The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

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    FULA'S FIRST DAY

    by Veronica Tudor-Williams

 As many people are interested in FULA, and talk of her as a living legend, and the best thing 
which ever happened to Basenjis, the dog which saved the breed; so I feel you might like to hear of
the way FULA and I found each other.
In the afternoon of May 11, 1959, John, Michael and I found ourselves in a native village
which was known as "The Village of Bad Men, " though we never found out why. It is situated al-
most in the middle of Africa where the South Sudan joins the Belgian Congo, what was French
Equatorial Africa - now Zaire and Central African Republic respectively. We had already acquired
the tiger-striped puppy TIGER, later to become CH. BINZA OF LAUGHING BROOK in the
hands of Michael Hughes-Halls. Michael and John left TIGER and me in the Landrover and went to
see if there was a Rest House in the village. (A rest house is a mud hut as opposed to sleeping in the
open - the latter is often preferable). Whilst they were gone, a native came and spoke to me in En-
glish. I could not help wondering if he was one of the Bad Men, but I could not let this opportunity
pass. As always, he asked me if the English had come back, and as always he seemed very sad
when I said no. I then told him we had come to look for Basenji dogs like the one we had in the
Land Rover, and he said, "Oh, yes, Ango Angari. " We talked for a bit, then John and Michael came
back and we arranged a meeting place where puppies could be bought. Later in the evening, a na-
tive arrived with a small puppy but it was too long backed and its tail lacked curl so I apologized for
not buying it and sent the native away. About ten minutes later, Michael arrived with the same puppy
in his arms and handed it to me saying, "Here you are, Veronica, a puppy for you!" I was horror
struck and explained I'd just turned that puppy down. Then Michael said if we did not buy, possibly
no one would bother to bring any pups for us, as messages would go out over the drums. I could
see his point so I kept the puppy. It was a dear little thing and we set to work to de-louse and deflea
it, and then it spent the evening curled in a ball on my feet with its head between my ankles, giving
out heat I did not appreciate in that climate. But worse was to come - when I went to bed in my tiny
camp bed, about two feet wide with a mosquito net about 18 inches above my head, keeping out
what little air there was, the puppy decided that around my neck was the only place to sleep. It
slept, I did not.
Early next morning when we were out in the camp, a native arrived with a small puppy in his
arms. She wore a collar tied in a bow of brightly coloured native cloth, looking too delicious for
words. She was the only puppy we saw with anything around its neck, though we did see an adult
dog on a long liana lead. I liked the pup and asked for it to be put on the ground, and I liked it even
more. I asked her name and was told, "FULA," which I wrote on an old envelope as "FOULA" and
was instantly corrected. Then to my amazement when I hesitantly asked the names of her parents, I
was told her sire was BOBI, and her dam DONAKIDE. We were then invited into the bush to see
her parents, especially as her sire had 'such a curly tail.' But alas, time did not allow this as we had a
long journey ahead of us over rough tracks. But if I had known what FULA was going to do for
Basenjis, I would have insisted even if it meant spending the night in the Land Rover on a jungle
track. It is one of my great regrets that we never saw FULA'S parents although we did see
TIGER'S, and how beautiful they were, especially his tiger-striped mother who was one of the best
Basenjis I have ever seen in my life. She excelled in Basenji type, with a wonderful wedge-shaped
head and small ears, and the most superbly curled tail right on the flank, with only the root of the tail
visible from the other side.
To return to FULA - Michael had paid twenty shilling for the puppy purchased the night be-
fore and all I could think of was that three people had travelled thousands of miles and spent hund-
reds (almost thousands) of pounds and all we have to show for it is the dear little long-backed,
straight-tailed horror. FULA'S price was forty-five shillings - I would have willingly paid a thousand
times that amount but you are looked upon as weak in the head if you don't bargain. I suggested
thirty-five shillings and the deal was clinched. I handed out the money and FULA was handed to me
and her breeder left gleefully - he probably never sold anything for so much money in his life. I then
placed FULA on the ground and she immediately showed her inherent faithfulness which has in-
creased as years have gone by - she did not stay with me but set off after her native owner down the
jungle path. He brought her back to me and told me to feed her and she then would stay with me.
She did not like anything we offered which was milk and eggs we had no meat which is an enormous
luxury in the South Sudan, so I took no chances and kept her in my arms.
Then came the question of the other puppy. I said via the native interpreter who travelled with
us that I would like give the puppy back to its breeder. The interpreter asked about money and I
told him it had been a fair and square deal and the owner would take the puppy back I did not want
my money returned. This brought beaming smiles and I bet that pup was soon sold for about ten
shillings or 50 new pence as the seemed to be a roaring trade in Basenji puppies in the South Sudan,
and not nearly enough to supply the demand. It may have fetched more as it was once owned by a
white woman, an oddity which many natives in those parts had never seen.
So the first puppy went away and the second pupp FULA, and I climbed in the Land Rover
with John, Michael and TIGER, plus the native interpreter, and then John made one the funniest re-
marks on what was a fascinating and often fun trip, you know, Veronica, if you go on buying pup-
pies like this and giving them back, it's going to become very expensive!
So much to say about finding FULA that her "First Night" must be another installment.


Reprinted from
The Basenji
Volume XI Number 7 July 1974 p. 5
Copyright © 1974 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved.
Used with permission.

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