MANNERS TUSKS MYSTERY – PART 3
The missing person in the plot
IN PART 2 of this series I gave a brief résumé of events described by Harry Manners in his book Kambaku. I broached questions arising from Harry’s implication that tusks in a photo in Kambaku were from his bull, ‘Monarch of Murripa’, when they were actually those of a bull shot by Wally Johnson years earlier. Now I will discuss what Harry did not mention in his book, and endeavour to explain this strange deception.
Harry hid the fact that, for most of his ivory-hunting years described in Kambaku, he was married – despite his clear statement to the contrary (see Part 2). He and his wife lived a nomadic existence in the wilds of Mozambique and she shared most of his hunting adventures. Here is her story.
Anya Mary Levy was born in Cape Town in 1924. Abandoned at the age of two, she grew up in a Benoni convent with nuns as foster parents. The convent girls learned to dance with each other, and Anya excelled at this. Aged 16, she moved to LM to work at the Casa casino as a dance-hostess – paid to dance with men frequenting the casino lounge. Calling herself Anne, she was tall and well-figured with dark wavy hair and striking looks – she proved very popular.
During World War II, Mozambique was a neutral country and LM a busy port. The success of German submarines torpedoing Allied ships off Mozambique indicated intelligence received from spies in LM. A British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) agent, Malcolm Muggeridge, was sent to investigate. Werner von Alvensleben (who was anti-nazi) became
“…for truth is always strange; stranger than fiction” Lord Byron, 1819
his primary agent, acting as a double-agent. At the casino, Muggeridge observed Anne’s popularity among officials from the many foreign embassies in LM, as well as seamen. He knew she’d be privy to loose talk, so he engaged her as an SIS agent.
MEANWHILE, ANNE MET Harry Manners and they fell in love. Working at the casino was an Italian musician named Alfredo Manna who was spying for the Germans. In May, 1943, Muggeridge assigned Anne to lure Manna into a trap so that SIS agents could kidnap him. Harry Manners, being a weight-lifter and very fit, was engaged to do the muscle work. They knocked Manna unconscious and drove him to Swaziland
where the Royal Air Force Police took him into custody. I’ve checked on this; it’s all factual – Muggeridge included this story in his autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time.
Harry and Anne married in June 1944, when she was 21. Initially, they lived in a tent in the bush. Harry’s ivory-hunting kept them constantly on the move, their transportation a two-wheeled ox-cart. Anne accompanied Harry on hunts. She made herself bikinis (years before these became acceptable as swimwear) which she wore around camp. For hunting, Harry outfitted her with khaki jodhpurs, pith helmet, boots and leggings. She learned to shoot, but never hunted – she hated killing animals. A keen photographer, Anne recorded their life together.
Anne was present during the safari when Harry’s tracker was killed. She remembered it somewhat differently: the tracker’s name was Ben, not Sayela, and Harry used his .404. However, her description of the elephant’s killing of the tracker was much like Harry’s, only she said Harry took 12 shots to kill the bull.
With his ivory proceeds, Harry bought a Ford van and they set up a home in LM for comfortable living between safaris. This continued for eight years. Anne suffered miscarriages due to the rough conditions, and would have preferred to live in town, but she loved Harry deeply and was happy if she was with him.
Anne was there when Harry saw a bull with enormous tusks and determined to hunt it the next day, but a man named Carl Berzak arrived and asked to join in. Together they found the bull, but Berzak fired prematurely and they lost the elephant, which infuriated Harry. Anne also accompanied Harry on his trip north, and named the same places he did: Massinga, Inhambane and across the Zambezi to Marromeu where they met Gustav Guex and admired the Eden in which he lived. She took photos of it.
In 1952, Harry left Anne for another woman. There is much more to this story than I can include here – I intend to write a book on it. However, I have told enough to shed light on the ‘Tusk Mystery’.
How do I know all this? Well, during her final years, after her second husband died, Anne lived in White River, Mpumalanga, where Brian Marsh regularly visited relatives. Brian and Jillie met Anne and introduced her to Magnum, and she told us the whole story. We persuaded her to write articles for Magnum. Harry Manners had never mentioned Anne, so I felt I should tell him we’d accepted her article about her first safari with him. Much alarmed, he asked me not to publish it, as Anne had “caused him so much trouble”. I assured him her article was complimentary about him. It appeared in Magnum’s August 1996 edition. She allowed me to copy photos from her album. Sadly, she died around the end of that year. We published her second article posthumously in Dec 1997.
Anne’s photos prove her story, including one of Harry’s tracker, dead where he lay after the elephant had attacked him. Although Anne gave Harry duplicates of some of her photos, no editions of his book include one of the deceased tracker.
It was Anne who took the photo of Harry outside the trading store in Beira, standing between the two big tusks that Wally Johnson had shot some time earlier, and which Wally’s wife had later sold to the trader. Anne told us that Harry asked the trader if they could carry the tusks outside for a photo. I possess a note in Anne’s handwriting saying, “The trader would not say from whom he bought the tusks, so Harry presumed it was a poacher.” This is further proof that these are not the Monarch of Murippa tusks.
I also have an article published in the January 11, 1994 edition of Die Laevelder, a Nelspruit newspaper, which briefly tells Anne’s story. Harry lived in Nelspruit at the time and must have read it, but never mentioned it.
AROUND 1952, HARRY, Anne and Werner von Alvensleben took the well-known South African author, Stuart Cloete, on safari, during which Cloete wrote his novel, The Curve and the Tusk (published 1953). Anne upset Cloete by remarking that he’d never once left camp throughout the entire safari, but sat under a tree writing a book about a heroic elephant hunter. Later interviewed by the Cape Argus, Cloete said he’d
been on safari with “a bunch of Nazis”. Anne wrote to him, care of the newspaper, demanding an apology. Cloete claimed he’d been misquoted.
