France 24 – International News – 19 February 2015
Written by Chris Oke & Erin Byrnes
LAKE TANGYANIKA (TANZANIA) (AFP) –
On Lake Tanganyika, a century-old relic of World War I that became the stuff of Hollywood legend still plies the slate-grey waters — but it is not clear for how much longer.
Once a feared gunship defending the African lake for Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, the legendary vessel — which inspired the 1951 classic “The African Queen” — has been sunk and refloated twice, renamed and repurposed as a ferry.
As it marks 100 years of service, the MV Liemba, originally a symbol of colonial power, is now an essential lifeline for the people who live along the lakeshore.
“Liemba is the only safe means of transport along the lake,” said Mathew Mathia Mwanjisi, the ship’s captain. “Historically it’s very important to Tanzania as a country, but again it’s very important for the people along the coast of Lake Tanganyika.”
The tale of the warship and the battle for lake Tanganyika inspired British novelist C.S. Forester to write his 1935 novel “The African Queen”, later adapted by Hollywood in the movie of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
Piled high with pineapples, maize and rice — as well as up to 600 passengers — the MV Liemba navigates the world’s longest lake every two weeks, from Kigoma, Tanzania, in the north to Mpulungu, Zambia, in the south.
The journey of some 600 kilometres (350 miles) is meant to take some three days, but is often longer as the ship hops from village to village, transforming into a lively aquatic carnival at each stop.
Children in leaky canoes paddle alongside to sell fresh mangos. Farmers and fishermen haggle over prices. Launches laden with revellers come to welcome newlyweds home.
The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier and Peter Viertel. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and had a music score by Allan Gray. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner and Theodore Bikel.
The African Queen has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1994, with the Library of Congress deeming it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. The film currently holds a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 37 reviews. The film led to an Academy Award for Best Actor awarded to Humphrey Bogart.
Text and images from Wikipedia