Sunday, July 26, 2015

“The Final Safari: A Photographic Essay”

Orland resident Martin Burrows, armed with press credentials and a commission to report for the Sacramento Valley Mirror, landed in Nairobi, Kenya in the summer of 2014. His stories for the paper, along with dozens of full-c0lor images, have been collected in a new book, “The Final Safari: A Photographic Essay” ($14.99 in paperback from CreateSpace, available at

Burrows is no stranger to Africa. “I arranged in the 1970s,” he writes, “to go to the American University of Cairo in Egypt as an exchange student from California State University at Chico. After graduating, I got a job representing a high-profile Saudi company.” He tried to use his position for financial enrichment, meeting in Mogadishu in 1977 for the purpose of selling arms to Somalis. “The enterprise fell apart in a catastrophic fashion, and I seriously contemplated suicide. Instead, I converted to Catholicism.” It was amazing grace.

Now, Burrows was returning to Africa, to Kenya and Uganda, for cultural enrichment. With the Ebola outbreak, tourism dropped dramatically, “thus enabling me to have access to any hotel and safari vehicle I wanted.” So it was off to Nakuru Lake Park in Kenya in search of lions.

“I hired a private vehicle rather than go with a group so I could stop and get out to get good photos. As this was against park regulations, I asked my driver why this was so. He said, ‘because the lions will eat you.’ I told him, nonsense, I would give him seven dollars if he would let me out. He said, okay. I now knew what my life was worth.”

When no lions turn up on his various safaris, he begins to realize his guides were promising more than they could deliver. Burrows is determined to find the beasts despite all the “lion.” It was a matter of pride.

Uganda is friendly, but there were long bus rides. “If we are young with a cast iron behind, go for it, but at sixty seven and flabby I probably should have known better.”

From pick pockets to charging elephants, Burrows’ straight-talking account and accompanying pictures make for an armchair safari of a love affair with Africa.

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