Book Review : I Dreamed of Africa : Kuki Gallmann

Born near Venice, Italy Kuki grew up listening to her father’s bedtime tales of the Sahara. As a child Kuki dreamed of Africa, without ever thinking of it might come to true one day. With Paolo, her soon-to-be-husband, she explores the dingy Savannahs and rich wild of the land and felt being part of it.

Born near Venice, Italy Kuki grew up listening to her father’s bedtime tales of the Sahara. As a child Kuki dreamed of Africa, without ever thinking of it might come to true one day.

With Paolo, her soon-to-be-husband, she explores the dingy Savannahs and rich wild of the land and felt being part of it.

Kuki explores breaking all bounds and finally Africa yields to her invincible sprit for adventure. Her first glimpse of Africa surpasses even her dreams. In the early seventies, Kuki moved to Kenya with her husband, Paulo, and her son, Emanuele. They buy a rundown ranch named Ol Ari Nyiro.

The ranch consists of 90,000 acres of land overlooking the Great Rift Valley with herds of elephants and rhino, along with lions, warthogs, snakes, and other animals.

But, increasingly, Africa reveals its violent nature, and when Paolo’s life ends tragically, Kuki is left with her son Emaluele, an unborn child, and 90,000 acres of Africa. What follows are years of recovery and hope scarred only by the accidental death of Emanuele. Through her indomitable courage and unending love for Africa, Kuki Gallmann has not only forged a new life for herself but has also founded a living memorial to her husband and son.

Kuki's story is of many tragedies. Her husband dies in a car accident while Kuki is pregnant with his daughter. While collecting venom from a puff adder, Emanuele is fatally bitten. Several Kenyan employees that Kuki was close to also die. After her son's death Kuki manages to pull herself out of her grief to start the Gallmann Memorial Foundation which is dedicated to preserving wildlife and living harmoniously alongside it. Kuki has managed to use Ol Ari Nyiro as an example.

She has had no poaching on the ranch for several years. Animals from around Kenya seem to instinctively know that her ranch is a haven for them. Wounded animals find their way to her and her employees who take care of the animals' wounds and set them free. Even the snakes, which Kuki admits to loathing, are safe at Ol Ari Nyiro. The day after Emanuele died she had his snakes set free.

No matter how many times circumstances in Kuki's life have pulled her down she has been able to climb above them and continue on with her life. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes Kuki manages to create a new life out of her tragedies.

Kuki is weepy, sentimental, psychic, loving, and courageous. But after a point, I just had enough about superhuman characters who are divinely beautiful. Paolo was one - he was the one who foretold his own death, and when he was not out shooting elephants to death, he was 'taking care' of the vast ranch. Kuki's son Emmanuel - ah, like all mothers, Kuki idolizes him. His craze of snakes causes his death eventually - and Kuki spares no effort in ensuring that his memory is still alive in the reader.

The book tells you the wild beauty of Africa in the eyes of a foreigner who has dreams about Africa from abroad but gets the chance to experience firsthand when dreams become reality. 

Ends

ADVERTISEMENT