I'm in love and her name is Desire Grace Anyovi.
I’m in love and her name is Desire Grace Anyovi.


A word from Curt

Africans call it “Footing.”

It’s a verb.  As in “I’m footing today.”

I’ve discovered that to really know Africa, one must “go footing.”

Or as we’d say back home in the land of the pines and missing g’s, Footin.


"Piney Woods Road" by Bill Iles
“Piney Woods Road” by Bill Iles


I grew up at the dead end of a one mile gravel road.

Daddy always said when we heard a car crunching toward our house,  “They’re either lost or coming to see us.”

I’ve always been a walker.  It’s one of the healthiest things one can do for their body and mind.

It’s also good for the soul.

I love to walk in Africa.

To go footin’.

However, it’s seldom the relaxing shuffle of my Louisiana walks.

Being a white man on a black continent makes one stick out.

Every matatu (taxi) driver wants to give me a lift.

Boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) swerve over in front of me urging me to ride with them.

Somedays, walking becomes what we call a “begathon.”  It’s the most irritating part of African walking.

Children hold out their hand.  Gimme something, mister.

Street boys, hugging their belly, ask for food.

The guard at the store frisks you, then wands you, then whispers,  ‘What do you have for me today, Mzee?”

I call this the price of being in (and enjoying) Africa.

It goes with the territory.

A friend awaits me on my Entebbe walking route.
A friend awaits me on my Entebbe walking route.

Recently, I was walking through Entebbe town and thought about L.C. Kern.

L.C. Kern was one of my childhood heroes.

He had the dual distinction of owning DeRidder’s Dixie Maid ice cream plant as well as the Coca Cola bottling plant.

Both places were a part of my Louisiana upbringing.

There was nothing better than a good Dixie Maid ice cream sandwich on a sizzling August day.  Due to our heat, you couldn’t linger long on an ice cream sandwich.  If you lingered, you’d have ice cream running down your arm.

I’ll admit it here.  I’ve licked it off my forearm.

In fact, I’d do it again.

I could’ve stood in front of Mr. Kern’s Coca Cola bottling plant all day.

A large plate glass window allowed one to watch the whole process of bottling cokes on a moving conveyor belt. It was one of the highlights of a trip from Dry Creek to DeRidder: watching the assembly line filling those glass bottles.


But the Coca Cola and Dixie Maid plants weren’t the reason I remember Mr. Kern.

Nor does an ice cold coke remind me of him.

It was his habit of walking.

L.C. Kern walked everywhere.  I’m not sure he owned a car.

I’ll let his DeRidder family fill us in on that.

He was a common sight on the streets of DeRidder.  I remember my Uncle Bill (whose painting starts this post) pulling to the curb and asking,  “Mr. Kern, would you like a ride?”

“No, I’m in a hurry.”

I still recall that after probably fifty years.

Like me and my African friends,  Mr. Kern was footin’ it.

And that’s never a bad thing.


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