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Exploring Africa with Martin and Osa Johnson.


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#21 Game Warden

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 02:32 PM

I had pictured all Englishmen in Africa as wearing pith sun helmets and khaki shorts, but here in Nairobi they dressed exactly as they might have done in London, in good, well-cut, tailored woolens.

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Museum title: Street Scene, Location Unknown
Perhaps taken in Nairobi, Osa stands to the right and behind of the two men. Also note the juxtaposition of the oxen drawn cart and the new automobile to its right.

There were dilapidated wagons drawn by mules, ... lively bicyclists, slow pushcarts, and impatient auto mobiles - the latter often of American make.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


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#22 Game Warden

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 02:55 PM

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Museum title: Nairobi, Government House, 1921

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Museum title: Government House, Nairobi, 1921

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Museum title: Government House, Band, Nairobi
Three views taken from the rear of Government House. The soldiers in the band are likely to be The Kings African Rifles which are referenced in a later image.

After checking in at the Norfolk, the Johnsons paid their respects to the Governer, Sir Edward Northey, who introduced them to Sir Northrup McMillan of the legislative council. Two other early contacts that were to prove of infinite help were Blayney Percival, formerly of the Game Department, and a young American, Bud Cottar.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978

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Museum title: Osa Johnson and Blaney Percival with Masai Men
I find this a fascinating photograph: Percival had years of experience in Kenya before the Johnson's arrival and what stories he must have had to tell round the camp fire.

Blayney Percival, of course, occupies a niche all his own in my affectionate regard. Twenty years as game warden in British East Africa had made him an unquestioned authority on the animals of the country. He knew all the various species and their habits and haunts, and he was extremely generous with both his knowledge and his time. He had a brusqueness of manner that at first was a little disconcerting, but this wore off after a little and we saw that it grew out of a downright exasperation with the so-called big-game hunters who came, in increasing numbers, to fatten their egos with trophies, no matter how obtained, and whose lust to kill would in time become a menace to African wildlife.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

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Museum title: Bud Cottar, John Walsh and Osa, Isiolo, 1921
(John Walsh features later.)

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#23 Game Warden

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 08:04 AM

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Museum title: Nairobi, First Home

Realizing the necessity of a more permanent residence, the Johnsons rented a bungalow of their own.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978


While Martin busied himself with plans for our first safari, his father and I searched for living quarters and had the good luck to find a lovely eight-room bungalow just twenty minutes from town.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

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Museum title: Nairobi, Model T Truck

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Museum title: Nairobi, Uganda Rail Road, From Home

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Museum title: Drying Drum, Martin's Lab, Nairobi, 1921

While Kalowatt enjoyed the garden, they "camped out" in three rooms, devoting the rest of the house to laboratories and a darkroom to be used in later months by A. Radcliffe Dugmore and even Carl Akeley himself.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978



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Museum title: Martin's Lab

Martin... had surveyed the possibilities of our eight roomed bungalow and then had a clause added to the lease to the effect that certain drastic alterations could be made... We had brought with us from New York several fifty gallon developing tanks and drums on which to dry the film. When these were set up, together with several long narrow tables, and the windows of the darkroom made lightproof, we had as fine a laboratory as any to be found outside of New York or Hollywood.

Carl Akeley had written various people letting them know of Martin and his mission in this part of the world, with the result that our house - or, rather, the laboratory - became the gathering place for everyone in Nairobi interested in either photography or in the animals of British East Africa. Major A. Radclyffe Dugmore, the famous explorer and photographer, who made some of the best still pictures ever to have come out of Africa, developed hundreds of his photographs in Martin's laboratory.


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Museum title: Nairobi Coffee Plantation
(This is possibly Karen and Bror Blixen's farm.)

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Museum title: Nairobi, Coffee Drying on Plantation

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


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#24 Game Warden

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 08:39 AM

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Museum title: Porters at Tarlton, Whetham & Burman Safari Outfitters

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Museum title: Porters at Tarlton, Whetham & Burman Safari Outfitters

Through the agency of Tarleton, Whetman and Burman Ltd, the Johnsons obtained the services of Jerramani as headman. This was a great stroke of luck since Jerramani had accompanied the Roosevelt expedition Martin had tried so desperately to join twelve years before. For a household staff and safari porters they went to the Bureau of Native Affairs to obtain cook, number one and two house boys, seasoned gun bearers for both Martin and Osa and a host of porters.

