On a beautiful cloudless sky in August 2006, with Mt. Kenya
looming in the distance, I had the opportunity to meet one of the great
personalities of Kenya and a foremost camel authority in his own right.I had just taken part in Proper Walk
2006, a walk that takes place every two years and is the brainchild of my friend
Michael Farley.The walk is used
as a fundraiser to bring in much needed revenue for the Makindu Children's
Program, located in Makindu, Kenya, as well as raise awareness of the AIDS
pandemic.It was my friend and
fellow walker Michael that introduced me to Jasper and made me aware of this most
interesting of individuals.There
are few in this world that I have met that have left such a lasting
impression.A gracious host and
always willing to share a tale or two over a cocktail, Jasper was from a
generation that witnessed both amazing change and transformation in the country
that he loved.There are few
individuals that leave such a wonderful impression on you that you find
yourself remembering the most minute of details and conversations.Jasper was as much inside of Africa as
Africa was inside of Jasper. Kenya to be exact.
I recall sitting with Jasper in late August 2008 following
the last walk that I participated in and discussing the Pokot and the
Ganunu.Jasper launched himself
into this wonderful story about the Ironsmiths of the Ganunu.I was trying to record a bit of
background during this party-like atmosphere and in the process managed to
capture a few words from Jasper as he told me something of their history.By complete accident I ran across this
short clip while searching for photographs the other day and listening to it
brought back a wealth of emotions that made me smile.
Jasper made everyone around him feel at home and you felt
something magical when you were near him.I had the opportunity to take photographs of my time with him over the
course of 4 days in 2006, and again in 2008, looking at these images now makes
me thankful for having the opportunity to have met him, to speak with him, and
to laugh with him.With the
passing of Jasper "Japper" Evans, we have lost a wonderful human being and one
of the great personalities of Kenya.
In looking back over the past several years I wish to thank
Michael Farley for the introduction and to all of Jasper's family and friends
at Ol' Maisor in Rumuruti, on the Laikipia Plateau, most especially John
Perrett, and Jasper's daughter Amanda Perrett for their wonderful hospitality
and for all of the great memories.To Jasper I say - Asante Sana Mzee
for the opportunity to have known you. it was a great honor and a real
pleasure to have had the opportunity to listen to you and enjoy a sundowner
with you. When I read Kipling in the years to come, I will forever think of you.
There was even a camel on top of Jaspers house - how fitting on this day it was pointing toward Mt. Kenya
It was as we were leaving Ol'Maisor in August 2006 - it was on the way out when we stopped to say kwaheri to the legend himself. Getting away from Jasper without one last toast was always difficult; however, it was a pleasure that we all had to partake. On this beautiful morning with the windows thrown open in Jasper's house and the view of Mt. Kenya just disappearing through the haze - one of the those extraordinary moments was about to take place. We had been enjoying Jaspers company and discussing the just completed walk when Jasper said he had a poem that he wanted us to see - we had been talking about Kipling earlier and I had said to Jasper that he was my favorite poet - with that said - the game was on. Jasper pulled forth a large volume of Kipling and found a poem that I will never forget. He thrust the book into the hands of Dennis Wininger and told him to read - Not only did Dennis do a magnificent job, he read it in such a way that the words will forever be etched in my memory. It was obviously one of Jaspers favorite poems by Kipling and it is only fitting that it be placed on this page. The poem was "You must choose between me and your cigar" - Breach of Promise Case, circa 1885 - May Jasper be listening as we read this in the years to come -
You must choose between me and your cigar
Rudyard Kipling, circa 1885
Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
We quarrelled about Havanas - we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.
Open the old cigar-box - let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.
Maggie is pretty to look at - Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.
There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away -
Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown -
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!
Maggie, my wife at fifty - grey and dour and old -
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar -
The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket -
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!
Open the old cigar-box - let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila - there is a wifely smile.
Which is the better portion - bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?
Counsellors cunning and silent - comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?
Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion - to do their duty and burn.
This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.
I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.
For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.
And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;
And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.
Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
Open the old cigar-box - let me consider anew -
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?
A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
Light me another Cuba - I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse
Dennis reading Kipling as Jasper and the rest of us enjoy this impromptu reading
Saying Kwaheri to Jasper in August 2006
Jasper just prior to evening cocktails
The perfect host
Michael Farley and Jasper Evans
Jasper and me, a story about the Pokot
Jasper and Ashley (a most talented artist)
Ashley's art work - Ol Maisor Camel
Roger, Amanda, and John - chilly evening on the Laikipa plateau - mesmerized by the evening dance
An evening of dance and celebration on the Laikipia Plateau - Mugie Ranch
The full moon and smoke from the fire created a surreal end to a beautiful evening of dance on the Laikipia plateau
The most amazing meals come out of Amanda's mobile kitchen
Michael, Jasper, Tommy, Dennis, and Dave - Jasper's Study Ol Maisor - Just after Proper Walk 2008
A final farewell - August 2008 - wonderful memories
A Baluch saddle bag - Jasper and I shared a love for the Baluch and their weavings - I had been telling Jasper about my last trip through Baluchistan and about some of the pieces in my collection when he took out a wonderful set of photographs from a trip he had made
Jasper going through a photo album of images looking for a particular photo that he had wanted to show me with a camel and a particular tribal weaving
All photographs and material on this site copyright (c) Tommy Allen and Ontheflyexpeditions unless otherwise noted. Photographs of Earnest Hemingway are in the public domain and are utilized here for Educational use only. Photographs of Peter Beard are likewise for Educational and historical purposes only. Painting on Tribute to Jasper Evans page is taken from a photograph that I took in 2006 - the painting is the sole property of the Evans family and is presented here only as a lasting tribute to the memory of Jasper Evans.