DINNER MEETING - Friday, February 27, 1998, Fort Mason Officer's Club, San Francisco, California
Dr. Peter Duignan, Senior Fellow and Lillick Curator (emeritus) at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is a renowned scholar of African History from the origins of man to the present, with over 35 books to his credit. He has written and lectured extensively on the geography, climate and vegetation of the Rift Valley, and on the peoples of Africa..
Since the advent of man the trench of the Great Rift Valley has acted as a huge geological museum, first collecting, then preserving and, finally, displaying the fossil records of the plants and animals which evolved millions of years ago. This museum reveals a fascinating fossil record which includes such famous hominid sites as Sterkfontein Caves, where Dr. Robert Broom found the first fossilized skull of Australopithecus africanus, Mary and Louis Leakey's famous finds in Olduvai Gorge, and the exciting discovery by Don Johanson and his team, of Lucy, the three million year old skeleton found in Ethiopia's Afar Triangle.
The Great Rift Valley also includes wonderful natural features, such as the green oasis of the Okavango Delta, the mile-wide Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River, the deep blue waters of Lake Malawi, the green floor of Ngorongoro Crater with its numerous soda lakes covered in pink flamingoes, and the snow-capped volcano, Kilimanjaro.
Africa has been very aptly named the cradle of mankind. At this program Dr. Duignan will take us back four million years to the time when early hominids roamed the African plains. We will visit the stone age San Bushmen, the iron age and its Bantu migrations, and finally the powerful Axumite Kingdom of Ethiopia - the center of an empire which stretched from the Nile River across the Red Sea to Yemen. We will see all this, and the best big game parks of all Africa. Though some of them are endangered, the fascinating plants, birds and animals of Africa have not yet been wiped out. Animals still roam this area by the millions.
David Tett (right) and Peter Duignan
David Tett is an expert on the flora, fauna and natural history of the Rift region and the great game parks nestled within it. He will describe the natural historical basis for the geopolitical developments which have occurred over the past 40 years. Tett is President of Bushtracks African Expeditions, Inc. A native of Zimbabwe, David has lived and traveled in Southern Africa all his life. He formed Bushtracks African Expeditions, Inc., with the help of his wife, Carolyn, as a result of being asked to plan safaris for friends and acquaintances who wanted to know the best guides, accommodations and wildlife destinations in Southern Africa. From the beginning David and Carolyn shared strong feelings on how a safari should be designed and operated. Since founding Bushtracks, David has been successfully leading educational safaris in Africa and, while on safari, interpreting the surroundings, the history, the cultures, the ecosystems and the wildlife of the region.
In 1993 she was dismayed to find some of the ancient frescoes and murals in remote monasteries falling into sad disrepair, and in imminent danger of being lost completely. She returned the next year, leading a conservation team made up of European experts and Tibetan support personnel to two badly deteriorated sites which are not accessible by road. There they undertook, not only to remove and preserve the revered murals, but also to teach the young Tibetans the art of mural preservation and restoration.
At this meeting she described and displayed in photos the art of mural restoration. Basically this involves gluing a cloth or paper layer over the painting, then gently tapping at the covered mural with special hammers until the plaster beneath pulverizes, and finally peeling the covering off the wall with the painting still glued to it. Later, at the site or on the surface on which the painting is to be placed, the glued covering is carefully laid over the new surface, wet down thoroughly, carefully peeled off the surface, and -voila!- the mural has been transferred to a new surface.
She also described her interactions with the Kham people of western Tibet, who are consummate horsemen, were true warriors, and now tend their flocks over great expanses of treeless mountains above the timberline. These people live in "yurts" of tanned skins, and move from place to place when the grazing areas become depleted. Of interest were Logan's photos of these eastern Tibetans, some of whom have almost western features, a few with brown hair, demonstrating the influence of westerners who are assumed to have migrated into this remote area in prehistoric times. This evidence of an eastern migration from the European continent is similar to that in the areas east of the Gobi desert. Here, also, many of the people have Eurasian features, and some also have light hair, indicating the likelihood that there was a widespread migration of western man into the Orient in centuries past.
Dr. Logan's talk provoked many questions and much discussion. All copies of her first book, Among Warriors: A Martial Artist in Tibet, which she had brought were sold in a flurry of interest after her talk. Dr. Logan's travels and involvement with Tibet will continue, making her a valuable resource for further information on this last frontier region of our earth.
