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C o n t eC onn t etn t ss
I Lassoed Rhinos with a Rope
Armed with a rope on the end of a long bamboo pole, Lu Wedd and his uncles capture rhinos to move them to game parks.
Pirates Visit Mombasa
Early Memories of Eldama Ravine
The Kakamega Goldfield - A Young Perspective
I Grew Up in Kisumu
Burji Play Key Role in NFD: Part 2
The yearly pirates party on board a Royal Navy ship in Mombasa harbour thrills the children of Mombasa Primary School.
Dr Bill Barnett recalls some events from his childhood growing up in Eldama Ravine.
When young Robert Horne’s father loses his job in Eldoret, the family moves to Kakamega to eke out a living prospecting for gold.
A Buick Invecta, a Rugby and trail-blazing Riley are just a few of the cars that have a story to tell.
From his first days at school to a scary encounter in the Hindu Cemetery, Nitin Shah remembers his childhood days in Kisumu.
The Burji move from Moyale to Marsabit to help develop the infrastructure for that administrative centre.
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story Part 13: Farming Developments 26 After the war John Etherington boosts production on his Kinangop farm and builds a stone house.
An African Hunter Remembers Part 13: Nairobi Memories 29 Edith Outram comes to Nairobi with her husband George and their first son James and gives a unique picture of early Nairobi.
Editorial Sauti Zenu - Your Letters Only in Africa Book Review: Beyond Happy Valley Historic Photo Contest Historic Worship Sites History Mystery Contest Classifieds Old Africa’s Photo Album Mwishowe - Lives That Ended in Africa
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Cover photo: Granny McDonald (Anstess Elizabeth McDonald) and three daughters in their ox wagon on the gold fields at Lolgorian in Kenya in the early 1920s. James McDonald and his wife came to Kenya from Scotland and trekked by ox wagon to Lolgorian in 1921. Their daughter Constance was born on the trek. The McDonalds also had two adopted daughters, Jean and Yvonne Beard. Carol Wedd from Naivasha submitted this photo of her Granny McDonald and her mother Connie Ball (nee McDonald) and her aunts Jean and Yvonne Beard.
that. It records what the historians consider the important events that shape the world. But those history books are incomplete. They leave out the story of the ordinary people who lived out history. In this issue of Old Africa we, like Mr McCarthy, are also in pursuit of history – the kind of history that is often overlooked. We try to fill in the gaps of the incomplete historical record. We have Lu Wedd’s memories of roping rhinos in Uganda, Shirley Pool’s record of ‘pirates’ visiting Mombasa, Nitin Mehta’s schoolboy days in Kisumu, Bore Marsa’s story of hiking from Moyale to Marsabit and more. Old Africa’s glad to help you get acquainted with East Africa’s history and those who lived it. And maybe after reading someone’s story, you’ll have a chance to meet one of our storytellers and history will get acquainted with you! - Shel Arensen, Editor
I have several boxes full of books that my parents carted to Tanganyika when they moved there in 1946. They’d been in a dusty bookshelf in our attic during my years growing up in Kenya. I ignored them, preferring to read adventures by Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes. Several books are by Irving Bacheller, my father’s favourite author when he was a boy. I decided to read one recently and I chose The Hand-Made Gentleman copyright 1909. It tells the story of Mr McCarthy, a businessman from humble origins in New York state who is teaching himself to be a gentleman. For this purpose, Mr McCarthy has a pack of white cards with historical facts, which he is memorising. Speaking to his friend, who goes by the moniker ‘The Pearl of Great Price,’ McCarthy says, “I am in Old Africa magazine pursuit of history.” P.O. Box 65 Kijabe, Kenya 00220 “Well, if you get acquainted Email: email@example.com with history, by-an’-by history is www.oldafricamagazine.com apt to get acquainted with you,” Editor: Shel Arensen Mr Pearl remarked. Then the Design and Layout: Mike Adkins, Blake Arensen Pearl of Great Price asked, “Have Printers: Regal Press, Bunyala Rd., Nairobi, KENYA (254)20-534927 Distributors: PDS you got it down that H M Pearl, Old Africa magazine is published bimonthly. It publishes stories and photos Esquire, was born at Machias, from East Africa’s past. Maine, in 1817?” Subscriptions: Subscriptions are available. In Kenya the cost is Ksh. “No; Hildreth says that all 2000/- for a one-year subscription (six issues) mailed to your postal history is necessarily incomplete,” address. You can pay by cheque or postal money order made out in favour of: Kifaru Educational and Editorial. Send your subscription order Mr McCarthy answered. and payment to: Old Africa, Box 65 Kijabe 00220 Kenya. For outside of Mr McCarthy’s pack of Kenya subscriptions see our advert in this magazine. Advertising: To advertise in Old Africa, contact the editor at editorial@ cards had facts like Columbus oldafricamagazine.com for a rate sheet or visit the website: www.oldafricadiscovering America in 1492 and magazine.com. the French settling in Quebec Contributions: Old Africa magazine welcomes articles on East Africa’s past. in 1608. But none of the cards See our writer’s guidelines on the web at: www.oldafricamagazine.com or write recorded the birth of The Pearl to: Old Africa magazine, Box 65, Kijabe 00220 Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org. After reading our guidelines and editing your work, send it of Great Price in a tiny village in to us for review either by post or email. (To ensure return of your manuscript, Maine. send it with a self-addressed envelope and stamps to cover return postage) Copyright © 2011 by Kifaru Educational and Editorial The history that gets recorded reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distribin textbooks for schools is like utedAllinrights any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
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Sauti Zenu -Your Voices
I read the memoirs of William Sanger in issue 29. William’s brother, Arthur, whom he mentions, was a very great friend of our family. I always called him “Uncle Arthur.” I knew of his connection with the famous Sanger’s Circus but never heard him speak of the brother or of how he came to Tanganyika. When I first knew him he was still recruiting labour for the Sisal Estates. After the 2nd World War Arthur spent some time in the UK in l946-1947. We stayed with him in a house he had bought in Devonshire for several weeks on our leave. He returned to Tanganyika and settled in Mbeya. He was married, but it was not a happy marriage and I don’t think his wife ever came out to Africa. For many years he lived with another great friend of ours, Mary Eustace, a widow with a son. In the early l950s he bought some land near Mbeya and started a dairy farm, Waterfall Pastures, supplying the nearby Mbeya School with milk. He died in about l958 and is buried in Mbeya. Arthur was very like an uncle to me, particularly after my parents separated, and my mother and I spent a great deal of time with him and Mary in Mbeya. Liz de Leyser, Iringa, Tanzania
Marlene Reid expressed her concern in a letter in Old Africa issue 31 about the preservation of the railway relics collected
by Kirpal Sandhu. She can rest assured that the full collection
is being carefully looked after by his son Jasbir. The relics command an imposing set up in their new house in Nyali, Mombasa. Attached is a recent photograph. Harjit S Kelley, Mombasa
I congratulate you and your editorial team on the 5th Year Anniversary edition. Each succeeding issue never ceases to please those like myself who just can’t shake off the dust off our Africa feet. Elsie and I read the magazine from cover to cover – our only regret being it doesn’t come out more often! Mervyn Maciel, Surrey, UK
I read with much interest the very informative article on the Deutsch Ostafrika emergency currency. I collected these coins during my four years in Tanga in the 1970s. When I had my Tabora gold coins checked to see if they were genuine, I commented on the differences in colour of the gold. The expert said the colour of gold can vary from mine to
