I read the book “I Dreamed of Africa” by Kuki Gallmann before I saw the movie. Kuki admits in her book that her writing is her therapy. She’s been keeping journals for her entire life. In her book, you really feel like you are getting to know the real Kuki Gallmann. She writes about her feelings about Kenya and moving there, how difficult it is to live in Kenya but at the same time wouldn’t live anywhere else.
In the early seventies, Kuki moved to Kenya with her husband, Paulo, and her son, Emanuele. They bought a run down ranch named Ol Ari Nyiro. The ranch consisted of 90,000 acres of land overlooking the Great Rift Valley. On the land were herds of elephants and rhino, along with lions, warthogs, snakes, and other animals.
Kuki’s story is of many tragedies. Her husband died in a car accident while Kuki was pregnant with his daughter. While collecting venom from a puff adder, Emanuele was fatally bitten. Several Kenyan employees that Kuki was close to also passed away. Death seems to pervade the entire book. Living in Kenya is about life and death, about survival.
Another theme running through “I Dreamed of Africa” is Kuki’s love of animals. She is horrified by the senseless slaughter of elephants and rhinos for their ivory tusks and horns. After her son’s death Kuki manages to pull herself out of her grief to start the Gallmann Memorial Foundation which is dedicated to preserving the wildlife and living harmoniously alongside it. Kuki has managed to use Ol Ari Nyiro as an example. She has had no poaching on the ranch for years and years. Animals from around Kenya seem to instinctively know that her ranch is a haven for them. Wounded animals find their way to her and her employees who take care of the animals’ wounds and set them free. Even the snakes, which Kuki admits to loathing, are safe at Ol Ari Nyiro. The day after Emanuele died she had his snakes set free.
No matter how many times circumstances in Kuki’s life have pulled her down she has been able to climb above it and continue on with her life. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes Kuki manages to create a new life out of her tragedies.
I borrowed this copy of I Dreamed of Africa from my local public library.