An Excerpt from “Art of Life”: Northern Kenya

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Dan Eldon Legacy

Northern Kenya Oct. 28, 1990 Frontier town

By: Dan Eldon

Everyone is armed, things are sharp.

O.k. I finally have a lot to say, but I don’t want to write the usual self-centered white man traveling in Africa story. I’m sick of films and books set in third-world places about Euros floating around and showing the scene through their eyes. But I am a white man cruising around Africa, so I’m going to give you the usual self-centered crap.

My first thought has nothing to do with anything but not many of my thoughts do right now. When you have been driving for twenty-four hours straight and have not looked into a mirror for weeks except for your own dusty reflection on the speedometer glass, you run out of things to think about. So you start to think about new things.

I like things made of canvas, metal, wood, and steel, like Deziree. I’m sick of plastic. I don’t want to start talking like some old man, but I like quality. The only good thing about living in the olden days before the 1950s was that things really were made nicely. But again, I’m not saying that I want to go back in time or anything because people used to be sadistic animals. Old people always get off on how these days young people are dangerous rapists, drug addicts, and gangsters, which is true, but think about all the stuff they got up to. Only for them, they had it organized by the government. I mean think about it. What’s worse? The gang situation in Los Angeles or in World War II?

I had a discussion with my grandmother about it. She tries to tell me that these days are uncivilized and dangerous, but I told her that back in her times, things were worse, like making black people sit in the back of the bus and using different toilets. Imagine? Now is the best time to live. Anyway, I was talking about quality. I got my hands on an FN self-loading assault rifle at one of the police checks today and fondled it extensively. I love things that click and slide into place and are well-oiled. The most seductive sound in the world is a well-greased rifle cocking into position.

I’ve only had guns pointed at me a few times but it always feels good – the ultimate test of “what do I say now.” The final examination for the manipulator. Manipulation. Negative word, yes? But I think it’s got a bad name, because many bad people are good at it. The concept itself is fine as long as the person uses it wisely. I don’t know if I’m much of a writer. Anyway, writing is old-fashioned. Films are better. How could you ever hope to catch the sights and sounds of a moment with paper and these primitive scribbles, left over from the Roman Empire. Just video the damned thing. Too much room for distortion in writing.

I’ve got the video hooked up to the car battery, go into villages, record the people there and then show them themselves in black and white moving around inside a tiny box. Reminds me of something I read about a European filmmaker who took a load of film of some guys in a remote part of Ethiopia and then came back the next year and showed them the film. Unfortunately, one of the characters in the film had died during the year and then they see him moving around in the white man’s box. Try explaining that.