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Museum title: Kenya, Jerrimani-Gun Bearer
(Note misspelled - should read Jerramani

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Museum title: Chobe Hills, Osa Johnson, Kalowatt and Gun Bearers with Camera
This I believe to be a shot with both Ferraragi (Left with tripod) and Jerramani (with camera).

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978


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#25 Game Warden

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 10:42 PM

The Johnson's first Safari equipped vehicles.

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Museum title: Nairobi, Osa Johnson & Daddy Johnson, First Car in Africa

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Museum title: Osa Wearing Gingham Jumper by Model T Truck

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Museum title: Ford Car on Safari, Kalowatt

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Museum title: Martin and Porter Fixing Tire on Model T Truck
A great shot showing all three vehicles together - if this vehicle in the foreground was the lorry capable of carrying as many as forty porters - it must have been a tight squeeze.

With Cottar's aid, they purchased one new safari Ford, a second hand Ford which they converted into a second safari car, and a lorry capable of carrying as many as forty porters.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978


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#26 Game Warden

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 11:57 PM

They were now equipped to set off on their first safari. Since they had passed so many animals on the Athi Plains on the train, that would seems as good a place as any for a trail run. With their three vehicles loaded with equipment and porters, they drove out on the plains and found a pleasant campsite on the Athi River. There they set up tents, unpacked cameras and guns and set off to photograph the very same game that had paid so little attention to the train as it passed.

But to men on foot or in cars, the game reacted quite differently. Shooting for the pot was a daily affair for many of Nairobi's two thousand white inhabitants, and the "indifferent" game the Johnsons had viewed from the train set off at a run at the mere sight of a safari car bouncing across the plains. Their reaction to man on foot was the same.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978

"Well I guess that's everything," Martin said anxiously eyeing our heavily loaded safari Fords. This was about a week after our long talk with Blayney Percival, and we were at last ready to leave for our first experimental trip to the Athi River. The cars stood in the driveway outside our bungalow and every inch of space was piled high.

I drove one car, Martin the other and with us we took the two headmen, Jerramani and Ferraragi; our cook, Mpishi; our room boy, Aloni; and our all round houseboy, Zabenelli. None of them trusted me as a driver and so they rode with martin. Father Johnson rode with me.

The roads out of Nairobi were of smooth, hard-packed clay. Within twenty minutes were were in the open plains, and not more than an hour from Nairobi we began to see gazelle, ostrich, and zebra.

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Museum title: Osa Johnson on Plain With Zebra Herd in Gingham Dress

"Why, all Martin will have to do, practically, is set up his camera and turn the crank. And as for meat for the porters, look at that bunch of antelope over there! We can just shut our eyes and shoot!" I bounced the car off the road and bounced it back on again. Everything rattled and shook.


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Museum title: Stream, Palms, Palmettos
Perhaps close to the scene of their camp?

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Museum title: Camera Set Up to Photograph Stream, Martin Johnson and Porter

In about four hours we came to the place that Blayney Percival had suggested for our camp. It might have been a lovely scene in a park, with the gnarled trunks of great mimosa trees framing the gently sloping banks and lively stream, and to the north a dark, jagged cliff for contrast.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


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#27 Bugs

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 06:29 AM

Can you imagine traveling in those vehicles?
Today the modern 4X4 with thick tyres and super traction, body lift and suspension its hard to imagine that those vehicles got around at all. It must have been easier to walk. You probably needed a team of people to push the vehicle around.

There's none so blind as those who will not see.


#28 Game Warden

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:01 PM

Images from the first safari.

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Museum title: Camp Scene, Osa with Employees, Ford, Tent
It is my assumption this is from the first safari as Osa's clothing matches closely that referenced in other images of this series, however I may be wrong. Also the tree trunk directly behind Osa appears the same as that which is behind the camp in the following image.

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Museum title: First Safari, Camp Scene

Jerramani and Ferraragi proceeded to order the setting up of our modest camp, and the air of disdain which accompanied this made clear that each was remembering the important men he had served and the impressive camps he had supervised - men of Theodore Roosevelt's calibre, Carl Akeley's.

