Of the thousands of photographs that I took during the four years that I lived in Africa, none continue to give me more pleasure that this one that I took of my friend Igor chasing away an elephant.
I guess that I like it so much because this interaction between a human and the biggest land animal is on its face so ridiculous. And yet it worked.
Igor Lupekine was my closest friend during the three years that I lived in Kenya. An avid outdoorsman, Igor took my wife and me on many safaris in East Africa. He was also the most international man I ever knew. Born in Egypt of Russian parents, Igor obtained his Ph.D. in England, taught for most of his life in Africa, and retired to Andorra.
In 1968 we travelled through Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park. One day we found the only road blocked by an elephant that refused to budge from the road. So Igor got out of the car in hopes of shooing the elephant away. Notice how he is crouching to make a quick getaway if necessary.
I followed, but not to shoo the elephant and being carefully staying close to the car. I wanted to record what I thought might be his last safari.
It wasn’t. After we left Kenya, Igor retired to tiny Andorra, a tiny principality in the Pyrenees mountains sandwiched between Spain and France.
When Igor was at work, he was professor of geology at University College, Nairobi, one of the three branches of the University of East Africa. The university was one of the East African regional organizations that I worked with in my foreign service stint with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kenya.
I took the photograph below at the University College, Nairobi, campus. Igor and I were in the crowd. On the stage were Kenya’s founding father, prime minister, and then president (and reputed Mau Mau leader) Jomo Kenyatta with his ever-present fly wisp. In those days security for national leaders wasn’t as tight as it is now!
The two guys in the center are the chancellor of the university and the vice-chancellor for University College, Nairobi. My boss, Ambassador William Attwood, the first U.S. ambassador to Kenya after it gained its independence in 1963, stands at the right rear.