mine depending on associated metals, but Mr Schlueter’s explanation of this feature appears more plausible. Even before the Belgian army moved in to take Tabora, the gold coins were famous and much desired. In his book Avec les Vainqueurs de Tabora (1935) the Belgian officer Pierre Daye in late September 1916 recorded his admiration of a 15 Rupien coin. As to the current value of Tabora ‘Sovereigns,’ I believe the 6,000 USD mentioned is over the top, though perhaps such a price may have been paid. A more realistic price is less than half that. Last year a 15 Rupien 1916 T piece was sold at auction in London at 1550 pounds! These coins, though perhaps scarce, are certainly not rare, and frequently show up at international numismatic auctions. Perhaps Mr Schlueter can help me with information on the ‘Bordgeld’ that was in use onboard the Koenigsberg. I have one of those brass round tokens. On one side two lines arranged horizontally read: S.M.S. / KONIGSBERG in a pearl edge. On the reverse side 200 is written in big numerals also in a pearl edge. The token has a diameter of 30.3mm and a thickness of 1.2mm. I also enjoyed reading contributions in recent issues of Old Africa concerning Wavell’s share in the defence of Mombasa. Wavell was an intrepid traveller imprisoned by the Turks in Sanaa when it was besieged by the tribesmen who supported the claims by their Zaydi Imam Yahya. This siege eventually led to a formal Ottoman recognition in 1910 of the Imam’s claims to the Zaydi north of the Yemen, and in due course to the withdrawal of Ottoman
troops from Yemen during World War I. I acquired a copy of Wavell’s A Modern Pilgrim in Mecca and a Siege in Sanaa, (London 1912), during the mid-1980s when I lived in Yemen. There is a hand-written note on the front flyleaf by the first owner of this book, N.M. Searle, who bought it on 28th January 1919, which reads as follows: A.J.B. Wavell, Born 1882, Commission 1900 Welsh Regiment. 1904 - 1905 Employed under Colonial Office in travelling in and reporting on South Africa. Resigned 1906. After a visit to East Africa, bought land at Mombasa, and grew Sisal hemp. Commission in Special Reserve 1913 -1914. Raised force of local Arabs for defence of Mombasa. Was severely wounded (arm shattered) in engagement on August 25th, 1914. Killed in action at Mwele, January 16th 1916, and buried by the Germans, who put a cross over his grave. It appears N. M. Searle might have been resident in East Africa during those years. Dick Nauta, Dieren, the Netherlands
It is amazing how a photograph can lead to so many stories. I refer to page 11 of Old Africa issue 30. Further to David and Ann McConnell’s article I would like to add the following: Thomas Chillingworth trekked north after the Boer War and settled on three farms overlooking Lake Naivasha and the Rift Valley where he together with Lord Delamere and others founded the Kenya Co-Operative Creameries Ltd. Part of the land at Morendat for the factory
had previously been owned by my dorm mates in Delamere House. He subsequently moved Thomas Chillingworth. One of Thomas and Muriel’s to James House. About ten six daughters was Stella who in years ago I caught up with Tom 1953 was employed as matron in Albany, Western Australia for Delamere House, Duke of and discovered he was related York School. The Delamere to the Chillingworths. Harry Assistant House master was must have been his father and John Bieneman who courted Stella his Aunt. Tom now farms and subsequently married Stella strawberries in Albany and has four daughters. in August 1957. The article concludes with a At the Duko the evening prep (homework) was followed photograph of choirboys at St by a House evening assembly, Christopher’s Church who were both in the House common pupils of the Nakuru Primary room. The master-in-charge School taken in 1951/1952. supervised the assembly after which the boys adjourned to their dormitories. The assembly also included the reading of the lesson by a nominated senior boy, who could choose his own lesson. Among the boys it was common Choirboys at St Christopher’s Church Nakuru. knowledge that John was courting Stella and longed for the end of Among the identified choirboys assembly so he could continue are Simon Combes and Michael his courtship. Whenever John Amos. Both boys went onto the was on duty, the nominated Duko and were also in Delamere lesson reader found the longest House. Sadly both now are possible passage from the Bible. deceased. Simon became a We all knew what the reader was renowned African wildlife artist up to and I think John did as well and perished when attacked by but there was nothing he could a buffalo. Michael was well known at school for his trumpet do about it! Later on John and Stella playing. He lived most of his moved to the newly founded life in Kenya before moving James House where John became to the USA. In addition Mike founding Housemaster. James O’Brian has identified himself as House was named after the appearing in the back row (on the School’s founder George James. left hand side of the photograph). In 1964 John and Stella with their Mike was also in Delamere two sons left Kenya and settled House at the Duko ending up in Wiltshire, UK. Stella passed as the Head Boy at the Duke away in August 1998 and John of York School in 1958. Mike passed away in July 2010. now lives in Mandurah - south The article also mentions of Perth, Western Australia. It is S t e l l a ’s s i s t e r H a n n a h an extremely small world - even marrying Harry Wilkinson. for Old Africans. Tom Wilkinson was one of Dave Lichtenstein, Australia
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I Lassoed Rhinos with a Rope 1959
Told by Lu Wedd
finances. So I’d join the Carr-Hartley family on safaris whenever I wasn’t at school. As we became older the four Carr-Hartley boys and I trapped animals on our own, mostly zebra and giraffe and later rhino. I left Duke of York School and had six months before going on to college in the UK. I spent that time with my uncle Ken Randall in Nanyuki catching animals. When I came back to Kenya after college, Randall offered me a job at his Kibwezi camp. In addition to catching rhino for zoos, he was also paid to translocate adult rhinos from Kibwezi to Tsavo National Park. Then we went to Meru at Giyaki where we caught rhino and moved them to what would become Meru National Park. Once I was working on the back of the catching truck when we caught a black rhino. We lassoed rhino using a rope on a long bamboo pole. We stood on top of the catching truck as the driver drove next to the stampeding animal. We had reeled this rhino next to the truck when it jabbed up with I am wearing the checked shirt with goggles, its horn. It caught me on the side of my knee, pulling a rhino close to the catching truck leaving a nasty gash. Thankfully it didn’t catch as a three-year-old being on safari in about me full behind the knee or it might have swept 1942 surrounded by hanging rows of biltong. me off the back of the truck and left me at the My dad was away at war and my mum ran the rhino’s mercy. After that we went to Embu and the Tana farm at Rumuruti, but we had no money. We’d River and moved adult rhinos gone out shooting game to from area for the building of make into biltong to feed Masinga Dam. We took those the many POWs in Kenya, rhinos to Meru and also to mainly Italians from Ethiopia. Nairobi National Park. I had We even had some working my photo published in the on our farm. The biltong was Standard newspaper at the also supplied to the troops time releasing a rhino into stationed in the area. Nairobi National Park. Tom Carr-Hartley was In 1960 we moved my uncle and I grew up with operations to Uganda. First his sons Pat, Brian, Roy and we worked outside Queen Mike. I got involved in game Elizabeth National Park. We catching at an early age, tried to catch hippos, but the going on safari with the Carrgrass was just too long. There Hartleys. I lost my father soon were so many the authorities after the war. He committed were about to start culling. suicide after coming back We wanted to catch some to from a vicious war in Burma sell to pay for he white rhino and couldn’t face the stress Back at the stockade we used rollers translocation we were about of the farm and our lack of to lower the rhino to the ground.
