In the steps of Veronica Tudor-Williams

In 1959 Veronica Tudor-Williams went to Nzara, Sudan, where she acquired two Basenjis. One of them, Fula, she kept for herself. For my third trip to Africa I decided to follow in VTW’s footsteps to find native African Basenjis.

I combined the trip to get Native Basenjis with a three-day safari to Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. I flew into Entebbe and stayed the night at the Red Chilli Hideaway. Red Chilli is the tour company doing the tour to the National Park.  In the morning I met the  driver and six other people who would be going on the same tour. Some of my fellow travelers were from Holland, Switzerland, and U.S. We arrived at the park in the late afternoon.

We took a tour of the top of Murchison Falls, and then we went to the Red Chilli camp where we were shown our accommodations and had our dinner. Early the next morning we left camp and traveled by ferry across the Victoria Nile and saw antelopes, buffalos, giraffes, and elephants. We had lunch at the camp, then returned to the ferry crossing and took a boat trip up the Victoria Nile to just below the falls. We saw plenty of hippos, a crocodile, and birds. The next morning we were up early for our last Safari in the park. We crossed by ferry and drove north to the border of the park; saw plenty of antelopes, elephants, and warthogs. We then traveled east to Koruma Falls, which is higher upstream on the Victoria Nile. 

There I met my driver Hassen, and we parted from the safari tour. We traveled north to Juba and stayed overnight at AFEX Camp. It took 15 hours to travel from Juba to Nzara over very bad roads. I saw some dogs along the road as we got closer to our destination, but it was dark and they darted off the road before I could get a good look at them. We arrived at 2AM. I had made previous arrangements to stay at the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) compound with Bishop Peni, who showed us our accommodations.

In the morning we met the staff, including Jeremiah, who would facilitate our stay. The bishop would not be staying because he was flying that morning to Juba for a NGO peace conference related to the civil war in South Sudan. After breakfast we traveled south to Sakure. We ran into a roadblock in Sakure and were not allowed to go farther because there was a SPLM (South Sudan Army) camp just down the road. We found that the number of dogs in the area was small because people were not keeping dogs as they once did. At the first compound we saw two adults. Later, we saw a female puppy at one compound, and a male with a bad leg at another. I liked the girl pup but decided to wait and see what came up on the road going toward Doruma. 

The next morning, traveling west on the road toward Doruma, DRC, we stopped at a compound where we saw some adults and puppies. I realized then I had forgotten to bring my South Sudan money, but we had not traveled far so we went back to get it. We traveled back and then past where we had first stopped. A local directed us to a compound about three miles east of Busukangbi where there were puppies available.  Among several, I focused my attention on the two female puppies with nicest red coats. I decided to acquire one that had black hairs on her tail, which I would name Kiri. We negotiated a price of 200 South Sudanese pounds. I found out later from Jeremiah that the family had a daughter in the hospital, and the money from puppy would help them pay for their daughter’s healthcare. We traveled on to Busukangbi where we learned of a male puppy that was available. We hiked a little ways to the compound and saw a red and white puppy, approximately three months old and very friendly. I decided to acquire him, and we negotiated a price of 380 South Sudanese pounds for Nzoro. Although I would have liked to travel on toward Doruma to see more dogs, the locals in Busukangbi informed us that not too many people are living there due to past attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army. We decided to return to Nzara. I sent an email describing the dogs I acquired to Dr. Alex in Kampala so he could generate a Ugandan import permit.

The next day, Friday, we got Health Certificates for the dogs from the State Ministry of Agriculture, Directorate of Animal Resources and Fisheries in Yambio, so they could be transported.

On Monday we left for Juba. I was concerned because I had not yet been emailed the import document for the dogs by Dr. Alex. I was hoping it would be ready by the time we got to. On the way past Yambio I saw several very nice looking dogs along the road, including the only tricolor I ever saw.  After Meridi I saw a man with a bow and arrows and two dogs with him.

The diesel engine died just before we entered Mambe. There were trucks parked up ahead, so Hassan walked there and came back with one of the truck drivers. The engine cranked but did not fire up. We pushed the vehicle to the shade where the trucks were parked and they looked at it some more, but they could not fix it. Hassan called the tour company to send up a mechanic. We pushed the vehicle up the road to a very spartan hotel in Mambe, where we stayed. The mechanic arrived from the south via bus and hired motorcycle around 9PM the next evening. After working for three hours, he determined the problem was with the glow plug, but he did not have the part. Two more people were dispatched by the tour company in a car, and they arrived from the south the following evening. At last, the part was replaced and the vehicle started fine. 

We decided to travel to the border on the road going south out of Mambe. At Yei we were trying to find the road south and heard the cocking of a gun when we stopped at an intersection. It was contingent of SPLM soldiers who asked why we were out at night. They ordered us out of the vehicles and inspected our passports and vehicles. They seemed satisfied with our story of trying to make the border to get to Kampala for my flight and then pointed us to the correct road to the border. We arrived around 6AM and had to wait until 8AM for the border to open. After crossing the border, we stopped in a town and had tea. I called the airline to reschedule my flight for the next day, since it was not going to be possible to make it to Kampala in time. We arrived in Kampala around 7PM.

At 9:00 the next morning,  I hired a car to take me to the vet and airport. Dr. Alex was out on a call, but I had planned to be there until noon, so we waited. Nzoro and Kiri played with another dog and explored. Just before noon, Dr. Alex came back and I officially handed the dogs over to him for their thirty-day quarantine.

 

 A week before Kiri and Nzoro were to fly to the U.S. Nzoro became ill with acute Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis and died. Kiri never got sick but she showed depression after Nzoro's passing. On March 30 Dr. Alex put Kiri on her flight to the United States. She flew from Entebbe to Amsterdam. She missed the connecting flight and stayed at the Doggy hotel at the airport. On April Fools Day Kiri arrived in Seattle.

Ebop took Kiri under her wing and they have been best buddies. She has a soft temperament and is willing to please.  I have had her do Barn Hunt and she has an instinct title. She is also in Obedience class and except for down, is doing fine. She will be at the BCOA National for the African Stock Exhibition.

- James E Johannes