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Identifier: Film Collection no. 266

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Queeny African Expedition in 1950, this is a fantasy that takes place in Kenya, for which Edgar Monsanto Queeny was able to shoot an enormous amount of animal footage. It tells the story of a young Wakamba (i.e. Kamba) man named Tondu and his search for a pair of six foot elephant tusks, the bride price demanded by the father of Lundalla, Tondu's bride-to-be. Tondu sets out to hunt, without the blessing of Sulu, the medicine man, and at the crucial moment of the hunt his bow string breaks: a very bad omen. He returns to the village for the blessing of Sulu and receives a magic arrow. Sulu plays a stringed bow with a calabash sound piece. Tondu is successful in his hunt but pays a price. On his return to the village he encounters a hostile countryside. He burns the magic arrow and peace and harmony return to the land. At the wedding, Lundalla is adorned with burnished beads and armlets and the couple rub saliva on their faces. Together they dance the wapi. As Tondu goes about his tasks, the daily life of the Wakamba is depicted, including women processing maize, tending their maize gardens, using a fire drill, making arrowheads for the uta, (or bow), and processing poison made from Acocanthera, or wild fig tree, for the arrowheads. Sulu performs a ritual under the baobab tree with seeds of wild banana: he tosses a kebuti and divines amid incantations. The many animals pictured include elephants, tickbirds, giraffes, leopards, buffaloes, lions, rhinoceroses, jackals, gazelles, wildebeests, eland, zebras, baboons, hippopotamuses, flamingoes, yellowbilled kites, impalas, chameleons, warrior ants, crowned cranes, cheetahs, wild dogs, waterbucks, weaverbirds, red-breasted bush shrikes, barbets, pelicans, marabou storks, spur-winged geese, whitecrested herons, hadada ibis, malachite kingfishers, mongooses, vultures, hyenas, termites, and pythons. In a letter to Queeny, Frederick Eaton, an AMNH trustee, wrote, "They [the curatorial staff] feel that the narrative and the sequence of the picture itself, while it may have great popular appeal, is not a faithful portrayal of the facts ... They wondered how important you felt it was for the museum's name to be on the film which we want to distribute to the theatres." The name of the museum is on the film but the differences were never completely resolved.


  • 1951

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (81 minutes) : sound, color ; 16 mm.

2 Videocassettes : U-Matic and VHS (81 minutes); sound, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

U-Matic (copy 1), VHS (copy 2).


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Edgar M. Queeny, producer and photographer; Fort B. Guerin Jr., photographer; Charles L. Tedford, script; Paul E. Prentiss, narrator; Howard Jackson, music; Victor C. Lewis, Jr., and William Chulack, editors; Jack Clink, sound; produced and re-recorded at the Jarville Studios; RKO Radio Pictures, distributor.

Wakamba, 1951
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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