Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

Longing for Home

Campalla, Dec. 23, 1909.

Here we are, the most wise Bavian—particularly nice—and the Elderly Parent, on the last stage of their journey. I am enjoying it all, but I think Kermit regards me as a little soft, because I am so eagerly looking forward to the end, when I shall see darling, pretty Mother, my own sweetheart, and the very nicest of all nice daughters—you blessed girlie. Do you remember when you explained, with some asperity, that of course you wished Ted were at home, because you didn’t have anybody as a really intimate companion, whereas Mother had “old Father”? It is a great comfort to have a daughter to whom I can write about all kinds of intimate things!

This is a most interesting place. We crossed the great Nyanza Lake, in a comfortable steamer, in 24 hours, seeing a lovely sunset across the vast expanse of waters; and the moonlight later was as lovely. Here it is as hot as one would expect directly on the Equator, and the brilliant green landscape is fairly painted with even more brilliant flowers, on trees, bush, and vines; while the strange, semi-civilized people are most interesting. The queer little king’s Prime Minister, an exceedingly competent, gorgeously dressed, black man, reminds Kermit of a rather civilized Umslopagaar—if that is the way you spell Rider Haggard’s Zulu hero.

In this little native town we are driven round in rickshaws, each with four men pushing and pulling, who utter a queer, clanging note of exclamation in chorus, every few seconds, hour after hour.