Earlier, Harry had taken photos of Anne in safari gear posing with a rifle and a dead elephant (she told us she never shot the elephant). Anne also had photos of herself wearing her bikini in the bush. After their break-up in 1952, Anne worked for the LM Guardian whose sub-editor, Frank de Freitas, was a correspondent for the Johannesburg Sunday Times. On seeing these photos, he got the Times to do an article billing her as ‘The Jungle Woman of Mozambique’. It was also published in the UK and USA.
By now you will have realised that the ‘Carmen’ in Harry’s story was in fact Anne Manners. Early in the ‘Hoodoo Safari’ chapter of Kambaku (Rowland Ward edition), Harry has a mental flashback of a dark-haired beauty he names ‘Delores’. “I had fallen madly in love with her… I wouldn’t forget her – ever.” He said he’d met her at a casino in LM, she was a dance hostess; “… she was irresistible, and cared for me too”. He wrote of her ‘flashing dark eyes’. This clearly describes Anne. However, he implies ‘Delores’ had another man in her life and this ended their brief affair.
Why did Harry hide his marriage and invent Carmen? I can only speculate, but here are my thoughts.
As early as 1960, Harry was writing fiction. I have several pages cut from the magazine Bluebook for Men, published in New
York, dated December 1960. They contain an 11 000-word ‘Book Bonus’ titled ‘Matepe’ by Harry Manners & Tom Macdonald (the latter being a Johannesburg-based news journalist who later returned to England). It’s a story of a hunt for an elephant in Mozambique carrying tusks of 180lbs a side. Incidentally, this weight seems to have been fixed (fixated?) in Harry’s mind: the same Rota Sul Southern Route article I quoted in Part 1 says Harry Manners claimed he shot an elephant in Milange district ‘with tusks weighing about 80kg’ (roughly 180lbs). However, no official record existed, and the accompanying photo was that of Harry with Wally Johnson’s tusks outside the trading store. So Harry was already propagating the deception in 1974. However, this tusk-weight is the sole similarity between the fictional tale in Bluebook and Harry’s Monarch of Murripa story. In the Bluebook story, the elephant’s name is Matepe and the tracker is Sayela, who, in Harry’s book, was killed prior to the Monarch of Murripa story. The hunter is an Irishman named Sean O’linn and the details are entirely different.
IN 1964, HARRY guided the famous author Robert Ruark on safari (Magnum March 1996). Harry mentioned his desire to write a book about his hunting experiences and asked for advice, and Ruark described in detail how he structured his own books. Now, Ruark mostly wrote fiction. Harry had read Ruark’s Something of Value and its sequel, Uhuru, both about the adventures and loves of a professional hunter in Kenya. Harry’s Kambaku reads very much like a novel: lots of dialogue, dramatic barroom brawls, graphic descriptions, heroic action, and of course… Carmen. Harry felt that his story should include a love interest. And he had a perfect ‘love-on-safari’ story in Anne, who had shared all his adventures. But their marriage
had ended in an acrimoni
ous divorce due to his infidelity. That kind of ending would not enhance his story.
And so he invented Carmen (he even made her look like Anne). But this created a problem: Harry claimed Kambaku to be the true story of his ivory-hunting career. He knew that readers would ask what happened to Carmen – where was she? So, he had to kill her off. He cleverly set the stage by giving her a Durban background, a mother with a serious heart condition, and an American father. He drowns Carmen, adding the shark imperative because he could not have her body being found. The shock causes her mother to die of a heart attack, after which her father returns to America. No loose ends, no gravestone, no-one remaining – problem solved. But, as Shakespeare said, “the truth will come to light”. Disappointing, yes, but Harry did what he thought would make his book more saleable.
Inevitably, the question will arise: was there ever a Monarch of Murripa? Or was Harry following another guideline for writing popular novels: end with an impressive climax? Strangely, considering all the many photos of Harry with dead tuskers, he never published any photo of that elephant or its tusks. It’s as if no such photo was taken. Instead he published a photo his wife took of him posing with Wally Johnson’s tusks, implying that these were the Monarch’s. Harry’s name appears in 4th position in Records of Big Game with tusk-weights submitted by a Rowland Ward measurer who neither weighed nor saw the tusks; he simply requested their mention some 25 years after they’d been auctioned off. The entry was based solely on Harry’s word and a deceptive photo.
Inevitably, the question will arise: was there ever a Monarch of Murripa? Or was Harry following another guideline for writing popular novels: end with an impressive climax?
Fred ‘Ra-da-phiri’ Everett told me he’d seen a pair of very big tusks on the back of Harry’s lorry, but did not mention an estimated weight or say where this was. Also, Harry did shoot a pretty big elephant while at Shangrila. Perhaps he exaggerated the weights to romanticise his story. In Kambaku he wrote that before preparing his 2.5 tons of ivory (including the Monarch’s tusks) for rail to his bank in Beira, he got all his porters to walk in single file, each carrying a tusk on his shoulder, while he filmed the scene with a movie camera. He never mentioned what became of that film.
HOWEVER, UNLIKE THE fictional Carmen, Anne was at Shangrila when Harry shot a bull which he may have later romanticised as his Monarch of Murippa. Their marriage broke up immediately after this. As always, Anne took her own photos. She did not give Harry duplicates of these final photos – possibly due to the break-up – but she let me make copies from her album. Two are of the long line of porters carrying Harry’s ivory. The foremost tusks are impressive.
Did Harry ever shoot a 180-pounder? I guess that will remain a mystery.