National Geographic : 1969 Feb
Even so, tight security gripped us. We saw the wells where Somalis-a Moslem people whose women, fine-featured and often beauti ful, go unveiled-watered their herds of goats and fat-tailed sheep, but we didn't see inside the fort. And we saw the handsome new sec ondary school, the only one in all North Eastern Province, and a new village of sturdy, substantial huts built in Kikuyu style as ex amples for the Somalis, who normally live in much cruder dwellings. The government in distant Nairobi was doing its best for the So malis-but it was keeping a tight rein on us. Death in the Desert: One Yacht Club Everyone seemed relieved when we paid a lighthearted visit to the moldering headquar ters of the old Royal Wajir Yacht Club, now defunct but once the lively, if waggish, crea tion of a former British District Commission er. He thought it would be splendid to have a yacht club in the middle of the African desert, and he built a small headquarters with a nau tical flagstaff. Visitors surrendered their hats, 202 which became wall decorations, and in return were given the Royal Wajir Yacht Club tie. I told the commissioner that, as a sailor, I was saddened to see the passing of a yacht club. He solemnly assured me that he had plans to revive it as the Wajir Ngamia Club. In Swahili, ngamia means "camel"-ship of the desert. On the spot he conferred honorary membership upon Bruce Dale and me. Security proved equally tight at El Wak, less than five miles from the Somali border. Again armed soldiers met us, and again re strictions hampered our photography. This was particularly disappointing because El Wak has a wonderfully photogenic old fort that looks as though Beau Geste should be peering down, steely-eyed and resolute, from the high walls. But we were permitted to see the interior, on our word of honor not to sneak pictures. Outside the walls the remains of trucks blown up by land mines and brought to the fort for salvage had been gathered in a rust ing pile. When we took off from the airstrip, an armed guard stood along the perimeter, eyes searching the rocky desert.