The old baobab seems almost like a guardian on the sweeping plain at the foot of the Bright Mountain, where everything is ready for the last safari of the second millennium: the base camp has been pitched and many herds are wandering about. Every day the hunters go out in shooting parties guided by the Maasai experts, and every night they display their trophies. Some shoot at any animal, some choose their prey on the basis of rareness, some refuse to kill females and wait for the male, in the meantime listening to Africa. The lion speaks with the voice of Kimani: the lion remembers the legends and knows the most recent facts, the old hunter interprets his tale; he answers or falls silent to the many questions from buana Umberto who already knows a lot of stories, but would like to know even more. Who is Komboni, the “white Maasai” the mercenaries are looking for, protected by the beautiful Ero at the cost of her own life? Who hides in the large baobab, and why did the tree of the devil whose wood does not burn catch fire one night? Kimani speaks and Africa stirs. The tribes are at war, different ethnic groups wipe each other out; the young people wish to leave to change things, and the white man comes for the same reason; some bring food and medicines, others instead bring a new god. In his name, some fight poverty and disease; some use it to justify the massacres, and all this will not change with the dawn of the new millennium. One legend, though, can still change: the legend of the “man of ashes”, told at dawn as the fires burn out, which tells of a hunter without a prey. That man has returned to Africa to learn. Maybe he has hated, and again hesitated, but this time, not before a trophy.
Special correspondent in Africa and Asia for the national newspaper “La Nazione”, of which he later became director, Umberto Cecchi today directs the Canale 10 TV station. Sulla Via dorata per Samarcanda, published in this same series in 2005 and this year at its third reprint, has been one of his greatest successes. Also for Vallecchi, but in the Storie Italiane series, he has published “Io che uccidevo le bambole”. .