I Lassoed Rhinos with a Rope
On my return from training in the UK my uncle Ken Randall offered me a job catching rhino. I jumped at the chance. Randall had a rhino camp at Kibwezi. Young rhino were exported and sold to zoos. I’d always loved the bush and I remember
I Lassoed Rhinos with a Rope
to embark on. But we were not successful and we’d almost decided the only answer was to cull them when the warden called. He told us to sneak into the park at night and catch them in the dark. We had some exciting moments. We had four cars and two jeeps, a catching truck (an ex-Army 15 cwt) and a lorry to carry the captured animals. One night we surrounded a baby hippo with the vehicles. The mother hippo charged into the melee. It brushed by the jeep I was in and hit the next jeep and tipped it over. The mother escaped through the gap it had created. But we caught about 20 hippos in that operation. Then we went north of Butiaba near Murchison Falls National Park to catch young elephants. We caught about 15 for zoos. Later Tony SethSmith, Ian Parker, the Carr-Hartleys and others were called in to shoot thousands in a culling operation. After catching elephants, we went to West Nile to catch white rhino and move them to Murchison Falls National Park. No one had caught fully grown white rhinos before. We travelled through Murchison over the ferry at Pakwatch to Arua, then back to Obangi on the Nile. We set up camp on a small tributary of the Nile. First we built rhino stockades big and strong enough to hold three-ton rhinos. Our catching team consisted of my uncle Ken Randall, Pat O’Connell, also an uncle, myself and Ken Stewart, a trapper who had his own small operation and added an extra vehicle. We also had a great African crew who had come with us from Kenya. Maguru acted as the headman, with Ndirangu and Lagushin, a Turkana with a crooked arm. It had been broken and set crooked. It was his right arm and he kept it in a leather thong. He’d see a rhino and shout, “Obaya” and
A baby rhino gets used to the stockade as Pat O’Connell lifts his feet.
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I am holding the rope as the rhino bashes at the truck door.
would point, but his bent arm always pointed in a different direction from the animal. After about the third or fourth day, a Land Rover pitched up with two British gentlemen. We wore shorts and safari boots, but these guys showed up in stiff white shirts and flannels. They were part of a film crew from Anglia Television led by Colin Willock. It took them a day to get organised. Then we took them for an evening drive on the catching truck. We were about 60 kilometres south of Sudan. Ken Randall swerved into the bush. The two Brits were surprised at the speed he drove through an area with no road. John Buxton, the cameraman, asked if he was supposed to film in the bush at these speeds. Pat O’Connell, Ken Randall’s partner, said, “We haven’t started yet.” On the third morning the local trappers were leisurely having tea as we waited to go catching rhinos. The film crew could not understand the lack of urgency. Then a tracker came in with the news, “The rhinos are over the stream!” Within two minutes we were ready to go. Within five minutes we found the rhino in a burnt-out clearing surrounded by long grass. We lassoed the rhino and she ran out a long length of rope. Collin Willock stuck his head up out of the hatch of the truck to get a better view. Randall shouted at him, “Get down!” Willock ducked down just before the rope scythed over the roof of the vehicle. It could have decapitated him. The rhino then charged at Colin’s side of the truck, which had no door. As it crashed into the side of the vehicle, Colin leapt on top of Ken in the driver’s seat. Ken had to shove him back. Slowly we reeled the rhino in. We had two sturdy poles attached to the side of the catching truck. Once we caught a rhino, we wrapped the rope around the poles in a figure-eight pattern and reeled the rhino in. When it came close enough, we’d jump out and tie the rhino’s back legs. We’d release the head rope and push the rhino over issue No.34
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We stood on top of the catching truck as the driver drove next to the stampeding rhinos.
on its side before tying its front legs. We had to dig a ramp and then reverse the big carrying truck down the slope and pull the rhino up on rollers using a winch pulled by the catching truck. Later we’d unload it by manpower and release it into the boma or stockade. When we had about eight rhinos, we loaded the truck with a mother and baby and released them into Murchison National Park and came back for the others. The rhinos lived in their new home until about fifteen years later when Idi Amin’s troops shot them all with army weapons. One mother died of colic and her calf went on to live at Paraa with the name Obongi. After only a few days, Colin Willock had had enough of camp life and went away, leaving his cameraman to finish the filming. Willock later produced a TV show on catching the white rhinos for Anglia TV called “SOS Rhino.” During my time catching animals with my uncle and his team, I became engaged to marry Carol Ball. I wrote a thrilling letter home to Carol telling how elephants had surrounded us in a muddy area. Carol’s dad said, “You’re not marrying him unless he gives up that dangerous job!” He helped me get a job at East African Airways as an engineer on the Comets. Later we moved to Kericho where I worked in the tea industry until I retired. But even though I left the animal-catching business, I still had a few more chances after I was married to go with the Carr-Hartleys on catching trips. Carol and I and a party from Kericho joined the Carr-Hartleys in the Serengeti about 1966. It had rained and trackers were in front of the vehicle following spoor carefully. I jumped off and started running down the tracks ahead of the trackers. Brian and Pat jumped out and followed. I bent down to go under a tunnel of wait-a-bit thorns and saw a rhino’s backside six feet in front of me! I stopped and called, “Rhino!” Brian pushed Pat to one side where the rhino ran
past him. Brian ran for and climbed up the only tree in the area. There was no room for two so I ran for the truck with the rhino chuffing in close pursuit. I leapt on to the truck just as the rhino crashed into the side. The rhino went on to push the door in. Our friend Frances Monck-Mason was behind the door and he was so frightened he left the next day. Carol watched the whole chase from another truck and says the only thing she could think at the time was, “Is he going to make it?” Another time in the mid-1960s, we went on a holiday at the coast and camped at the CarrHartleys. Brian, Mike and Roy were going to catch elephant at Galoli on the Tana River near Garsen. They asked if I’d come along and help rope. We had two vehicles and one roper. I agreed if I could take my camera. I had never filmed any of our earlier roping expeditions. That trip was very scary. We weren’t shooting, even though we had a gun. The mother elephants would come right up to the Land Cruisers. One man smacked an elephant on the head with a debe to push her away from the vehicle. Another time someone had to hit a mother elephant with a coil of ropes to keep her away. The mothers came within an arm’s length of the Land Cruisers. I have a framed photo I took of one of the mothers chasing us. We had a puncture while another mother chased us. Mike’s vehicle cut off the
This elephant mother charged us as we attempted to capture young elephants.
elephant so we could fix the puncture. Some years later I bought a used Land Cruiser from the Carr-Hartleys. They’d used it as a rhino catching car. I entered this car for eight Rhino Charges before deciding the vehicle and I were getting too old, so now I help run control points at the charge instead. While my career, spanning over 50 years, has been in engineering, I have always had a yearning for the bush and wildlife. With any opportunity I am happy to go off into the bush and the Rhino Charge has given me a chance to do that.
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Pirates Visit Mombasa by Shirley Pool
The HMS Ark Royal that visited Mombasa was the fourth ship in the Royal Navy to carry that name.
onto the bus, which drove us from school down to the harbour. As we neared the harbour, the driver went slower and slower. We shouted and encouraged him to hurry along, but to no avail. Just inside the harbour gates were large piles of sisal and tea, all waiting to be loaded onto various ships. As we passed these stacks of cargo, out jumped a vicious group of pirates. They wore torn-off trousers and eye patches and carried cutlasses. They boarded our bus and trussed us up and carried us off – all to our shouts of excitement and glee.