After dinner we sat about the fire in front of our shelter. It was our first evening in the African open and I was fit to pop with excitement. I was even shivering a little.

All we could hear at first was the soft rush of the river close at hand and the plaintive cry of the night birds. It was a clear, moonless night. Then suddenly, on the opposite bank of the river, we heard a ghoulish, mirhtless laugh. From what Blayney Percival had told us, that would be a hyena. Then, as our ears became accustomed to the vibrant silence, we picked out the grunt of the wildebeest and the sneeze of the hartebeest, and then, difficult at first to identify, a low, steady rumble and a faint viabration in the earth.
"Antelope, I think," Martin said, "stampeding across the plain."

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

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Museum title: Athi Plains, Osa Johnson with Gun Bearer in Model T Truck

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Museum title: Athi Plains (Area Below Nairobi) , Eland

Blayney Percival advising Martin Johnson before setting out:

"... it's going to be up to you to provide meat for your headman and porters. They're forbidden by the government to carry guns, you know, with the exception of your picked gun-bearers, and if you can't provide meat, you'll have to hire a white man - professional hunter - for the job. Cost you more than all your porters put together."
"Well -" Martin hesitated. "How much?"
"Around a thousand dollars a month."

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

During the week the first safari lasted, they shot only two animals. Martin finally brought down an impala which he dragged on foot ten miles back to camp. To his dismay Jerramani and the other porters refused to eat it because it had not been properly hallaled: the local version of Mohammedanism rendered any animal whose throat had not been cut before death unfit to eat.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978

... we heard a blast from Martin's police whistle a short distance away. We raced to to where he was, on the far side of a clump of thornbush. At his feet lay a beautiful impala with long, curved horns. Martin was completely exhausted. For more than an hour he had dragged the hundred pound buck across the plains.
"I couldn't leave it," he said. "As it was, a pack of hyenas followed me most of the way."

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

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Museum title: Osa and her First Antelope. Athi Plains, 1921

I picked out the largest buck in the herd, took a long and careful aim, and fired. To my complete astonishment, he fell where he stood. The rest of the animals galloped away.
"Hey," cried Martin excitedly. "That was a piece of luck. I guess we're better when we don't take aim than when we do!"
"What do you mean?" I was indignant. "I took aim, and that's the one I picked!"
"All right Annie Oakley." Martin laughed. "If you can pick 'em off at four hundred yards, are troubles are over, and that's all right with me!"
"That's the one I aimed at, I tell you!"

I was so furious with him I couldn't speak, but when we stopped at the side of the sleek tawny animal, I forgot about being angry. The soft eyes of the lovely creature were wide open, and they seemed to look straight at me with reproach for taking his life. I turned away and burst into tears.
"I wish I hadn't killed him!" I sobbed in Martin's neck. "He's so harmless - and so beautiful!"

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940

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Museum title: Porters Carrying Meat, Athi Plains 1921

The second animal shot was a kongoni. This time it was properly hallaled and Jerramani and company accepted it but they were far from impressed.

Source - Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson by Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr - Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum press, 1978

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Museum title: Martin Johnson with Camera, Ready for Game

"We came to get pictures, and what do we have to show for it?" he demanded. "Nothing! I'm throwing away other people's money for - nothing!"

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Museum title: Athi Plains

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Museum title: Athi Plains Thomson Gazelle

"It's been the same story day after day," Martin said glumly.
"Everything we've done has been wrong. As a matter of fact, the whole trip here to the Athi River has been a total loss."
"If I remember rightly," Father Johnson said in his sometimes brittle, humorous fashion, "experience was what you came for, wasn't it?"
"I guess so," Martin replied vaguely. He wasn't listening.
"More failure than success in it, sure," Father Johnson went on. "Tha's what makes it valuable. Keeps you working. Makes you learn."
Martin was intent on a gloomy review of our failures.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


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#29 Game Warden

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:45 PM

Please note: images have been retro added to previous posts, as I discover more relevant photographs in the archive.

"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#30 Game Warden

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 10:37 AM

Posted Image

Museum title: Martin and Osa Johnson with John Walsh, Model T Auto

We met John Walsh in Nairobi at one of the native markets. His occupation was "killin' meat," and he was completely matter -of-fact about it. Weathered and hard as a knot of hickory, nevertheless his sandy hair was sprinkled with gray, and his back was quite bent. He was very sensitive about his age and tried to straighten his round shoulders whenever he caught us looking at him.

