Maybe it’s odd timing to post these begone Zambia pictures. There was very little to report anymore after my numerous and elaborate stories last summer. But it seems I have left out a few details. Like the true and tragic tale of Jack Goddard, a dapper Englishman who married a Zambian Bemba princess and got eaten by a lion. According to testament “he was on a hunting expedition to catch a man eater and ended up becoming its dinner.” Boo. In the 1920s this was not uncommon practice. Lions roamed freely among the people. They fought each other fiercely for land and red meat and made one particular man’s job especially perilous. More often than not, the mail in Zambia was late because the poor old postman was chased up a tree by lions.
Fast-forward nearly a century: big cats, and many other mighty African bush animals are no longer allowed on human land. They live in National Parks, protected against poachers and their own ferocious appetite for bipedal flesh. The African lion is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their numbers went down from 200,000 to just 32,000. It’s a dire, frustrating situation for locals and foreigners alike. And so it is perhaps ironic that Jack’s great-grand-daughter, Gloria Huwiler, a beautiful, young actress residing in London, is advocating for those same animals that killed her ancestor, and feels “he got what he deserved, quite frankly…”
Gloria is an active member of the Tau Foundation – Tau means lion – a group of Zambians who not only strive to empower women by teaching them how to manufacture local products, like the sandals in these photos, and organize work shops for future fashion entrepreneurs, like I did, but also support all kinds of small and large parks that rehabilitate big cats, like the Mukuni Big 5, where these photos were taken. Gloria and I visited the park right after the cats had eaten their breakfast and went for a scenic walk. Unlike Jack’s gruesome fate though, we both survived their sweet paws. “I could happily have taken one of the cheetahs home with me,” she said. “They were so affectionate and lovable.”
Gloria grew up on these lands, and in the center of attention. Her fondest childhood memory is “being a flower in our first ballet concert at the Lusaka Playhouse”. Much to the disdain of the male, business-minded members of her family, it was the beginning of an irreparable passion for acting. “I’m the only one who has dedicated my time fully to pursuing a career in the arts. The guys in the fam can be a bit of an obstacle if you’re looking for validation as an artist,” she complains, “but then again without obstacles how do you reaffirm your commitment to your passion and dreams and build the strength to pursue them? So it’s character building, I guess, and I thank them! My dad was very disappointed when he came to my university graduation and found me still on stage, doing my final one-woman showcase. There was a moment when I took a class on law, he really hoped it would stick. Alas.”
Her manager says she’s “down to earth” but she personally contributes her success to “enthusiasm, I guess? Is that an asset?” In her most recent movie And the Circus Leaves Town, she solemnly proves that point. “The indie I did in Turkey had no medic I can remember,” she thinks “and I danced in a circle of fire, literally, balanced on someone’s shoulders, pranced around in wings and five-inch stilettos with a mouth full of paraffin and eventually lay down in a pile of manure. I loved it.” So yeah, enthusiasm…
When we said goodbye to the cats, I gifted Gloria the white eye-let Phillip Lim dress she’s wearing with the cheetahs, because she loves fashion too. “Fashion is the fun side of things,” she admits. “My casting outfits vary greatly depending on the audition I’m going out for: from ethnically ambiguous vixen – I get that a lot in breakdowns – the ethnically ambiguous thing – to skater girl, to cop, to high-powered lawyer chick, to crack addict… and I love playing dress up. Outside of acting-work related activities I’m a slob and live in my sweats, my converse and a beany to hide my unruly curls, at home writing and languishing in existential angst.”
Anyways, Tau is working hard on a new shoe collection, and setting up a PayPal account to receive donations. You will hear from us!