... doomed to you, I will tell
About the leaders in leopard skins,
What is in the darkness of the forest for the victory
Drive hordes of gloomy warriors.
Africa has attracted Gumilyov since childhood. The details of his first trip to Abyssinia are unknown. Subsequent expeditions were agreed with the Academy of Sciences. “I had to go to the port of Djibutti from there by rail to Harrar, then, making a caravan, to the south, to the area between the Somali Peninsula and the lakes of Rudolph, Margarita, Zvi; to capture a possibly large research area, ”Gumilyov wrote in his diary.
Risking his life, Nikolay Stepanovich was the first European to visit some distant Ethiopian, Somali and many other lands.
“I collected ethnographic collections, I stopped passers-by without embarrassment to look at the things worn by them, entered houses without asking, reconsidered utensils, lost my head, trying to obtain information about the purpose of an object from those who did not understand what it was all about. They scoffed at me when I bought old clothes, one vendor cursed when I thought of taking a picture of her, and some refused to sell me what I asked for, thinking that I needed it for witchcraft. This hunt for things is extremely fascinating: little by little the picture of the life of an entire people rises before your eyes and everyone grows impatient to see it more and more. ”
Gumilyov brought not only rare items from Africa, but also photographs. All this is stored in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg.
“It’s harder to destroy legends [about Africa] than to create them” (from “The African Diary” by N. Gumilyov) - wrote Nikolay Stepanovich about his struggle with stereotypes common in Russia about ubiquitous and numerous lions, bloodthirsty hyenas and uneducated savages.
... Tomorrow we will meet and find out
To be the ruler of these places;
They are helped by black stone,
We - the golden crucifix cross.
Gumilyov with guides at the tent
The cover of the second edition of the collection of Gumilev "Shater". 1922
From the "first-hand" about the travels of Nikolai Stepanovich you can learn from his "African diary" and the book "Up the Nile", where he describes the events that happened to him in the last trip.
Despite the official assignments from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Gumilev was primarily guided by internal motives “in the new setting to find new words”. "New Words" were found by the poet - this is how the "African theme" appeared in the works of Gumilyov, which first appeared in the poem "Giraffe" from the collection "Romantic Flowers" (1907) and survived until the last of his artistic works.
And how will I tell you about the tropical garden,
About slender palm trees, about the smell of unimaginable herbs ...
You cry? Listen ... far away on Lake Chad
Exquisite wandering giraffe.
Gumilyov on the boat
Gumilyov on a mule