Re: Ghost and the Darkness movie question

Ryan Lowell Raaum (
27 Oct 1996 10:14:36 -0700

In article <>,
> Does anyone know anything about the story presented in the recent
>moview Ghost and the Darkness. Film-makers present the story as being
>true. It took place in a place called Salvo (I think) where in 1898 an
>engineer (Patterson) was working for the Brittish to build a bridge across
>a river (what river?).

That's the Tsavo River in (present day) Kenya. In the general
idea the movie seems to be more or less accurate (although it
predictably hams it up in a lot of places). The bridge was part
of the Uganda Railway built by the British between 1895 and the
early 1900's - running from Mombasa to Kisumu. Patterson's bridge
no longer exists, having been blown up (by the German's I
believe) earlier this century.

>At least 50 workers got killed by lions.

As I remember, the official count was 28 Indians (coolies from
India were the main labor force), however, they didn't count the
Africans, so estimates run from a total of 50 to 150 people
killed by this particular pair of lions.

>Remington (I think) was a hunter that helped kill the lions. He used
>Masai to help him.

I think the whole Remington thing is BS. Over the course of the
10 months that the lions were at large, many off-duty officers,
'mighty white hunters' et al. came by and tried to bag the lions
(they killed a number of lions, but Patterson eventually got the
two man-eaters).

> Any truth to this movie story?
> Any facts known about it?

The rail-car trap is historical, not down to the last detail, but
quite close to what is presented in the movie (down to the lion
being trapped and freed by an errant shot that opened the
door). I don't think that the 'one shot' lion at the beginning
ever existed.

> Pretty good movie, but seems too amazing to be true.

The whole Uganda Railway saga is pretty amazing, lions at other
places along the lines, disease, Nandi raids, the works. It
wasn't a walk in the park.

>that it focuses somewhat on the difficulties of keeping different
>ethnicities working together as low-wage/slave? labor in trying

Labor problems were a big deal in the building of the
railway. Contract labor from India received interesting contracts
under which they got paid whether they worked or not. Delays in
shipping, etc., meant that there were crucial labor and material
shortages at times (usually not at the same time though). As this
was quite early in Kenyan colonial history, indigenous
populations (for the most part) didn't see the point in working
for money (e.g. what's the use of money?). Not to mention that
(lions or not) working conditions were hell. And so on...