They hoisted us onto their ship and bundled us down a tunnel made of canvas. We tumbled out the bottom end on top of a pile of mattresses to face the captain of the ship dressed up as the chief pirate with his bosun by his side. They stamped our hands with a skull and crossbones and made us vow not to wash it off for a week. Then they rushed us to another part of the ship for a big party with tables full of treats and big bowls of ice cream. It was part of the Mombasa tradition and we school kids loved the yearly pirates party. One of the last years I was at Mombasa Primary, the ship that docked at the harbour was HMS Ark Royal. And the party was as good as ever. Many years later I lived on the Seychelles where my husband and I had a dairy farm. It was June 1976 and France Albert Rene had just staged a coup and declared the Seychelles to be an independent nation. At the independence celebrations, the Ark Royal was in port. The British naval attaché called me and asked if I would host the captain for a meal of my famous baked fish. At first I refused. Why not take him to the Reef Hotel? Besides, I already had four sailors at the house, older men who didn’t mind staying in a house full of kids and dogs. But the attaché insisted and I finally agreed. The sailors weren’t all that happy to have their commanding officer coming for a meal. After all, they were on shore leave having fun playing cricket on the beach with my children. But the captain did come and told his men to be at ease. After the meal, we sat chatting. I mentioned that I’d been on board the Ark Royal in the early 1950s when the ship had hosted the annual pirate party in Mombasa. As I said that, the captain got a far-away look in his eyes. “Are you sure it was the Ark Royal?” he asked. I had a good memory for details and I assured him it was. With a big smile on his face, the captain said, “Then I was one of the sailors aboard the Ark Royal when you came. You’ve described the party just as it happened.” How amazing to have that common memory with the ship’s captain over 20 years after our wonderful pirate party Mombasa.
Pirates Visit Mombasa
I can still remember the sweet anticipation. As Christmas neared, one of the Royal Navy ships would visit Mombasa harbour. And we children from the Mombasa Primary School were invited to visit the ship. The day finally arrived. The boys had their hair slicked back and we girls looked smart in our white uniform dresses. We piled
Early Memories of Eldama Ravine I Early Memories of Eldama Ravine
have many memories of our family’s early years in Eldama Ravine. I remember seeing my Mother, Mama Barnett, carrying on her daily clinic under a tree out in the garden dealing with all the sick problems of the people. I used to watch her teaching the children in the first school of the area. She began with reading and writing and I can still hear her repeating the vowel sounds, “Ba, be, bi, bo, bu,” as the students repeated after her. I knew enough by then to fill in for her as the teacher when she was absent. Mama played the old pump organ she had brought from Sweden and taught the first hymns in the church: Yesu kwetu ni rafiki (What a friend we have in Jesus), Yesu anipenda (Jesus loves me) and other songs. I remember the old church
William Barnett and his sister Ruth as students at Rift Valley Academy in 1930. Photo taken by Ruth’s friend Nancy Strange (later Rainbow).
by Dr Bill Barnett Papa built using cut stone from the nearby quarry. The earliest Christian elders gave me my first lessons in theology
oxen would pull forty miles to Nakuru to buy supplies – a three day journey in those days. Papa showed me how to
Papa Barnett built the mission house at Eldama Ravine out of cedar. as I listened to their prayers. plough a straight line by guiding “Mungu Baba, Mungu kweli, the oxen while setting my eyes Mungu yu uhai, Mungu yu on a marker on the other side of the field. If my eye wandered upendo” and much more. I remember the offerings the furrow was crooked. Papa being taken up at church used it to teach me one of my - sentis, sumunis, a few earliest lessons of the Christian shillings, corn cobs, small life – keep your eye on Jesus bags of wimbi, eggs and other or else your footsteps will produce. It was my job to test wander. I remember the ox wagon the eggs after the service. I discarded the ones that floated trains of the migrating Boers from South Africa coming in my test bucket. I remember Papa putting up to settle in Kenya. The main the bell tower for the church – road in those days passed right an old discarded locomotive beside the mission station. bell. We rang it to call people Those huge four-wheel wagons for the services, but it also had up to forty head of oxen had a practical use. It helped pulling them through the sea to drive away the swarms of mud. Occasionally an ox of locusts that occasionally would stumble, fall, sink into the ground and drown. settled on the corn fields. I remember Papa building Albert and Elma Barnett the houses at the Eldama Ravine mission station. He f i r s t c a m e t o K e n y a a s taught me how to use a plane, a missionaries with the Africa hammer, a saw and other tools. Inland Mission in 1907. They He made his own plough and began working in Rumuruti harrow and trained his own with the Maasai, but after the oxen. He built a cart which our colonial government moved the
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Maasai out of Laikipia in 1912, the Barnetts were transferred to Eldama Ravine, an important administrative centre at the time. The Barnetts established a mission station and church at Eldama Ravine and used it as a base for going out on evangelistic trips to surrounding areas. William Barnett was the youngest of the five Barnett’s children, all of whom returned to East Africa as missionaries. William, affectionately known by many as ‘Dr Bill,’ practiced medicine in Tanzania, Kenya and the Comores. He and his wife Laura are now retired in California.
Papa Barnett and William visiting a Suk (now known as Pokot) village about 1930.
Right: A picnic on the way to visit the Suk in 1930. Papa and Mama Barnett with William in the front and Nancy Strange on the left. Photo probably taken by Ruth Barnett using Nancy’s camera.
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The Kakamega Goldfield A Young Perspective By Robert G. Horne My father, William C Horne, arrived 1927 in Kenya in 1927 to take a job
The Kakamega Goldfield
in Nakuru with J R Cox and Company. By 1929 he had become the branch manager in Eldoret for Motor Mart of East Africa Ltd. However the ‘Great Depression’ and the resulting world trade downturn reached East Africa the following year and businesses reduced staff numbers on a ‘last-in, first-out’ basis and Motor Mart terminated my father’s employment. I was five years old at that time and had become a pupil at the Eldoret Primary School. I still remember things that happened in Eldoret. Soon after my sister Olivia was born, a strange black cloud appeared in the sky to the west of the town. By that evening Eldoret had been inundated by a huge swarm of locusts and the Africans were catching them for food, running through big concentrations of the insects with an open debe and a cloth with which to cover the can when it was half full or so. During our family’s stay in Eldoret, father took me one evening to a wonderful circus which was in town for a few days. We saw the usual attractions of clowns and animals performing in the arena as well as a man being fired from a cannon and caught in a rope net. I remember clearly our family’s departure from Eldoret after father lost his job. Father, unsurprisingly, was not in the most pleasant frame of mind while he packed things up and
took some things away to be sold! Prospectors had recently found traces of gold in nearby Kakamega District, southwest of Eldoret, and father took us there. The journey from Eldoret to Kakamega, over the relatively unimproved single-lane road through Kapsabet, was a distance of approximately 60 miles and it generally took a car most of an afternoon to complete. Rainfall in the forest beyond Kapsabet reduced sections of the road to muddy hazards. Most cars of those days — including ours — had locally made bodies
parents bought essentials and perishables at the local shops and made last minute checks to ensure the car was in good order with spare parts, tyre chains, a jack, an axe, a rope and shovel all handy and accessible. Upon our arrival in Kakamega district we set up camp in a grove of eucalyptus trees next to the KakamegaKisumu road, about a mile north of the Yala River crossing where there was a concrete bridge. The grove of trees stood at a high point of the road where the bush had been cleared. The trees provided pleasant shade in a camp that was to be our home
African fruit and vegetable vendors at our thatch-roofed house.
