The East Africa Interhash was conceived by Marty ‘Garfied’ Hanratty and Mike ‘Sister Michael’ Fotheringham over a beer at one of the Hash pubs in Addis Ababa.
It was 1996, and Sister Michael was about to get married. Garfield was to be his best man. To celebrate they both registered for the Cyprus Interhash that same year but were upset that so few local Hashers in Addis Ababa were able to get visas to Cyprus, in fact none were able to attend. This was something that Sister Michael and Garfield discussed over a few beers and Garfield, GM of Addis Ababa Hash at the time asked, ‘Why the hell doesn’t Africa have an International event?’ Sister Michael replied, ‘Good question, why the hell not?’ The two of them decided to arrange an international event in Addis so that all our local Hashers could attend without needing visas. And the idea was put forward to the rest of the hashers who all thought it sounded like a good idea. The event was pretty rough and ready to keep the costs down, with a Hash Bash where unlimited beer was provided, but the food was just a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise! The local US Marine Security Guards provided the disco, and it was a resounding success. Garfield previously hashed with the White House Hash House Harriers and “borrowed” their logo of bouncing Hares and designed a T-shirt which he got sponsored by a local company. The event has been renamed the Pan Africa Hash and has since gone from strength to strength. Sister Michael and Garfield are amazed and gratified that it has taken off and has been continued. Hashing in Africa deserves an event of its own!
1997 Machakos, Kenya – hosted by the Nairobi Hash House Harriers and led by GM David ‘Beer Slut, Muchane, in the land of Kenya’s proverbial sex stars, Machakos. This time 220 hashers came from 8 countries to enjoy the Tusker beer.
1998 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – the third Pan Africa Hash was held in sweaty and humid Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with trails evidently lasting 2 hours with plenty of Safari Lager, the local beer which is considered by the Kenyans to be inferior to their Tusker beer and what was even worse it had been sitting in the sun for hours. According to Gun Slinger from Nairobi H3, one of the hashers was a pilot so some of the hashers chartered a plane to Dar. The aisles were evidently full of beer which of course was Tusker and plenty of hash songs were sung on the way. This was hosted by Jim ‘The Nob’ Wahilenski and Paul ‘Mr Bean’ Philips.
1999, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
After this Pan Africa became a biennial affair. By this time one of the original founders, Garfield had moved South and became GM of Harare hash in in Zimbabwe. He decided to inflict the event on hashers in the south and helped by Shawn ‘Tinkerbell’ Burges and Shelia ‘Flier’ Jacobs, they chose the mighty Victoria Falls as a location. The event had now grown to 470 hashers from 18 countries who were the first guests at Kingdom Hotel. The late Robert ‘Bwana’ Walker recalls setting a pre-ramble to the Vic Falls from Harare and Mbinga before hashers took a ferry the whole length of Lake Kariba. He also ran the circles in the bush where elephants and buffalo were encountered on the hash trails. Due to plenty of Marula fruit, the elephants were just as drunk as the hashers. One hasher was evidently even collecting their dung as it was good for her garden.
2001, Durban, South Africa
Evidently Durban hash were coerced into hosting the next one and 300 hashers showed up. The biggest event was a train Hash organised by Bwana from Durban to Cape Town and a post ramble to the Natal game reserves and north to hash with Maputo H3.
2003, Mombasa, Kenya
Pan Africa moved back to Kenya and this time to the coast of Mombasa. Numbers were a little down due to recent terrorist activity in Kenya but nothing happened to the hashers who attended. This time Bwana organised a pre-ramble from Nairobi through to Tanzania for 80 international hashers. Highlights were hashing in the Rift Valley and Lake Manyara and Maputo Hash performing the “Hat Dance” on stage in Arusha and Mombasa which is still hailed as the best hash act Africa has ever seen.
2005, Cape Town, South Africa
The hash moved back to South Africa. The highlight of this was the 9-day Africa X—press from Joburg to Cape Town led by Bwana. A 13-carriage train sleeping 150 hashers were hired for 8 days. The train had two bars and two diners and starting with a hash in Soweto, hashers hardly slept as they partied on the train from Maputo to Swaziland, Durban, Ficksburg (Maseru H3), and onto Gariep Dam and Knysna before a triumphant arrival of nearly 50% of the participants in Cape Town. The legendary Nairobi hasher Father Hen evidently ended up running 9 hours of a ball breaker run since he got lost and went up a mountain forgetting his hotel was at sea level.
