Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze — I was there in 1958 — the highest point of the old German Empire

September 4, 2012 at 5:09 am (A.C.T. Marke, Adolf Hitler, Commentary, David Wall, Ernest Hemingway, expatriates, James Ward, John Bowers, Papua New Guinea, Sir Ernest Spender, Temlett Conibeer)

“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai “Ngaje Ngai,” the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”  The Snows of Kilimanjaro

I don’t know if Hemingway ever got to the top of Kilimanjaro but he immortalized the frozen carcass of the leopard and the eternal question of what this creature was doing at such an altitude in his wonderful work of fiction.

For me, since my descent of the peak of Kibo, some would say, all has been downhill, on the other hand who’s to know? What was I seeking? My carcass would not have been as attractive as the remains of the leopard. I can remember when I reached the summit, I left my name: Care of New Guinea Company, Rabaul, Territory of Papua and New Guinea — perhaps out of respect to the former German Colony of New Guinea.

What of some of the other ex-colonials from PNG and their aspirations — Is the Commander Twist Semites and swastikas awaiting the reincarnation of the Fuhrer? Is the Captain among the old diggers in Collaroy/Narrabeen looking forward to the Rapture and the coming of the Lord? For the Captain, it’s the beatific vision and for the Commander, it is Aryan beauty — both sublime and heavenly!

It has been said that a lot of ex-expats from PNG suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I ,of course, don’t believe this — there’s nothing wrong with me, the Commander or the Captain. We are all quite sane, it’s just that what we want is not always what the rest of society wants. What does that make of the rest of society?

Getting back to my original question and Ernest’s, what was that old leopard doing at such a height? In Robert Browning’s words: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” The beast went beyond where food could be found and died. This will not happen to the Captain, Commander or me — we all live on pensions — we will die, but not, I think, from hunger.

The sheer scope of our endeavour, is in some ways alike to the leopard,  surely this is something to be admired.

Are we seeking a return of colonial glory in PNG? I’ll leave this question to my readers to answer.  Are we headed for the nuthouse or eternal life?

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