News Archives 2009 – 2010

OCTOBER 2010

Elephants were frequent visitors to our tented camp in Samburu National Park

Elephants were frequent visitors to our tented camp in Samburu National Park

At the end of the game count I flew from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg then on to Nairobi where I exchanged a tent mounted on a 4×4 for a luxurious lodge and ‘5-star tent’ in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Again I was driving myself and as usual, the wildlife experience was sensational.

At that time of the year the annual migration of the wildebeest from the Mara to the Serengeti is in full swing. Thousands of plains animals swarm across the savannah with a variety of predators in stealthy pursuit. Within the first day we saw all of the so-called Big Five: lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino.

From the Masai Mara we drove to Lake Nakuru NP, which is famous for its flamingos as well as the usual host of other animals and birds. Nakuru is also known for its sizeable population of white rhinos.

Continuing north we headed to Samburu National Park, which I hadn’t visited for many years. Severe floods had literally washed away the lodges on the Ewaso Ng’iro River in March, and only a couple had re-opened. Our home for three days, Elephant Bedroom, was one of them. It is aptly named. On the first night I was awoken by an elephant’s rumbling tummy as it browsed on a bush a couple of metres from the bed, on the other side of the canvas.

Our final destination was the island of Lamu, an old Arab trading port and a setting for my novel to be published in March 2012 (as yet untitled).

 

SEPTEMBER 2010

In the Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) with fellow author Tony Park.

In the Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) with fellow author Tony Park.

My mate and fellow writer, Tony Park, each year puts together a team to work with others from Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe to do a game count in Hwange National Park. The count is taken over the day and night of the last full moon of the dry season and involves camping out on a 24-hour stake-out at an assigned water hole. Taking it in shifts with another volunteer, I counted and recorded everything I could see.

In the dead of night, when you know it’s still a long time before the end of your shift and your eyes grow heavy, it’s quite surprising how the roar of a lion can quickly revive you.

At the end of our stint we had compiled a full page of animals, their numbers and the time they appeared and departed from view.

Combining figures from many others spread throughout the park, the annual count gives valuable data to experts and authorities on how wildlife stocks are varying from one year to another.

It was great fun and I was fortunate to meet some interesting people from many parts of the world.

I receive a rock-star reception at St John

I receive a rock-star reception at St John's school in the Kibera slums.

Upon arriving in Nairobi I went to visit the kids at St John’s School in Kibera, and received a rock star’s welcome.

Kibera is the largest slum in East Africa and the setting for my new novel – Softly Calls the Serengeti (to be published in March 2011). St John’s is a school supported by Oasis Africa Australia (www.oasisafrica.net) whose stated aim is “to raise awareness and funds to help create a better future for these children through development of community based schools which provide food, education, shelter, safety, health services and essential trauma counselling.” A great objective.

After being mobbed by the kids during the recess period, where my hairy arms seemed to provide endless fascination, we had a tour of the classrooms.

These kids and their parents have very little, but their enthusiasm for an education is beyond doubt. I would encourage you to take a moment to visit the Oasis Africa Australia site and help where you can.

 

MAY 2010

Tony and I a little out of focus as many photos are when fine wine is involved!

Tony and I a little out of focus as many photos are when fine wine is involved!

Tony and I a little out of focus as many photos are when fine wine is involved!

I have long been an admirer of Tony Park’s stories, which is not surprising since he is also a writer of African yarns (see www.tonypark.net), so when an opportunity arose to meet, we decided to do so in style.

Tony and I took our partners to Garfish in Manly where the food and wine were superb and the talk was of Africa.

It’s a big continent and neither of us believe we are treading in the other’s patch. Tony’s base for travel and writing is in the south (Sth Africa, Zimbabwe, etc) while I am involved several thousand kms north in Kenya.

We are definitely going to catch up for lunch in the near future. Who knows, we may even catch up in Africa too one day.

 

FEBRUARY 2010

Pacific Sun

On stage in the Atlantis Auditorium

On stage in the Atlantis Auditorium

On stage in the Atlantis Auditorium

Once again I was tapped on the shoulder to go a-sailing, so I grabbed my memory stick of PowerPoint slides and flew to Perth on 31 January.

