (7.277 km) on the clock of our Morris Mini (and don't forget the 800 km on the SS Liemba) we returned safely home in Kalulushi



Continuation of the story: 1972 Republic of South Africa



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