built for load carrying. They had a roof that extended over the rear section where we children travelled, along with the luggage and other supplies. They had roll-up canvas sides and back curtains meant to keep out rain and dust. The morning we set out, our
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for some time. We slept in tents and had thatch-roof rondavels built for the family’s daytime living with a separate rondavel for the kitchen. A Government Land Surveyor, Mr Coghill, and his family were already camping at the site. Africans living in the area grew tropical A p r i l - M a y 2 0 11
fruits and vegetables, which they sold to us. Meat had to be cooked the day we bought it because we had no refrigeration. Roast chicken and vegetables became a regular dish for us. We l i v e d f a i r l y close to the Equator and the northeastern corner of Lake Victoria with extensive forest in the vicinity. This combination resulted in frequent afternoon thunderstorms. One evening, towards the end of such a storm, Sand and gravel being dug from the Yala riverbed within a coffer dam and then carried lightning struck the top up the riverbank in karais to the edge of the Kakamega forest. of the eucalyptus next to our biggest rondavel. A In those days they sold when Father returned we drove loud detonation coincided with into the town of Kakamega, petrol from manually operated portions of the rondavel’s earth about eight miles from the camp roadside pumps located in front floor being ripped up across to buy supplies and fuel and of the vendor’s duka. The pumps the room along the lines of collect mail from the family in had two large glass graduated the tree’s roots below. All our Scotland. measuring cylinders at the top, kerosene lamps went out: only The Government section which allowed the motorist to a petrol pressure lamp stayed of Kakamega consisted at that see how much petrol was being alight. Outside, sections of our time of the District Office, the transferred into the car’s tank. wire clotheslines fused in a Police Station and Agriculture Petrol for later use was sold shower of sparks. and Forestry offices with houses in four-gallon metal debes, A fortnight later it was for the staff in that part of the usually two of them fitting into decided the tree which had been town. Back in the 1930s, the a pinewood box. These pine struck by lightning should be commercial area was separated boxes were often used later for partly stripped of its branches from, and located to the west some of the goldfields’ ‘knockand a metal lightning conductor of the government buildings. up’ furniture. strip attached along its length, Basically it was a wide dusty I remember clearly a wellwith a branched spreader street lined on both sides by attended Armistice Day service extension fitted to the top. I was dukas where most day-to-day in the town in bright morning very impressed by the skill and essentials could be bought — sunshine in front of the DC’s dexterity of the young African groceries, clothing, hardware office. That day would have who carried out the task with and bulk supplies. There were been the 11th November 1930. little apparent concern for his also shoemakers as well as The Police provided a guard own safety. numerous tailors, each operating of honour and their bugler Soon after our arrival, my a treadle sewing machine on the sounded the ‘Last Post.’ Most father employed three African veranda of their duka. Shoes of the European men who were assistants to help with his gold and most items of clothing present were in their 30s and prospecting work. The four of could be obtained on request, 40s and wore their World War them usually left our camp on after a ‘measure up.’ During I medals or ribbons. a Monday morning, carrying visits to the town, my Mother, Meanwhile, back at the their prospecting and camping Olivia and I gravitated to the eucalyptus grove, a wet season equipment and food supplies in grocery and clothing dukas. had come and gone causing the car, and stayed away for ten Father handled the hardware and many roads in the area to days or a fortnight. Sometimes income producing essentials. become muddy traffic hazards.
The Kakamega Goldfield
My father concentrated his windows and doors. Kitchens ‘water lifters.’ The sand and prospecting interest on a were always separate because gravel in the riverbed was then section of the Yala River about cooking and water heating was dug out manually and carried in four miles upstream from the done on wood-fired ‘Dover’ karais (large metal bowls with concrete bridge that carried stoves and the whole set-up was handles) up on to the riverbank where it was sieved to remove the road over the river. He readily combustible. We children enjoyed the the gravel. The sand, which decided to move our family to this area. However, to reach warm climate and the clean contained the fine particles of that part of the river we had to river, sandy and cool as it gold, was then passed through follow a circuitous route. The flowed from high terrain to a long sloping wooden sluice first three miles we drove on the northeast and through the box by a steady flow of water. the main road north towards nearby forest. We never saw A series of ‘riffles’ (wooden Kakamega before turning off any crocodiles and fortunately slats) was fitted across the base on a rutted track to the right in never met any poisonous of the sluice box to catch the a southeasterly direction. This snakes, although they were heavier gold particles. Some took us through hilly, bush- about. Most of us children prospectors attached felt to the covered terrain close to the acquired a periodic jigger in leading side and to the top of edge of the forest and led to a our toes; however, the local each riffle and they also added dilapidated timber bridge over Africans were most skilful at mercury to the spaces between the river and then on through removing them. Malaria was the slats, hoping to improve their gold recovery. the Terika area to the Kaimosi the biggest concern. The whole process was The process of recovering Mission. M y f a t h e r a n d o t h e r very limited quantities of rudimentary and labourprospectors had concluded that alluvial gold from stream intensive, which required good the section of the river close to and river sediments is a well- employee relationships. The the timber bridge had sufficient established procedure. At Hornbill Syndicate constructed gold in the river sands to sustain Terika the HornBill Syndicate water diversions and used a marginal living. We moved built coffer dams out into the ‘flumes’ to carry a flow of temporarily into a vacant locally river at suitable locations in flat water over uneven ground built thatch-roofed house close U-shapes, using rocks, sand and to the sluice boxes. I have to the track, on the Mission side earth. The water held by each the impression that at Terika, dam was pumped out where after the workings had been of the bridge. F a t h e r a n d a n o t h e r possible using locally made moved into the forest on the prospector, Mr D K Williams, decided to work together, calling themselves the HornBill Syndicate. The Williams family had established themselves in their thatch-roof house, situated on a ridge from which they looked down on the alluvial workings in the river below. Our family’s first priority was to build a house farther along the same ridge. Fortunately, locally built houses were very low-cost constructions made from the same materials as African John Grossart standing on the timber bridge over the Yala River in 1931. dwellings, though Branches replaced many of the deck planks. bigger and longer with
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people. It had been built where the river was narrow, with high banks and fairly deep water. When prospectors arrived, they found parts A Handley Page HP42 similar to the one we saw in Kisumu. of the wooden upstream side of the timber bridge decking had rotted, bridge, where there were wide and a number of the planks reaches of the river flow, the were missing. However, they gold recoveries increased. As considered the main structure to they gained experience, the be fairly sound, so they replaced HornBill Syndicate bought a the missing planks with trimmed portable, water pump to empty tree branches and tied them to the coffer dams. the bridge’s main beams. While all that was taking Each time we had to cross the place my father also did bridge the family got out of our some prospecting for gold- car and carefully walked across, bearing quartz reefs in the followed by my father who terrain adjacent to the Yala drove the car slowly over. Had River. I remember a shaft being the bridge given way during this excavated in the bush, some operation we possibly would distance from where we lived. have lost him as well as the car It had to be timbered for safety because he could not swim! reasons as the work progressed. One weekend the family Shaft timbering anywhere is a visited Kisumu, about 23 costly and laborious task. At miles south of Kakamega. For Terika the only suitable trees entertainment, we drove to for the purpose were a few the nearby gravel airstrip and eucalyptus in a small stand saw a Handley Page HP42 along the track that led to the aircraft belonging to Imperial Mission. Father purchased Airways — the precursor of some trees, felled them and BOAC and British Airways — cut them into suitable lengths being prepared for take-off. I that were split for carrying remember being awed by its to the shaft site. There, they gigantic size. Those four-engine were re-measured, trimmed biplanes had two large radial and notched so they could be engines on the lower wings, built into sets to line the shaft. and two other radials mounted Each set was square, about six between the lower and upper feet high, and when completed wings. Imperial Airways had they were lowered, piece by a small fleet of these aircraft, piece, into the shaft and secured among the world’s first to have in position to prevent any passenger cabin accommodation. collapse of the shaft’s walls. I remember the flight crew Unfortunately, after all that wore an olive-green uniform effort, what had appeared as — jackets, breeches, leggings a potentially promising gold and boots— with white shirts prospect on the surface did not and a tie. For gold prospectors extend down very far. from the back-blocks of Kenya, The timber bridge over the air travel belonged to another Yala River concerned some world.
As time moved on, our family’s financial situation appeared to improve marginally. In addition, my parents had developed a friendship with the people at the Kaimosi Mission, an American Quaker group. Their children were being educated at Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school at Kijabe, between Nairobi and Naivasha on the Rift Valley Escarpment. My education— such as it was — needed to be restarted, so my parents enrolled me as a boarder at the school early in 1932. I was a pupil there during that year, travelling with the children from the Mission to and from the school each term. In that same year Father became employed by Kenya Development Limited in its mechanical engineering section. It was a small mining company of British origin that participated in the development of ventures in the Kakamega district and around Kavirondo to the south. None of the company’s joint investigations led to long-term viable operations being developed. In addition, no significant gold bearing occurrences were located in the Kakamega gold fields during the next two years and interest declined. My father secured employment with a company developing an airfield near Kampala. He subsequently worked for the Uganda Government. He remained in Kampala following his retirement, and died there in June 1970. I have many lasting impressions from the two years I spent as a boy at Terika in the Kakamega gold fields, learning with my family how to work hard and survive in difficult circumstances.
Car Stories My Father’s Buick
as Limuru. I remember him testing it to see if it would do 100 miles per hour on the straight road by Margaret Downey leading to the old Embakasi Airport. It did! When home from safari, Dad always went Heather Rooken-Smith and Edwin Maina to Nairobi in the morning. He parked the Buick both referred to Buick cars in colonial Kenya. My father Syd Downey owned two or three outside Ahmed Brothers on Delamere (now Kenyatta) Avenue with the windows wide open so it wouldn’t get too hot. T o m y consternation and sadness, he sold this elegant vehicle in 1974 for a ridiculously cheap price “because petrol was becoming so expensive.” The last time I saw KGY 9 was several years ago at a Concours d’Elegance and I wonder what has become of it since. Can any Old Africa readers Syd Downey’s Buick Invecta. tell me?
Buicks over the years. The one I remember best was a Buick Invecta, which he bought in 1958 or 1959 second-hand from the then-head of General Motors, who was leaving the country. This beautiful car was painted bright red with a metallic sliver roof. The front seat could take three people comfortably, seat belts not being required in those days. Being an American car, it was left hand drive. It had a V8 engine, power steering and automatic transmission. It was Dad’s pride and joy and he looked after it meticulously. The registration number was KGY 9. The Buick had very low clearance so Dad only drove it around Nairobi, or maybe as far
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Kenya’s Earliest Cars by John Wroe
In this issue of Old Africa Edith Outram, who came to Nairobi in 1905, states that Mr Ferries, Manager of B I Bank imported the first car to Nairobi. Is she correct? Does anyone know for sure? Vintage car collector John Wroe has researched early cars in Kenya and gives Old Africa this report: I believe the first car in Nairobi was a Swift imported in 1908 by the father of Mervyn Cowie, who instigated the formation of Kenya’s game issue No.34
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parks. Another contendor for the title was a 1908 Minerva owned by a Mr Campling. Nigel Pavitt’s photo book, Kenya, says the second car imported into Kenya was a three-wheel Tricar brought in by government surveyor Reginald Barton-Wright in 1904. However, in the 1970s Guy Bromley supposedly found a 1902 (or possibly 1909) single cylinder Rover with a wooden chassis. It was on a farm in Ruiru and belonged to Arthur Proctor. Arthur apparently gave it to Brian Smith, a previous chairman of the East African Vintage Car Club. Brian left Kenya in 1978 and gave the car to Roger Tanner to ship to the UK. The Galton-Fenzi’s 1925 Riley Redwing on its way from Nairobi to Mombasa, becoming the first car to make the journey by road. story goes that it was lost in transit. is B3 but the original number was 1188. Research Not many cars were imported in the early 1900s. However, we do know from suggests registration of cars started shortly after Bartle Bull’s book Safari that Lord Cranworth the formation of the REAAA in late 1919. Galtonimported a 15 HP Napier about 1909 in which he Fenzi accompanied by Captain Gethin followed organised Kenya’s first motorised hunting safari. the route from Kajiado to Moshi to Voi. They had to repair over 50 punctures in spite of wrapping the Sadly the book gives no details of the safari. Other early cars of note, which are still in tyres in one-quarter-inch thick leather gaiters. In 1924 six Willys Knight vehicles were the country, are the famous 1914 Ford Model T used by General Smuts in Taveta in 1916. Peter unpacked in Nairobi with custom made safari bodies and assembled locally for a filming Hughes now owns this car. The 1925 Riley Redwing that L D safari undertaken by Martin and Osa Johnson, Galton-Fenzi, founder of the Royal East African accompanied by Blaney Percival in his somewhat Automobile Association (REAAA), used to make clapped out Ford Model T largely held together the first trip by car from Nairobi to the coast, is now with bailing wire. A popular saying of the time owned by Charles Gitau. The current registration was: “Bits of tin and bits of board, nailed together make a Ford.” I have no doubt the Willys Knight cars were shipped back to the USA after the filming. Kenya’s vehicles from yesteryear carry a lot of the country’s history. It would be fantastic if someone researched and wrote a book on Kenya’s early cars.
This 1927/28 Rugby car belonged to John Wroe’s uncle, John Mackinlay. The car is parked outside Coila Mackinlay’s house on Belfield Lane (now Jabavu Lane in Hurlingham). Coila Mackinlay was John Mackinlay’s mother and John Wroe’s grandmother. She ran her house as a paying guest house for many years in the 1950s.
Growing up in Kisumu by Nitin Mehta
Growing Up In Kisumu
I hurled a rather big stone at the scooter, narrowly missing our schoolteacher who punished us by rapping our fingers with a foot-long ruler. When the scooter screeched to a stop, we schoolboys scattered. I was the youngest of three children born in an Indian family in Kisumu, Kenya. I started school in 1961 as a seven-yearold. The first day I walked to school with my dad, a distance of about three miles. My dad took me into the classroom and before leaving he said, “You know the way back don’t you? Anyway, just follow the other children and you will be all right.” I settled down in my chair and the teacher walked in. Miss Koli asked, “How many of you children brought your handkerchiefs with you?” All the children waved their handkerchiefs up in the air. I shyly pulled out a little piece of cloth my dad had given me. Ignoring all the other children the teacher walked over to me and examined the piece of cloth. “Good,” she said. “Tell your dad to fold the cloth on all four sides and sew it. Then you will have a nice handkerchief.” This was the first time I had heard anyone speak in English but somehow I understood every word of it. The school bell rang at 1 pm and all the children headed home. I followed the older children but after a little while thought maybe this was not the right way home. I vaguely remembered that if I turned left I would end up at the local cinema and from there I
knew how to get home. I began to walk in that direction but I couldn’t see the cinema. Worried, I began to run. To my great relief I found the cinema and from there I walked home. As I walked in, my dad said, “There you are! You are late, where did you get to?” I explained the road I had taken and my mum said, “In future just follow the children. It is much quicker!”
Nitin Mehta started school in Kisumu in 1961.
That evening I told my dad what the teacher had said about the handkerchief. He sat down at the big sewing machine, the type you push with your legs, and sewed the four corners of the handkerchief. The next day I proudly showed the handkerchief to my teacher. The Mysterious Holy Man There was a Hindu temple near the centre of Kisumu town where I lived. Every day at seven in the evening they held the main service or ‘Aarti’ as it was called. We children loved the Aarti because we were allowed to play the drums and ring the bells. At
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the end of the Aarti the food that had been offered to God would be given to the children. This was called ‘Prasad,’ mainly Indian sweets that we children loved to eat. Every so often a mysterious holy man turned up for the Aarti. He was a tall man with a very long beard and long black hair. He never spoke to anyone, but every time he came he offered an exotic fruit to anyone standing near him. I found out this man lived in the Hindu cemetery, located a few miles outside town and rumoured to have ghosts. The cemetery was also known for its fruit-bearing trees. One day my friends and I decided to go to the cemetery to pick the fruits from the trees. As we approached the cemetery, everything was silent. I offered to keep watch on the ground as my friends climbed the trees. The first of my friends began climbing a tree, but when he got half way up he slipped and fell down. Another of my friends tried to climb the tree but slipped in exactly the same place. A third attempt resulted in another slip in the same place. At this point we three boys looked at each other and screamed together, “Bhut!” which means ghost in Gujarati! We ran out of the cemetery as fast as we could and only looked back when we were out of the cemetery gates. As we looked back, we saw the holy man laughing hysterically! The Petrol Gangs I enjoyed Saturdays. First we had tuition from 10 am to 12 noon with a large teacher who was very strict. She taught around twelve children at a time. All the children had to know their multiplication A p r i l - M a y 2 0 11
tables. I memorised them parrot Before long I discovered I could that one day London would be fashion. Any child who got the speak the languages of each of my home where my children multiplication tables wrong these three cultures. However, would be born. Soon after meeting the would have his or her cheek although I often saw and spoke pinched hard and pulled at the to Indians and Africans, I had not Englishmen on safari, I had a same time! At around eleven yet met any English people. One new teacher at school. She was there would be a break for ten day a Land Rover turned up at my English and her name was Miss minutes and everybody had to go dad’s garage. Two men wearing Morris. Miss Morris had a painful to the toilet even if they did not khaki shorts got out of the car and form of punishment. She would want to! One Saturday I woke explained what was wrong with hit the children with a foot-long up late and hurried off without the car. As they waited for their ruler on their fingers. We did not having any breakfast. During car to be repaired, they began like this form of punishment and the break at eleven, Otieno, who to speak to me but I couldn’t decided to do something about worked in our home, turned up understand them. I was very it. Miss Morris used to get a lift home every day from a with a glass of hot milk in his teacher called Miss Sood hand. “Mama has sent this,” who used to ride a scooter. he said. “Kunywa, drink it!” One Friday afternoon we As all the other children boys lay in wait for the looked on, I drank the milk. scooter to pass. As it passed, I felt very small and worried we threw stones towards it. all the children would think None of the stones seemed I was such a sissy! to hit the target. However, After tuition I never went Miss Sood was so shocked, straight home. I met up she brought the scooter to with friends and we played a splattering halt! At this games in small narrow roads point I hurled a rather big called ‘Gullies’ in Gujarati. stone at the scooter. The Sometimes as we played we stone hit the rear of the met Petrol Gangs – African scooter narrowly missing children who roamed the Miss Morris’s bottom! streets and sucked petrol. The most feared deputy They demanded money or head master, Mr Patel, small gifts from my friends heard about the mischief and me. One Saturday and called some of the boys when the Petrol Gang again to his office. They all got turned up, I went to the a severe beating and they gang leader and offered were asked to call up others him some beautiful looking marbles. I shook hands Nitin Mehta was born in Kisumu and left for UK who were involved. For with him and said, pointing for further studies when he was 19 years old. After some unknown reason, graduating from London University in 1990 he they never called me up to myself, “Rafiki, friend!” joined the family business. Nitin is proud of his and I escaped punishment. From that day onwards the Petrol Gang never bothered African roots as well as his Hindu/Jain heritage. In After this event everyone my friends or me. When 1999 Nitin was awarded the MBE by the Queen of noticed that Miss Morris they did turn up, I would England in recognition of his meritorious services to never used the foot ruler the community. again! shake hands grandly with I still have fond memories of the Petrol Gang leader and we confused and I told the two men, behaved as if we were two wise “Pole Pole,” and then in English, growing up in Kenya in the days “Slowly, slowly!” The two men when there was no television, leaders. spoke more slowly and told me no telephones, no fridges, no First Encounters they had seen lions, elephants cookers and no services to fix With English People I grew up among three cultures and other wildlife on their safari. your car if it broke down in the – my own Indian culture, the I had never seen these animals middle of nowhere. Life was African culture and the British and I promised myself that one great fun! culture, because Kenya was part day I would. The men also spoke Nitin welcomes email contact at: of the Empire in those days. about London. Little did I know email@example.com.
Baby Encounters Python
Only in Africa...
