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BOOK BETWEEN TWO FIRES - FIONA CAPSTICK
One of the most memorable chapters in the history of early 20th century Africa is now being shared with the Anglophone world for the first time. German East Africa and the subsequent British Mandate of Tanganyika are the backdrop to the astounding life and times of Margarete Trappe, who came out to settle in the German colony in 1907 where she died half a century later.
This young woman and her husband, Ulrich, trekked on foot over several weeks with their retinue from near Tanga on the coast to the foothills of Mount Meru, overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro. This pioneering couple went on to develop an estate of great renown for its livestock, dairy herds, horse stud and agricultural achievements. Margarete had a special affinity with the tribal peoples of her new world who embraced this young woman of translucent goodwill from a distant country and who remained by her side to the very end of her often tortuous life.
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Such were her riding, hunting, tracking and bush craft skills that Margarete Trappe became the only female intelligence operative in the East African theatre of the First World War. She would raise four children, survive two world wars, internment, deportation and sequestration as she fought to remain in the wild magnificence of her African home By 1928, Margarete Trappe had become the first full-time professional huntress in Africa and the preferred guide of the aristocracy of Europe during lengthy big game hunting expeditions.
Farmer, ethical huntress, skilled naturalist, formidable equestrienne, amateur veterinary surgeon and healer of humans, Margarete Trappe had few if any peers. Her courage in the face of adversity, endurance in the face of loss, unfailing empathy for others and her fortitude to rise up and rebuild became the stuff of legend in her own lifetime.