life in Africa:
In 1951, aged 31 Vivian was posted to remote areas of Tanzania, worked as a member of a team conducting medical surveys under the auspices of the British Colonial Service. Every day, Doctor Usborne walked miles through dramatic landscapes in the Northern Province gathering data on common diseases from rural inhabitants on Ukara Island in Lake Victoria and, later, in the savannas of Sukumuland. In 1953, she treated patients in mission hospitals in the far reaches of the Southern Province. She journeyed thousands of miles throughout East Africa, often alone, by car, train, boat, and small plane. She bathed in crocodile-infested waters, lived for months without plumbing, electricity, or running water, slept on a cot inches above roosting bats, fell asleep to the beating of drums and the howling of hyenas, sampled lakefly cakes and fried locusts. She painted the people and places she observed with only the materials at hand.
extracts from Vivian Mary's book:
To an island in Africa
4.UKARA ISLAND: Dr Usborne’s Garden.
This is looking out from the house. On the right you can see my kitchen. I transplanted the Old Maid flowers that grow wild on the island. The plant is also called Vinca Major – a wonderful plant that is used to beat Leukaemia.
|5. UKARA ISLAND:
View of Nurse Nora’s house
Up the hill and along the road was Irish nurse Nora’s aluminium house in this incredible setting. I made up none of these rocks! This is exactly how it was rock by rock. There was a fantastic amount of erosion in front of the house. She didn’t like these rocks. Pythons were said to dwell in them. Thinking the snakes might be visiting ancestors, the Wakara sometimes left milk for them to drink. Eventually we moved to another part of Tanzania. Nora said, “Oh I’m glad we are moving. Above all there won't be any rocks".