Not Many Wise -

Faith and spirituality in a modern world


COOKIES: This website uses cookies to improve your experience of this website. No personal info is collected. See more info.

[3] A Gift of Marbles

JOE’S JOURNAL Tanganyika AUGUST 1960

4 glass marbles.
Four glass marbles.

Not in my diary, but the following event regularly ‘pops up on my internal screen’:

The fuel gauge creeps down as the miles wind up.
A respectful Jeeves-like cough from the engine suggests more petrol (and less sand) would improve carburation.
Indeed, the manual for early Land Rovers recommended a daily oil change under the dustiest conditions.
Forgetting the colourful oil company jingles and slogans, I pull in to the very next ‘Duka’. (Duka is Kiswahili for ‘shop’ – the sell everything store – invariably owned by an Indian family, the keystone of East African rural life.)

Eight hand-pumped gallons filled the 10 gallon tank beneath the driver’s (my) seat, so we were just 2 gallons ‘off the bottom’.
As always, ‘Jeeves’ got it right – first time.
I paid up, completed the paperwork – as per Departmental Rules – and then the beaming proprietor began counting cool objects into my sweaty outstretched palms.
No – NOT CHANGE!
Seven clicks as each kissed its neighbour, eight little spheres of gleaming glass with whorls of white on blue, green, red or amber, two of each hue.
One per gallon MARBLES!
This latest addition to my collection of oil company promotional gifts joined the jumble of survival kit in my bush jacket pockets, which equalled any female handbag for variety and bulk.

Attention drifted from the road ahead decades back to that journey homeward bound from school, as mate and marbles clicked away the miles towards tea time.
‘Blood Alley’ (reds) trumped the other colours!
The problem arose whenever hand entered pocket – what to do with them?
“Lost yer marbles ? – Try Joe, he’s found some.”
No cups displayed above the club bar for this sport.
Try to forget it, but their click persisted- for the next three days.

At last. The bungalow is in sight, and a long hot soak, then a long cool beer, or two, at the club.
My servant’s two children are playing in the sand.
Toys? No chance, not even shoes.
I fumble for the keys, and, once again, ‘clickety—click’!
“EUREKA”!

Joe rolling some marbles to the children.
Joe rolling some marbles to the children.

I rolled four marbles towards each infant.
The look of wonder on their tiny faces was followed by fathers quiet “Thanks Boss”.
The day’s tension unwound as I came down to my level and they rose up to theirs!
The bath and beer became an anti climax, but that scene is embedded within me to this day.
At the bar, I never told my friendly oil company rep how much joy was created by eight gallon’s worth of baubles.

Back to the Bible- it’s all there:

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Luke 1:51 – 53

Joe Lucas December 2006
Joe’s next article [4] The Victoria Falls

Joe Lucas

December 2006

Explore these related themes Tags:

Related Posts[6] Sable Antelope Head of a Sable Antelope

What chance against a lion?
A Sable Antelope in a (then) Southern Rhodesia Game Reserve…

[7] A 1960’s Safari Guide and me Joe and guide close up.

1962 Luangwa Valley Game Reserve. My visit, with the African Safari Guide, to this area was inspired by the book ‘Wildlife in an African Territory’ by F. Frazer-Darling. Having satisfied the manager I was self contained…

[8] Tanganyikan safari: Fire in the night Dirt road in Tanganyika.

An hour or so later on this Tanganyikan safari: Awake! … Smoke! … Fire? ‘Get back to sleep; it’s the crew and their camp fire, still rejoicing.’ Another hour. Awake again, more smoke, but no fire and the crew silent now. Sleep again.
And again! Choking this time and definitely not from wood smoke!…

[9] Wallowing Hippopotamus Nearly submerged Hippo

1962 Luangwa Valley Game Reserve. Hippopotamus live near the lodge where I spent the night. All day they laze and wallow in the pool. At night they graze on the fresh green grass around the lodge…

[10] A bad short cut down the Muse Escarpment! Muse Escarpment: public use at own risk.

Well, this short cut includes the Muse Escarpment; descending 2000 feet in a mile and a half. Four years earlier, I made the trip as a passenger in the middle seat of a Land Rover, so I knew what was coming. Fortunately for Mohammed, he didn’t know…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *