In the fifties, when I was in 3rd or 4th grade in Chatham, Ontario, Canada,my fascination with Africa began. I grew up in a religious family and Vacation Bible School [VBS] was a good thing. And I wanted to go to the VBS at the local Baptist Church, even though the Baptist Church was considered lightweight in the family circles. But I went, not so much for the Bible stories, but because I knew that there would be missionaries there who were based in Africa and they would tell of their work. Most importantly they would show black and white movies of Africa, of wild, fierce, beautiful and unimaginable animals and lots of other things. I was mesmerized by the out-of-mind locations, the jungle - we had nothing like that in Ontario and I remembered nothing similar from my first five years of life on a Dutch island in the Rhine/Maas delta
It was exotic, foreign and beyond my imagination. I loved the animals and could not imagine anywhere where they would roam freely. I dreamt of someday being able to go travelling to see them. The people intrigued me; living in brilliant sunshine in summer clothes all year long - although at the time I did not realize that the white attitudes towards them were, to say the least - patronizing. It all seemed very far away and impossible.
We did not have television, but I knew that my favourite shows were the nature shows when I got to watch TV at my friends' places. Mutual of Omaha's The Wild KIngdom with Marlin Perkins is burned into my memory. As I got older and through out my adulthood, the only real compelling and unspoken reason to have a television was to watch the nature shows and especially those that showcased exotic locales. Nature on PBS has long been special to me along with The Nature of Things with David Suzuki on CBC and many others. That continues to this day. I escape into them when I want to go to a 'more natural state'; supposedly not as conflicted as our lives in the urban jungle.