My gig was again as guest author in charge of P&O’s Chapters Book Club, this time aboard the Pacific Sun.

For 12 glorious days of surprisingly calm weather (considering it’s the wet season up north) we cruised to Geraldton, Broome, Lombok, Bali and Komodo.

I conducted three sessions and afterwards answered questions and signed copies of my books. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) all 105 copies sold out at the second lecture.

Readers can be a persistent lot, and one of the cruise guests caught sight of me at Perth airport as I awaited my flight home, and dragged me off to the airport bookshop to sign three books for her!

 

DECEMBER 2009

It was a great honour on 2 December to be invited to speak at a charity function in support of Oasis Africa.

Oasis Africa is an organisation set up to run aid projects for orphans and families living in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

I talked about my experiences in the slums whilst researching my next novel, due out in early 2011, which is set in Kibera.

The Australian singing sensations Deni Hines, Christine Anu and their fellow musicians donated their time and talents for what was a spectacular evening of entertainment and fundraising for the children of Kibera.

To learn more about Oasis Africa, go to www.oasisafrica.net

 

DECEMBER 2009

It was a great honour on 2 December to be invited to speak at a charity function in support of Oasis Africa.

Oasis Africa is an organisation set up to run aid projects for orphans and families living in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

I talked about my experiences in the slums whilst researching my next novel, due out in early 2011, which is set in Kibera.

The Australian singing sensations Deni Hines, Christine Anu and their fellow musicians donated their time and talents for what was a spectacular evening of entertainment and fundraising for the children of Kibera.

To learn more about Oasis Africa, go to www.oasisafrica.net

 

SEPTEMBER 2009

Pacific Dawn

Frank signs copies of The Last Maasai Warrior after his lecture attended by around two hundred readers on board the Pacific Dawn

Frank signs copies of The Last Maasai Warrior after his lecture attended by around two hundred readers on board the Pacific Dawn

Frank signs copies of The Last Maasai Warrior after his lecture attended by around two hundred readers on board the Pacific Dawn

It was a great thrill to be invited to join the P&O cruise ship, Pacific Dawn, as guest author during September. For 16 days we cruised the South Pacific, visiting New Caledonia, Tonga and Fiji.

My job was to run P&O’s Chapters Book Club, which was initiated by P&O when their research showed that although people still liked to read, they could seldom afford the time. It wasn’t until they were on holidays that they made time to read.

My task involved presenting two lectures and two work shops.

The lectures were entitled It’s Only Fiction – Writing and Personal Experiences in Africa, and, Naked Africa – Realism and Research on the Dark Continent.

The first workshop focused on writing and the creative process, in particular, the use of life experience, history and imagination when writing historical novels. The second workshop was a discussion of the Maasai and the themes used in my book The Last Maasai Warrior.

The Pacific Dawn at anchor near Dravuni Island, Fiji.

The Pacific Dawn at anchor near Dravuni Island, Fiji.

MAY 2009

Commander Brian Goord, DSC, RIN (Rtd) – A Man of Africa

Brian Goord died in Christchurch, New Zealand on 8th May 2009, just 10 days short of his 98th birthday.

Brian ‘found’ me on the internet after reading one of my books. We exchanged correspondence and I soon discovered that Brian had been a farmer in Kenya from 1949 to 1963. I immediately declared him a living treasure and simply had to go to Christchurch to meet this extraordinary man, which I did in April 2008. (See Brian’s story here).

Brian read most, if not all of my books and was not shy in emailing his comments, both favourable and unfavourable. It was great to get feedback from a reader with such breadth of experience.

When Brian’s son, Richard, wrote to tell me the sad news of Brian’s passing he enclosed a slip of paper containing a list of sixteen ‘errata’ written in a shaky hand. They referred to my first book, Tears of the Maasai. Knowing what I now know about Kenyan history, it was easy to agree that, although the errors were quite obscure, the suggested corrections were perfectly appropriate. No other reader or editor had spotted them, but Brian had – 36 years after leaving the country!

Brian Goord – a man of Africa, and an incisive and constructive critic to the last.

Read the news from  2008 – 2007.