Saturday, January 14, 2012

December 2, 1926 "Review: Will Search for "Death Tree" in Heart of Africa"

North Vancouver Museum and Archives has, what one could call, bizarre headlines from the newspapers of old, probably not as bizarre as to what bloggers use today.  This item is 85 years old, and perhaps the source of the story died with one man's quest in Africa.  Most of the stories in the Review, like most small town newspapers in British Columbia, from the early 1900's, came from anywhere BUT our Province.

A man who is searching for what is termed the "Death Tree" arrived in South Africa this week.  He is Alex Clive, and he intends to penetrate into the heart of Africa to seek for the tree which means death to those who dare to sleep beneath.  The death tree, Clive declares, grows somewhere in the heart of Africa.  It gives off a very powerful perfume which probably means death to an unwary person in its vicinity, for if anyone rests beneath it he is overcome by the scent and falls asleep never to wake.

This tree, Clive believes, contains some powerful drug which might possibly  mean a great deal to science and humanity, but the death tree is not the only reason for the expedition, as he is also keenly interested in entomology, geology, and botany, and intends to collect specimens for exhibition in London, which, he hopes, with luck, to reach in about eighteen months, and will place his specimens before the board of scientific research.

He states that he is proceeding to Bloemfontein and Durban from Cape Town, and thence to Loureneo Marquis, Beira, Mombasa, Nairobi and on to the Victoria Falls and Nyanza where he will cross the lake to Kampala.  At Kampala his quest for the death tree begins in earnest, as he will have to strike inland on foot.
1 Cape Town  -33.932147° 18.423132°
2 Bloemfontein  -29.118349° 26.224920°
3 Durban  -29.857876° 31.027581°
4 Lourenco Marquis aka Maputo    -25.968945° 32.569551°
5 Beira  -19.833333° 34.850000°
6 Mombasa -4.043477° 39.668206°
7 Nairobi  -1.292066° 36.821946°
8 Victoria Falls  -17.933333° 25.833333°   nearby is (Dr.) Livingstone
9 Nyanza     -2.349610° 29.751290°

10 Kampala  0.307127° 32.580300°

Personally I would have skipped Victoria Falls altogether, if not, then I would have headed for the Falls from Lourenco Marquis aka Maputo.  However, its after Kampala that Clive says he has to strike inland "on foot" so perhaps all of this traipsing around before the serious stuff begins, has been by ship and plane.  Maybe what Clive was up to was that he wanted to see where THE good Scottish Doctor Livingstone, I presume, was lodged, its only nine kilometers away from Victoria Falls to Livingstone's abode and it had been 55 years ago compared to 1926.  Whereas compared to today, its been 141 years.  Who's up for a special Anniversary for the celebrated Doctor and Explorer in nine years time?

Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 27 October 1871, greeting him with the now famous words "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" to which he responded "Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you."

As to the Death Tree, the Acacia  perhaps.

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