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Location: marengo, il, United States

Saturday, November 21, 2009

men say, no go, bwana. men say, ju-ju

when i recently mentioned tarzan the ape man as one of my heroes, i forgot about another character i much admired called jungle jim (starring johnny weissmuller), along with the actor johnny sheffield, who played the leading role in "bomba the jungle boy".

sheffield also played "boy", tarzan's young son, in some of the later tarzan movies.

what brought this to my mind today was bits of the dialogue i still recall from back then.

one particular word they used in the script was "umgawa". the authentic-sounding "african" word seemed to appear throughout their movies, and as i learned, could mean anything from "get down", "stop!", "go away" or "watch out! the elephants are coming!".

i could understand the meanings with no problem at all.

i also bought into the excitement at the time, and got down low in my theater seat to see what might happen next.

another phrase always occurred after an arduous trek through the thick jungle undergrowth. heavily-ladened african natives followed after their rifle-toting white leaders, while in the background, the beat of native drums played, increasingly growing louder and louder.

suddenly the troupe came upon a human skull, mounted on a stick close to the trail.

the drumming came to a stop.

then the men threw off their burdens and began chattering excitedly among themselves.

a spokesman for the workers then approached the white leader with the memorable line,

"men say no go, bwana. men say ju-ju."

that meant danger ahead, i assumed, and a problem for the remainder of the plot.

of course, the white man never ever listened to reason.

sort of reminds me of me.

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