The Dukes of Lower Lapunde

By Roger Pinckney

      Maurice Bessinger was the barbeque king of Columbia, South Carolina—quite literally, a man on a white horse. He rode in parades; he shook hands with presidents; he served hush-puppies with every meal and he perfected a honey-mustard yellow sauce he called Carolina Gold.

And indeed it was, for it made him a millionaire. Six locations in four counties, you could find his yellow sauce in most supermarkets across the South. Pretty soon, Maurice Bessinger was the largest single purveyor of barbeque in America.

But he also monumentally annoyed the NAACP by flying a huge Confederate battle flag over his Piggy Park restaurant at the corner of Charleston Highway and Middleton Street, main drag in West Columbia. His sauce had the flag on the label too. 

Quite clearly, something had to be done and the aggrieved parties from both sides of the argument sprang into action. There were suits, countersuits, boycotts and counter-boycotts, recriminations, hand-wringing and hair-pulls. One by one, supermarkets began dropping Carolina Gold Honey Mustard Sauce. I got the last two bottles off the shelf in a Piggly Wiggly in Savannah, Georgia.

      And then I took them to Africa.

                                          ******

      They called it the Lower Lapunde.  I can’t find it on any map but I know I was there from the warthog tusks on my desk as I write. Alas, there were no bush pigs in the Lower Lapunde and warthogs were elusive. I shot birds by the dozens, an impala, a puku, even a Cape buffalo—a one-shot kill in heavy cover that scared me so bad I wanted to take back stuff I ain’t even stole.

      Shadrick was my gunbearer. He was a traveling preacher who worked his way down from Angola, an old man who would smoke every cigarette you gave him, then run 200 yards in that strange loose-boned bush-African lope, to retrieve downed game. 

Forget what you saw in the movies. Your gunbearer does not carry your gun so you won’t have to. He carries it so you can’t. On the stalk, your professional hunter [PH], goes first with his “stopping rifle,” in this case a .470 Nitro Express double. You are second and unarmed, your gunbearer is third, bearing your gun. Last thing your PH needs is a nervous man he does not know behind him with a loaded rifle. He knows the gunbearer and trusts him completely, as should you.

But I soon suspected there was a conspiracy afoot. Though they sent me with Shadrick scrambling along a rotten stone slope while the PH drove a parade of warthogs below us, there was nothing worth shooting. Headed back to the bush-camp from my last afternoon hunt, just about Can’t See, a sizeable warthog streaked across the track, turned and considered us about 20 seconds too long.

“Ah, your warthog, Bwana,” Shadrick said as he passed me my rifle.

Pop, wop, flop.

“It was a fine shot, Bwana.”

Indeed. It wasn’t long but it was quick, very quick. And it was also at the last minute. By the time that warthog hit the fire, I’d be on the bush plane headed for Lusaka. By the time it came off the mopane coals, I’d be in Jo-berg, boarding a train to Cape Town. The hands would have it all to themselves. Most likely, they’d pulled this stunt before. They hacked out the tusks and put them in my gun case.

Nothing else to do, back at the bush-camp, I hollered-up Shadrick, gave him my two bottles of Maurice Bessinger’s Carolina Gold Honey Mustard Barbeque Sauce. 

He studied the label long and hard.  “I have seen this flag before, on our TV.”  He paused.  “Yes, I have seen it, The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Much later, I learned warthog does not taste like pig at all, it tastes more like goat. They grill some fine goat in Argentina, but Argentina was a long, long way from the Lower Lapunde. 

Sometimes things work out in the damndest ways.




From the FE Films Archive


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