2007, Maputo, Mozambique
After the success of his train hash, Bwana moved the hash to Mozambique. There was fantastic support from international hashers with 60 countries joining including 3 of the 4 hashers in the world who had been to every Interhash and 49 Malaysians who had never been to Africa before. Care arranged a pre-lube hash for them to the offshore islands on a catamaran and made himself world-famous in Malaysian hash circles. The biggest story from this event was the explosion of left-over bombs from the civil war as hashers were returning to the city which meant they were stuck for hours as the ferries were not working. This did not worry the hashers as there was plenty of beer and bars and they continued to party. The weekend went brilliantly and ended with a post-ramble to the deserted and wild Maputo elephant reserve. Short Cutting Bastard’s most vivid memories were due to the hotel mistaking his name to be female he found himself sharing with a female and swimming naked with the other hashers in the hotel pool.
2009, Kampala, Uganda
KH3 moved the event back east in 2009 and hosted the first Red Dress Run during a Pan Africa event. This was flagged off by the Mayor wearing a huge red wig. The main run started from the source of the White Nile and the Addis hashers ended up being the front running bastards.
2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Pan Africa moved back to its birthplace and a second Red Dress Run was held with 250 hashers. This would have been revolutionary for the Addis hashers since they don’t normally partake of Red Dress runs in the true hash sense.
2013 Cape Coast, Ghana
The first Pan Africa Hash to be held in West Africa attracting 300 hashers hosted by the late Eric ‘Digit’ McGaw, chariman and GM ‘Highland Fling’. Short Cutting Bastard remembers setting a very wet and swampy trail with water up to the chest. Other highlights were the music, food, Digit’s son’s restaurant by the beach and the university accommodation catering to all budgets with the most expensive rooms being those belonging to professors. SCB started to fly onto New York but a bird got caught up in the plane and they had to turn back which meant extending time in Accra and enjoying 5-star hotel accommodation for free.
2015 Malindi, Kenya
Pan Africa 2015 was originally won by Freetown Hash House Harriers, Sierre Leone and was well promoted with lots of registrations. Unfortunately, due to the Ebola Crisis it had to be cancelled with the Nairobi Hash House Harriers stepping in to take it back to the Kenyan coast and this time, Malindi. Hashers had a lot of fun in Malindi and many of them ended up extending their stay. Unfortunately, one Addis hasher ended up breaking her ankle in Hell’s Kitchen, the odd sandstone canyon outside Malinda, one of the run sites for the event.
2017 Lagos, Nigeria
The original plan was for Sierra Leone to host it in 2017 but as the hash mismanagement were busy dealing with Ebola, they were unable to attend Pan Africa in Kenya. This resulted in Lagos Hash House Harriers in the words of Sierra Leone hashers ‘stealing’ it for 2017. Lagos H3 promised the best event ever and did a good job with the set-up of the nightly venue which was a stage on reclaimed land of the affluent area of Victoria island with tight security where hashers partied, ate and drank with plenty of local beer until they dropped into the local clubs when the venue closed. Most of the trails were nothing to write home about apart from the one that involved a ride on a boat to Tarkwa Beach which was always over-subscribed. The ‘meet and greet’ service was very memorable with a hash bus full of beer and non-stop hash songs to the hotels.
2019 Freetown, Sierra Leone
Pan Africa finally made it to Sierra Leone and Freetown hash put on a good event despite all the obstacles of an election rally from a political party dressed in red canceling the planned Red Dress run and the local authorities constantly not giving permission to planned run sites. Hashers still got a good dose of Sierra Leone’s beaches and hills. Food and venue were well organized and there was a good turn-out of international hashers. The most annoying issue was that several hashers were stranded without their luggage for days as many international flights making a quick stop-off in Freetown often lost luggage. On arrival at the airport, instead of a bus, hashers had to take a boat to Freetown and had plenty of beer while waiting for it to leave.
Many thanks to Sister Michael, Garfield, Short Cutting Bastard, Gun Slinger from Nairobi H3 and the late Bwana from Maputo H3 for sharing their memories, Higgins for checking and verifying the dates and the written record left by the late Digit in the souvenir book for Pan Africa 2015.