When he got to know us a little better, he confessed to sicty years, but he was probably well over seventy.
Martin eyed him with proper respect. A man of his age who could make a living that way must know his business.
Mr. Walsh concluded his dickering with the native market owner - grumbling out of habit, I'm sure - and, pushing whatever money he had collected into a greasy snap purse, was about to climb into his old Ford when Martin stopped him.
"I'd like to talk to you, Mr. Walsh." he said.
"Shoot," replied Mr. Walsh. "I ain't got much time."
He scratched his back impatiently through the rips in an amazingly clean blue shirt and squinted at us speculatively under the stiff brim of a tattered helmet. I think he had the narrowest, sharpest pair of eyes I'd ever looked into.
The upshot of this talk was that John Walsh put himself and his old Ford at our disposal, together with his place on a plateau near the edge of the Athi Plains some forty miles from town. His price was five dollars a day, we had to supply our own groceries and kill our own meat. He sketched a rough map which he shoved into Martin's hand, then put his Ford into a sort of standing jump and was off down the street in a cloud of blue stench that hung on the air long after he had gone from sight.

"Craziest hunter feller I ever seed." he confided to Father Johnson about Martin.

From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


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#31 Game Warden

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 04:37 PM

Images from the second safari.

Martin decided that night to experiment with building a camera blind near a waterhole about two miles from Mr. Walsh's. We went to work on it the next morning - Martin, his father, and I - and I thought we had done a very nice job, since there was nothing at all to distinguish the blind from the clumps of growing thornbrush in the vicinity.

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Museum title: Blind, By Waterhole

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Museum title: Wildebeest, Eland and Zebra at Waterhole

After a long wait, the animals began to come one by one - zebra, impala, kongoni, ostrich. For no reason that we could figure out, however, they didn't go down to the water but kept just out of camera range, milled about for around two hours, and went away.

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Museum title: Zebra at Waterhole

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Museum title: Striped Hyena

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Museum title: "Chobe" Hills Osa at Blind

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Museum title: Plain, Giraffe on the Horizon

Martin had much more patience than I, for after three days of this I had none left, and besides, my knees gave out. I simply couldn't crouch any longer. Father Johnson went with him the next afternoon and I remained home. Mr. Walsh had washed his hands of us by this time. We could stay at his place as long as we liked, he said - five dollars a day, payable every morning before breakfast - if we kept our ape away from his chickens.

Referring to Kalowatt who up until this time had been chasing the skinny birds around the scrub and pulling their tail feathers out.

Posted Image

Museum title: Impala, Zebra, Oryx at Waterhole


From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#32 Game Warden

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 12:21 AM

"Any luck in the blind this evening?" I ventured to ask after a while.
"Warthogs!" Martin replied disgustedly.
I thought the pictures of warthogs were extremely interesting. We were back at our home in Nairobi.


Posted Image

Museum title: Warthog in grass.

Martin had developed and printed them and was projecting them along with some other odds and ends of things he'd photographed at the Athi River.
"Why that's simply wonderful photography Martin" I said. "Just look at how the cross lighting hits the bumps on these hogs."
"Yes," Martin growled, "and just look at three months in Africa with nothing but warthogs to show for it - look how that hits our pocketbook!"

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Museum title: Warthog at waterhole.

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Museum title: Warthog.

"Warthogs." he muttered to himself.
Blayney Percival saw the warthog picture a few days later and thought it fine.

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Museum title: Warthog in water.

"You're getting on to the peculiarities of the atmosphere now, old man," he said to Martin, "Another short trip or two and you'll be ready for anything."
"We were thinking we'd like to get into big - animal country this next trip." Martin said.

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Museum title: Warthog in waterhole.

Blayney Percival nodded and spread a map on the table.
"Here's the place I suggest."


From - I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson 1940


"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#33 shatzi

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 03:02 AM

I was at the museum in 1998 or 99, can't remember, but it was a pretty nice place to visit. The staff certainly was enthusiastic!

#34 Atravelynn

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 06:13 PM

Welcome to safartalk, Shatzi! Finding this site was a good way to start 2009.
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#35 Game Warden

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:31 PM

Posted Image

Museum title: Zebra wildebeest at waterhole.