In the field
The first woman to climb Mt. McKinley was Barbara Washburn, wife of honorary Explorers Club Director Bradford, then director of Boston's Museum of Science as well as a climber. The feat, accomplished in June, 1947, was conceived as a show-biz gimmick. RKO Pictures, filming a mountaineering movie, wanted some background footage of a group climbing Mt. McKinley. After Brad agreed to do it, the movie moguls told him the shots would be much more interesting with a girl in them. Barbara was at hand, agreed to go with the climbers, and summited, not realizing that she had become McKinley's First Woman. Barbara Washburn is now 83.
April 24, 1998: Stephen Dutton and Heidi Tiura, "In the Paths of the Giants", Gray Whale tagging program in Monterey Bay, Site to be announced.
May 29, 1998: Art Ford, Antarctic Adventures, Site to be announced. This is the Peninsula Event.
June 28, 1998: Summer outing and party. To be announced (likely at Angel Island again)
Victoria Falls from DC-4
The group will be recommending to headquarters concerning extending passworded accounts to chapters which may want websites and need hosts. In addition, this committee will consider and recommend concerning issues around the new Federal law which the President signed in December. This law makes it a felony to copy or distribute copyrighted material over the Internet without the owner's express permission. Therefore, the Club must now take extra care to assure that all sites have appropriate copyright releases for material posted on the Web, and to provide guidelines to existing and future Webmasters.. This law could have an impact on the content of future issues of this Newsletter, as articles may have to be limited to those of strictly local origin.
Other members of this not-yet-officially-named committee, so far, are Karen Brush, Club secretary Jonathan Conrad and Bob Soberman of Philadelphia. Don Morley of the Texas Chapter also will be asked to serve. As information on new Internet issues becomes available, it will be passed on to you through this column.
Douglass DC-4 Skymaster
Bob Schmieder's guest at the January meeting was Ellen Purcell, a previous Dan Reid Memorial grant awardee. As a wildlife biologist, her field of interest is the little known wildlife of remote northwestern Tasmania. Many have at least heard of the fierce Tasmanian Devil, but how many have ever seen that other fierce, little-known and rarely-encountered animal in the northern wilds of the island, the Tasmanian Tiger?
Chairman Schmieder also introduced guest William Steinmetz, who is a descendent of Charles P. Steinmetz, the electrical engineer who, in the late 1800's, worked out the electrical basis for, and the theory of, alternating current. Dr. Steinmetz was the guiding force of the infant General Electric Company. He is credited with having made the electrification of the U.S. possible in the early years of this century, which in great part made the U.S. the world power that it became during and after World War I.
A most welcome attendee at the January meeting was Alta "Gerry" Elkus, widow of the late founder of the Northern California Chapter (Chairman from 1973 to 1978), Charles Elkus.
Three days after the January meeting Dana Isherwood left for South Georgia and Antarctica, on a boat journey titled "In the Footsteps of the Explorers." Immediately following this, she joins a group of climbers from Expedition Inspiration in New Zealand for an ascent of Mt. Aspiring. This group of breast-cancer survivors continues to raise money for cancer research. The group is still searching for an underwriter for its planned assault on the Vinson Massif in Antarctica, hopefully by 1999. Bill Isherwood, FN-70, in the meantime, will be spending time in Fairbanks continuing to promote alternative energy systems for remote villages
Red Lechwe on the Okavango Delta
A belated welcome to Dr. William Heydorn, MN-97, thoracic surgeon from Tiburon who practices primarily in the Richmond area, and was admitted to membership in the Club in 1997. Dr. Heydorn is looking forward to attending an early meeting and meeting some of the local members. Thanks for this information goes to Oscar Lopp, MN-92, of the M.M.I.
THE WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL
MARCH 28, 1998
5:30 Cocktails, 7:00 Dinner
Masai on the Mara
The Explorers Club
Northern California Chapter.
7037 Chabot Road
Oakland, CA 94618
Folger's phone: (510) 653-2572 (h), or (510) 465-9121 (w)
Please reserve spaces for the Peter Duignan talk, at the Fort Mason Center Officers Club on Friday, February 27, 1998.
$40/person... $45 if postmarked after February 20. Cocktails, 6:30 PM, Dinner, 7:30 PM, Speaker, 8:30 PM.
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Date created: 01/15/1998
Last modified: 19/21/2015
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