Written By: Richard Kik
Translated By: Carrie Bettelini
Edition: The Christian Education Press, 1959
Hardcover, 87 pages
No ISBN Shown
Table of Contents
According to the cover blurb, Richard Kik was "in friendly association with Albert Schweitzer for thirty years." The admiration that Kik had for Schweitzer is clearly evident in this small book, which is partially a biography of Schweitzer and partially a description of the circumstances of his hospital. The book begins with several chapters that describe Schweitzer's childhood and adolescence in Alsace, then briefly discusses his preparations for and early years as a medical missionary. Most of this material seems to come secondhand from Schweitzer's autobiographical books. Once Schweitzer is established at Lambarene, Kik switches to predominantly presenting anedotes and vignettes from life at the hospital. This material likely is derived from Kik's own experience and conversations with Schweitzer.
There are much better Schweitzer biographies (see for example Brabazon's Albert Schweitzer: A Biography or Schweitzer's own Out of My Life and Thought) and also better descriptions of life at the hospital (such as Jilek-Aall's Working with Dr. Schweitzer or Berman's In Africa With Schweitzer). But With Schweitzer in Lambarene has some interesting descriptions, particularly of the animal and plant life at the hospital.
"Yes, so very much like Noah in the ark is Albert Schweitzer in his hospital village at Lambarene on the Ogowe River. The Doctor inspects the spacious grounds in front of the long barracks. He is surrounded by barking dogs who jump up on him, lick his hands, and happily wag their tails. He can scarcely defend himself from their overwhelming friendliness. The entire pack accompanies him; some run barking ahead, others press against him and get in his way.
Schweitzer visits his wild boars who live in an enclosure, Thekla and Schufterle, names originating in Friedrich Schiller's plays. They have raised themselves on their hind feet against the top rail of the fence and grunt in friendly fashion. 'How are things going with your lordships?' he laughs and pats their heads."
"For the last time before his departure Schweitzer turns his steps toward the hospital and the plantation. A narrow path leads through banana fields to the orchard. Here young healthy trees are thriving; through the dark green foliage glimpses are caught of yellow oranges and tangerines. The sight of this lush golden fruit prompts the Doctor [Schweitzer] to forget the many months of work and care he and his helpers had to undergo to set out the plantation. He pauses for a moment at a clump of kapok trees. They promise a good yield. On the opposite side coffee plants line the path. Their leaves hang wilted under the scorching rays of the tropical sun. A breadfruit tree marks the boundary of the plantation. Its foliage, gray-green on one side and a glistening dark green on the other, shimmers and dances in the glorious colors. Tomatoes hang red and ripe from high vines. Their luxuriance reminds the Doctor that he has been unsuccessful in his many attempts to grow potatoes in Lambarene. In the damp tropical heat the stalks soon grew to a height of more than six feet but would yield no tubers."
[While Schweitzer is on board a ship sailing to Africa, he is called to help deliver a baby.] "After a while the wails of a newly-born fill the cabin and Doctor Schweitzer happily announces to the Captain that he has gained a new passenger. That same day a sailor at Schweitzer's request brings some tools; a saw, hammer and a pair of pliers. Somewhere he finds an empty wooden box. The Doctor pulls out nails and straightens them, saws and hammers away. The sailors stand amazed as, with confidence, he works on the wood, board after board, without flaw until quickly the box changes shape into a useful cradle. They know that this great man is a skillful doctor and a noted organist; that this peculiar genius is also a carpenter is almost unbelievable."
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