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Lengai Story from the 1960's

Page history last edited by Frederick Belton 13 years, 6 months ago

The following was sent to me by Ian Gregory of Arusha:

"I thought this amusing story might be of interest to you and your website readers:- It was the year that Oldoinyo Lengai blew its top with a vengeance, 1966 or '67 I forget.


A charter pilot friend of mine working, at the time, with the Nairobi-based company Wilkenair (and who became my boss for many years) was flying from Entebbe to Dar es Salaam with a prominent businessman aboard, the boss of the giant Madhvani sugar estates in Uganda. It was a long flight and by way of arousing some interest in his VIP passenger, Capt Ceri Thomas pointed out Oldoinyo Lengai a few miles ahead of the aircraft explaining that it was a "semi-active volcano" and since the aircraft's track took it right over the summit "would you like to have a closer look?". His passenger firmly but politely declined, expressing grave reservations about going anywhere near it; but Captain Thomas laughed it off citing that decades had elapsed since a significant eruption of Lengai had taken place, "quite possibly not even within living memory, let alone a puff of smoke emanating from its summit". Just moments after that dismissive statement, and Captain Thomas himself intent upon an in-depth glance at this magnificent geophysical feature, Oldoinyo Lengai exploded mightily right before their very eyes, barely minutes before the intended overflight. Both aircraft occupants were mortified at the apparent power of suggestion, and whilst keeping a respectful distance from this extraordinary spectacle for the sake of his near-apoplectic passenger, Captain Thomas had the presence of mind to take a series of photographs of this momentous occasion.


Following his death in 1991, and as the trustee to Captain Thomas's estate, I rescued these photographs as being of potential interest, in the course of time. Although the faded (Ektachrome, I believe) slide-photographs do need dedicated and radical 'digital surgery' to render them worthwhile for publication, following decades of tropicalization from coastal deterioration, they might yet be of historical interest once I have prepared them."

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