I believe everyone that is following or planning to go on the Africa 2009 should read the Travel Warnings at the United States Department of State website. You need to read what the World Health Organization says about the pandemic and epidemic diseases and illnesses occurring throughout Africa. After you read about them go to and read about the acute poverty throughout Africa. In addition to these areas of sadness add the droughts, and food shortages. And we shouldn’t forget the non-terrorist and non-military crime rates.
Not a pretty picture. The people were poor in 1959
, but most Africans weren’t faced with AIDS. They weren’t faced with civil wars, tribal warfare and religious warfare. After colonialism then the flood gate opened.
IN 50 years Africa has been the forgotten continent. There have been attempts here and there to remedy the problems and issues in Africa. Within the last few years there has been more attention to alleviate these many problems.
In traveling one must understand that all of these problems create a survival mentality. You do what you have to do to live. Beg, borrow or steal.
In the short term it looks like it will get worse before it will get better.
The fastest and largest growing religion in Africa is Islam. Is it non-militant or fundamentalist in nature? In our world today be assured that United States citizens are portrayed as “devils” and the group responsible for the African miseries. Oh yes, someone has to be a scapegoat to unify the control and the minds of converts. Hitler did a number on the German people.
Think of all of the revolutions, civil wars, fighting, killing and murdering over the last 50 years. Russia, China, Cuba, the United States and others have sold arms to the rebels, governments and any group that required weapons. The AK-47 is the pet weapon of most insurgents. Because of the heavy flow of arms, a household may not have food, but they probably have a weapon of extreme killing power. Do you remember the children’s army in any of the killing fields in Africa? Armed with these weapons.
Why discuss weapons of killing? In 1959
bows and arrows, spears and machetes were the weapons in rural Africa. A few rifles here and there, but mostly manual armaments.
Any way most people fly into to Cairo. Take a Nile boat trip and fly home. They fly into Nairobi and take a tour of the animal sanctuaries. Fly in, tourist trips, and home.
How many years did it take us to clean up our blood supply here in the United States? Quite a few. I gave blood for many years. There was a questionnaire looking for heapatitis and possible aids carriers. One question dealt with your travels to Africa.
If you need transfusions in Africa there is a strong chance of getting bad blood. This is a potential problem.
A No Opinion on a 2009 African Safari
I’m not sure if my communication yesterday was clear.
The original Africa Caravan in 1959-1960 had the following areas covered.
Political stability in the areas of travel. Colonialism, protectorates, autocratic control of nations gave safe going from Cape Town to Cairo. Only two occasions did we have to have extraordinary protection. The Emperor Haile Selaise had twenty of his palace guards ride with the Caravan through most of Southern Ethiopia. This area was under tribal control. When we left the U.S. Army base in Asmara we had two jeeps with mounted 50 caliber machine guns escort through bandit territory on our way to the Sudan.
There is no doubt that there is safety in numbers. With 41 rigs, four or five doctors, a factory mechanic, paid advance scouts, and Wally Byam there was an infrastructure. Many of the Caravaners had been with Wally on several Caravans. Europe, Mexico, Central America, and Canada. The Wagon Boss, Louis Mousely had been wagon boss in Eastern Canada, Europe…what a guy to be at the head of the Caravan, he orchestrated the parking at the camp sites, and he held the Caravan in-line.
Backing up the group was the Wally Byam Caravan Headquarters. They made the arrangements, they wrote the letters, and they arranged for visas, they arranged for transportation of the rigs. Under the control of Helen Byam Schwamborn.
The doctors carried a full range of medicines and medical equipment. If you became sick go to trailer xyz and see the doctor. If you were sick you had a doctor in camp not 200 miles away.
Over the years the Caravaners that traveled with Wally on three or four Caravans were mechanics, not by trade, but by travel. They could work on gear boxes, cabinets in the trailer, anything that needed correcting. This group of 8 or 10 families helped make the trip go from south to north.
Let’s not forgot Art Ruiz from the factory. With his product knowledge and the support of the Caravan mechanics mountains were moved at times.
The advance scouts check out the roads in most areas. There were several times that it was necessary for them to remain with group on travel days. They checked campsites, talked with national, regional and city officials. They posted signs to the camp grounds. Checked out market areas. Took passports to embassies for visas, Bulgaria is an example of that chore.
But the shinning glory was Wally Byam. The world traveler, the entrepreneur, the engineer, the diplomat, and a leader. Wally was always in charge. There have been many Caravan leaders over the year…but no Wally Byam. The can do man.
That was then what about now.
It is gone. Tribal law, tribal fighting, and lawlessness reigns in most of Africa. Also the United States has lost most of its esteem. United States equals Americans. What does this mean? In too many areas of the world American citizens have a target on their backs.
A high profile expedition like a caravan of Airstreams in Africa is tempting to bandits, radicals, and terrorists. Even with armed mercenaries for protection, can you survive a heavy fire fight, what about land mines? If captured what about ransoms? Beheading? Torture? Execution?
Is Africa safe today? Not really.
There was only one Wally Byam.
Africa has many epidemics. Some are communicable diseases without any form of treatment. (They might threaten the Caravanners.) This alone brings on wide spread poverty. In 1959
people were poor but self-reliant. Today there is poverty so wide spread, and so deep that survival is the motivation to do anything.
How many people going to Africa can raise there hands and say I have been of three or more Caravan’s of extreme conditions?
The age range in 1959 was four years of age, to Doctor Monroe in his 80’s. The average age of our group was 50.
GO OR NO GO?
The little I know about the big picture…my answer is NO GO.
I’m concerned that the trip is a 60/40 chance of making it without some form of international news of a serious nature. The only way a trip like should be conducted is if you are 100% sure that you are not putting its members in harms way.
In 2005 at the Springfield Rally I had a small discussion with a meeting of those planning to go to Africa. In fact I was willing, at that time, to go. Not now. I will not associate my name or my family name (Schwamborn and Byam) to an undertaking that has a high risk threatening the lives of fellow Caravaners.
I have talked with a friend of mine from that trip. The person when asked to do something for the adventure, declined. The person didn’t want his name even remotely associated with the 2009 tour. We both agreed about the almost recklessness of doing the 1959 trip today.
I am not currently associated with Airstream or the Wally Byam Caravan Club, Int. Both of these organizations need to be careful in choosing their endorsements of the venture. If the trip goes okay what a wonderful publicity coo. If it goes bad over 76 years of great stuff goes away. Personally the tour should be cancelled.
An evaluation needs to be made by the group.
First will the safety, security and well-being of the group be at 100%?
Second will medical needs be availability at all times, in a timely manner?
Third with the apparent risks involved do you want to tarnish the name and image of Airstream?
Fourth, with the apparent risks involved do you want to tarnish the name and image of Wally Byam Caravans, and the Wally Byam Caravan Club, International?
Fifth with the apparent risks involved do you want to tarnish the name and image of Wally Byam? A man who would never put his owners at the risk of this upcoming trip to Africa.
Please excuse by bluntness. But there is more to this trip than just the fever to re-enact the past.
Unicorns are gone forever! Out of Africa!