[26] A sting in the tail – deadly scorpion

Land Rover
An old Land Rover.

From my Tanganyika diary, Friday December 15th, 1961:

During ‘The Rains’ nastier bugs move indoors including deadly scorpion.
My survival kit for the next safari included bottles of drinking water, fitting into a compartmented box, straw lined to prevent rattling.
Our first survival rule read NEVER PUT YOUR HAND INTO A HOLE.
I forgot it, and knew what hit me before I saw it.
Burns, stings and high voltage shocks a-plenty; but nothing had equalled this, stunning rather than electrifying.

A deadly Scorpion with uplifted tail.
A deadly Scorpion with uplifted tail.

Got to get to hospital after my deadly scorpion sting!

Twas the servants day off and there, were no cars in sight at neighbouring bungalows.
My own old Land Rover was difficult to start, needing a swing with the starting handle.
The right hand and arm, as expected started to seize up: – gotta work fast, three miles to the hospital:

Two kinds of scorpion were known locally; — Big black ones with large claws and
small stings, frightening but not deadly, and ‘mine’; small, white, with weak
claws and big powerful stings; dangerous – a deadly scorpion!

Got my old bus moving, road hogged away in a cloud of dust, and into the hospital compound.

Hospital at last!

No ‘A. & E’ sign, but found the duty orderly, eventually.
Fortunately I knew some Kiswahili; pointed at the bitten finger and said “Nge” (scorpion).
The grin confirmed he understood.
“The Bwana’s copped a scorpion, that’I larn him!”

He reappeared with the duty sister, bearing a huge syringe in an enamel tray.
Hand anchored on the table, I received an ‘Anti Scorpion’ jab, at the same spot but not so painful this time.
The finger was inflated like a sausage and I was ‘Sat down for an hour to rest’ — with a cup of tea.

After my deadly scorpion sting:

I made it back to the bungalow.
Next day, I swallowed my pride, setting off with a ‘Departmental driver’ at the ‘Departmental wheel’, and a dull pain in the armpit.

Twenty years later, in Earith, I continued to ‘Tap out’ my shoes before wearing them – deadly scorpions? [i]
Don’t gloat!
Black Widow spiders are known in Cornwall, and Tarantula’s turn up in stems of bananas!

Joe Lucas May 2006

Jesus once mentioned scorpions as being something nasty:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:9-13

See Joe’s first African safari article: [1] African 1950’s Safari introduction
This was the last of the African safari articles.

[i] How to identify a potentially dangerous scorpion (opens in a new window)

By Joe Lucas

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