They were not the first to photograph African wildlife by any means. Carl Akeley had already become deeply involved in such a project as had A. Racliffe Dugmore, and there were others as well. But the Johnson’s timing coud not have been better; they were in the midst of the Golden Age of photographic exploration, one which would send Admiral Richard Byrd to both poles, William Beebe far into the briny ocean depths, the Piccards high aloft in their balloon, and Roy Chapman Andrews to the Gobi Desert and its dinosaur eggs.

Posted Image

Museum title: Zebra at waterhole.

They were not the first to photograph African wildlife by any means. Carl Akeley had already become deeply involved in such a project as had A. Racliffe Dugmore, and there were others as well. But the Johnson’s timing coud not have been better; they were in the midst of the Golden Age of photographic exploration, one which would send Admiral Richard Byrd to both poles, William Beebe far into the briny ocean depths, the Piccards high aloft in their balloon, and Roy Chapman Andrews to the Gobi Desert and its dinosaur eggs.

Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr, Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson, 1978


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#36 Game Warden

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:22 AM

Posted Image

Museum title: Three Elephants on a Hill

Posted Image

Museum title: Osa Johnson with gun tracking elephants

On the Johnson’s first trip, they, as did almost everyone else, thought of hunting as high sport and shot many an animal. Their attitude was to change markedly in years to come. As more sophisticated camera equipment allowed them to film from greater distances, there were fewer “charges”, and both Martin and Osa became reluctant to shoot anything except “for the pot” or to bring down an animal that was definitely not bluffing.

Kenhelm W. Stott, Jr, Exploring with Martin and Osa Johnson, 1978


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Museum title: Martin with Elephant that Fell Next to Camera

I have developed seven thousand feet of the 27,000 I have exposed on the trip — it is great stuff, the picture of the elephant charge is the best of the bunch. Osa turned the crank until nothing but the elephant's tusks showed in the aperture. He must have been eight feet from the camera when she stopped turning. I remember now that she had to sight almost straight up when she shot and saved my life as well as her own. I know I would have deserted the camera before she did and I would have run like hell.

Martin Johnson, Safari; A Saga of An African Adventure, 1928


"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#37 Game Warden

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 08:36 PM

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Museum title: Osa Johnson Wearing Gingham Jumper, 8' Elephant Tusks

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Museum title: Thika Post, Wagons 1921

“We left Nairobi for the Ithanga hills in about a week, just before the “short rains”. In addition to Martin, his father, and me, and our personal servants, we added a dozen porters who within a few months were to be the nucleus of a safari company of a hundred and ten men. It took us only a few hours in our safari Fords to reach Thika, a small settlement at the foot of the hills. Here we were joined by two ox wagon sent on, the night before, with our camp equipment and chop boxes. These wagons were clumsy, springless affairs and might have been patterned after the covered wagons of our own pioneer West.”


Osa Johnson, I Married Adventure, 1940


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#38 Game Warden

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 06:07 PM

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Museum title: Porters, Gun Bearer, 1921

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Museum title: Chobe Hills, Porters on Safari, 1921

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Museum title: Chobe Hills, Natives at Soda Spring

"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#39 Game Warden

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 06:14 PM

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Museum title: Moran at Waterhole

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Museum title: Ithanga Hills, Martin, Osa and Men Photographing Elephant, 1921

It is only a question of time until the Africa elephant will have gone to join the other extinct mammoths in some Pleistocene heaven. Civilization has already crowded him out of South Africa. It is busy pushing him into remote corners in East Africa. Every new sisal plantation is a strike in the elephant’s knell. For as soon as you have settlers and farms, the elephant, with the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus, must be banished. The mammoths belong to an age when man had not yet become chief of the animals.”

Martin Johnson, Camera Trails in Africa, 1924


"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

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#40 kulkulbelle

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:46 AM

This is absolutely fascinating, I can tell you I WILL make a pilgrimage to the museum when I am next Stateside.

Some of it is quite surreal :o

This deserves a full-length feature film.

Thank you for this thread Game Warden - awesome. :D
"Toitu he kainga; whatungarongaro he tangata" - People are transient things but the land endures - New Zealand Maori proverb





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