Africa in the 1950's: seems like Halloween every Night.

Valeria By Valeria, 1st Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Humour>Funny Stories

Read about life in the 1950's in a small East African bush town called Kongwa where going outside at night was not quite the thing to do, especially not for women and children on their own!!

Hyenas and Nightmares.

Living in Africa we had to be indoors each evening before dark. Kongwa, where I was born, was infested by hyenas. After dark they roamed round the houses howling and knocking over rubbish bins. Sometimes we heard hyena laughter which usually meant that they had found food or made a kill.

The hyenas were looked upon as cowardly creatures, but they could be very dangerous. Usually only men went out after dark and women and children only went out after dark when accompanied by a man. Whatever, you didn’t usually make a habit of walking about at night.

I remember lying in my bed in Kongwa and hearing the hyenas howling or laughing. There were occasions when we heard a hyena right outside our bedroom window which usually gave us a bit of a shock and we would cuddle down deeper under the bed clothes.

Hyenas were known to take people’s pets if they were left unattended or if by chance they got out at night. So pets were also always kept indoors after dark. One time we had bees in the wall of our house, they had made their hive between the outside timber wall and the inside plaster wall. Dad decided to leave them there to make their honey which could be harvested when it was ready.

When it came time to harvest the honey Dad made a hole in the outer timber wall, and he made another smaller hole in the inner wall directly opposite. He smoked the bees out, the smoke going in by the inner smaller hole and the bees exiting by the larger outside hole. It got dark before the process of harvesting honey was completed; everyone was outside either watching or helping to the light of torches. Our little dog, a dachshund, was sniffing around on the outskirts of the activity. Suddenly a big hyena dashed in, grabbed her, and made off with her.

Immediately, those who saw what had happened starting yelling, “Hyena! A hyena has taken the dog!” Two African guys who worked for us grabbed pangas (machetes) and went after it. Not long into the chase the hyena got scared, dropped the dog, and ran away. The African guys brought the dog back.

Mum and Nanna and we children went inside and Dad brought the dog in and then went out again to finish what he was doing with the honey. Mum and Nanna tended to the dog which was scared but alive. We children were now scared of her, the hyena had grabbed her by her muzzle and she had holes through the top of her nose made by its teeth. As she breathed bloody bubbles came out of the holes. The sight of the bloody bubbles and the harsh sound of her breathing scared us and we climbed up on the settee to get away from her. But she survived; a very lucky little dog.

Father Victor, an Italian Passionist missionary, was sitting inside his house one night reading with the door open. Next to his armchair on the floor was a bone, left there by his Alsatian. He heard the dog come in and lie down next to his chair and start chewing the bone, and without looking at it he reached down his hand to stroke its head. Just before his hand touched it, he looked down at the dog, but it wasn’t the dog, it was a hyena. He just sat very still until the hyena decided to leave.
Another time, Father Victor put a piece of meat in the bottom of an empty kerosene tin, and left it outside in the dark. A hyena came along and stuck its head into the tin to get the meat, but when he lifted his head again the tin came with it. He ran around blind with the tin on his head. We heard of another fellow who got tired of hearing a hyena howling outside his house at night when he was trying to sleep and ran out with his gun to shoot it. He was just wearing his pyjama bottoms which were held up by a cord. As he stood and aimed his gun at the hyena, the cord of his pyjamas came undone and his pants fell around his ankles. The very fortunate beast got away that night.

But the funniest hyena story that I have heard is this one written about a boy who was a boarder at Kongwa School, sent to me by a friend who also lived in Kongwa in those days:

“You have reminded me of an incident. We had a boy in Livingstone House who thought he could capture a hyena. He found a dead monitor lizard and that night he hung the lizard out of the window close to his bed by a length of string the other end of the string was tied round one of his big toes. During the night there was a sudden shriek and he was dragged out of bed by a hyena outside trying to run off with the dead lizard. What he would have done with it heaven knows.”

In Kongwa I often was plagued by nightmares. I would wake up in the night unable to scream because my voice wouldn’t come and then suddenly the scream would come out and bring Dad or Mum running. One recurring dream was about being chased by a lion. The really scary thing was that the lion was running after me very fast and I could only run in slow motion. I think that these nightmares were brought on by the howling of the hyenas outside. Sometimes I would lie in bed and promise myself that I would never go outside again. I was sure that if I continued to go outside that someday something would kill me and eat me up. But of course the very next day I would be out running around Kongwa and the bush around Kongwa with not a care in the world.


Africa, Bees, Honey, Howling, Hyena, Laughing, Lion, Nightmare

Meet the author

author avatar Valeria
I was born in East Africa, of Italian roots and raised my children in the north of Italy. I now live in Australia. My writing may focus on family and religion. And other categories. Love writing.

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author avatar Marzeus von Hemelen
1st Dec 2015 (#)

Lovely story my dear! I read the whole thing and loved it!

Today, instead of hyenas, living in Africa the biggest danger are black consciousness groups who torture and kill because of ideologies pumped into them from western leftist groups.

How times have changed, yet they still stay the same.

Cool story and keep on writing!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st Dec 2015 (#)

You have brought home the reality of living among wild beasts and that gave me the shivers. Hyenas have powerful jaws that can cut through bones in a jiffy.

Thanks Valeria, looking forward to reading more - siva

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
1st Dec 2015 (#)

Valeria, I honestly enjoy reading this. Though i wish the title was more related to Hyena because the first thing came to my mind was the lawlessness of "locals" in the area in those era. If only reader can give the star badge I definitely gives you the right accolades you deserve.

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author avatar Valeria
3rd Dec 2015 (#)

Thank you guys for all your kind and encouraging feedback. Much appreciated.

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