land behind the hotel where he had been herding some of the Cormack’s livestock – mostly In l957 my husband Jobst calves and sheep. He had was building a boarding school bravely speared the python and at the small settlement of come running for help. We Chimala on the Great North abandoned our breakfast and road between Iringa and set off to look for the python Mbeya. At the time we lived – Jobst, Roma Cormack (the in Tukuyu, the Headquarters daughter of the hotel owners), of Rungwe District and about myself carrying Peter and the 70 miles from Chimala over a herd boy with a wheelbarrow to carry the dead python. On reaching the place where the herd boy had speared the python, we found the spear on the ground, but no snake. It had obviously shaken itself My son Peter next to the python, just loose. After before it came back to life! scouting around in the fairly thick mountainous, rather hair-raising bush we found the python half road, which dropped down way up a tree. Jobst got hold from the heights of the Poroto of a stick, beat the python to the Mountains at over 7000 feet ground and then beat its head to the Usangu plains at around quite severely. The python 3000 feet. Jobst sometimes appeared to be dead, so they had to spend two or three days lifted it up and coiled it into the at a time at Chimala. Friends of wheelbarrow and took it down ours, the Cormack family, ran a to the hotel. We stretched small hotel in Chimala, mostly it out on hotel’s driveway to catering for passing Great North measure it and I placed Peter road traffic. I occasionally took on the ground close beside our baby son, Peter, and went it and we took a photograph. with Jobst to stay at the hotel Just as we had finished taking the photo, the python suddenly in Chimala. One morning as we ate came to life and took off into breakfast at the hotel in Chimala, the nearby flowerbed, much a young herd boy ran in to say to everyone’s consternation! I there was a large python on the hastily snatched up my precious
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Africa. baby while someone hurriedly fetched a panga and cut off the python’s head. On his return, Keith Cormack, the son of the house, scathingly said we should never have considered the python to be dead until it had been decapitated! Liz de Leyser, Iringa
Crowned Heads of Europe
During the Second World War my father returned from army service and kept an eye on a neighbour’s small pyrethrum farm and their farmhouse as the owners were away. Towards the end of the war a group of people arrived from an unidentified war-torn country in Europe to stay in the farmhouse. We never discovered if they were refugees or detainees, but it was rumoured they were aristocrats if not actual royalty, and my parents referred to them as “The Crowned Heads of Europe.” My parents became acquainted with the said crowned heads when my father went down to check on the farm and the house. One day one of them approached my mother saying she was desperate for something to do. She was fluent in French and the school my sister and I attended badly needed a French teacher. After a few negotiations with the headmistress, we took Mademoiselle Athanasova with us up to St Georges at the beginning of term. Mademoiselle was smart and A p r i l - M a y 2 0 11
good-looking and became popular with us girls, and I daresay we learnt some French At the start of the following term Mademoiselle informed us with a smile that she was now Madame Weinzinger. On their next visit to the crowned heads my parents congratulated Mr Weinzinger, the new husband. He spread out his hands, and in his heavily accented English he made his memorable remark: “Nozzing else to do!” We n e v e r h e a r d w h a t happened to the crowned heads after the war ended. Probably they returned to the countries whence they came, leaving quite a colourful mystery in their wake. Margery Barnes, Naivasha
Aeroplane Tales Here are three amusing incidents going back to the old days of East African Airways and the Embakasi Airport. I am a Kenya Airways admirer and want to point out all three stories are on-the-ground, departure lounge stories, and should not reflect on our pilots or the cabin crew, generally accepted as among the best in the world. My wife and I and two small children arrived at Embakasi to catch a Viscount prop plane for a 24-hour flight to London, refuelling in North Africa. I didn’t have the key to open the boot of our Humber Super Snipe to get at our luggage. I tried prising open the boot, first with a screwdriver and later a tyre lever loaned by fellow passengers. Eventually the back of the car looked like a butterfly with wings half
extended, but I still couldn’t pull out the suitcases. I returned to Langata for the spare key and arrived back at the airport to hear the flight was just boarding. I hastily left the car to be collected by the driver, while my wife, two children and I ignored customs and rushed across the runway and climbed the mobile boarding staircase onto the thirty-seater narrow-bodied Viscount. As the seatbelt sign went out, my wife, sitting some seats ahead of me, turned to a friendly Singh and inquired what time the flight would land in London. He told her the flight was going to Sarajevo, not London! The second story. I was flying on my own from Nairobi to the Berlin trade fair in one of the early Jumbos. We had just lined up for take-off behind a Pan-Am plane going south, when a crying, screaming sound erupted from the rear of the aircraft. Most passengers thought somebody was having an epileptic fit. The aircraft did a U-turn and taxied back to the airport buildings. A mature American lady disembarked, escorted by the cabin crew, to wait for her baggage from the hold. She was still sobbing. Later we heard the full details of what had happened. The mature American lady in question had decided after boarding the plane that she could not bear the thought of leaving her safari driver with whom she had fallen madly in love. She insisted she be returned to the arms of this young man and become his third wife. She would not take no for an answer from the cabin crew, and informed them that if she could not disembark to be reunited with her lover, she would scream all the way to London! The above two stories are certified as true. This third
story is hearsay, but the very fact that most who heard it accepted it as true, means almost as much as it being true. It happened during the time East African Airways began Africanising their pilots on their internal flights. I would like to explain that the indigenous African pilots soon gained a reputation for excellence. A local flight was departing from Mombasa Airport bound for Nairobi. Being the height of the Christmas holiday season, the flight had been overbooked. A popular Kenyan government minister representing the Rift Valley province was told that because the flight was overbooked, it was a case of first come first served and he was in for a six hour wait for the next flight. At this stage he asked for permission to board the plane to say goodbye to a fellow minister. He walked down the aisle to the cockpit and asked one of the mzungu pilots to lend him his cap. The minister then strolled down the aisle in his blue suit and pilot’s cap. Over half the passengers, assuming they were looking at their captain, decided to get off and wait for a flight with a mzungu pilot. The minister returned the cap to the pilot and got a seat on the now-halfempty flight to Nairobi. Dick Hedges, Nairobi Do you have a short, funny or quirky story about something that happened in Africa? Send your contributions marked Only in Africa to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by post to Old Africa, Box 65, Kijabe - 00220 Kenya. Please limit stories for Only in Africa to 350 words or less. Include your name and address in case your story is published. We pay Ksh. 500/- for each published story. Sorry, we cannot return submissions to Only in Africa.
Burji Play Key Role in NFD: Part 2 T
by Woche Guyo
Burji Play Key Role in NFD: Part 2
he news that Moyale had solved its labour groups met at Merille and celebrated the completion and food problem soon reached the white of the road. Later, Bore and his group worked on the administration in Marsabit which, like Moyale, construction of the Marsabit-Loiyangelani road. After pacifying the district, making it ready was initially under KAR military rule. The officer to hand over to civilian administration, the KAR in charge requested the DC Moyale to send a few Burji farmers to Marsabit. The DC approached Guyo threw a big ‘Siku Kuu’ (celebration day). Bore still Mare who summoned the young men and told them remembers the party. Though normally the KAR men didn’t socialise with the Burji, the party made of the good offer to start farming in Marsabit. Bore Marsa, now in his late 90s, lives in Marsabit. them mingle together. Among the KAR troops He was among the first men who took up Guyo was a young Burji man, Daro Geldo, who later Mare’s challenge. Though blind, his memory is distinguished himself in the services of the British. The civilian administration took over in the 1920s good. He still remembers how they travelled on foot from Moyale to Marsabit. Armed with a letter from the DC Moyale carried in a cleft-stick, the few nomadic settlements they encountered along the way welcomed them as guests since they were the white Bwana’s special men. The villagers slaughtered goats for them and gave them guides to the next nomadic village. It took Bore and his group a week to walk to Marsabit. They had heard tales of Marsabit, a chilly place full of wild animals. Long before the advent of Menelik and the creation of colonial borders, young Burji men, who were skilled hunters, used to roam the area to hunt elephant and buffalo because the trophies they brought home added prestige to their names. Bore and his group were young and confident. They faced the unknown with the Hajj Shanko Konse shows the author where he was born full knowledge that they were under the white about 1938 in the original Manyatta Burji. The Burji were Bwana’s protection. evacuated when the settlement was in the direct line of fire from Bore and his group did not start farming Italian artillery. The area is now the Moyale Primary School. immediately. Instead they were absorbed into the labour pool, ‘the Bwana’s bagaza’ (pagazi, and the Burji took up their true calling as master Swahili for porters). Just as in Moyale, the local farmers when Bwana Shabi (H B Sharpe) gave pastoralists, the Borana, Gabra and here the Rendille them small plots to farm, about four acres in what as well, preferred to herd their animals. The Burji, later became the Karantina (Quarantine) settlement. so willing to work with their hands and so capable, By the time Bwana Shabi had left, the Burji had established themselves as farmers. They produced came in handy. When Bore and his group arrived in Marsabit, enough grain to feed the growing administrative they were first engaged in road construction and centre. Food was no longer imported from Meru. clearing around the government boma. They also The Burji had become an asset to the colonial dug wells. Some worked as cooks for the white government. All farms in Marsabit now have euphorbia officers. Bore and his group worked on the Marsabit-Isiolo hedges. Mzee Bore says the euphorbia shrubs were road. They worked halfway, to Merille, while the imported from Isiolo by Bwana Reess (Gerald Isiolo DC sent his Turkana/Meru gangs from his Reece). Bore was among the labourers who brought end. Bore says they worked with picks and other the first plants from Isiolo. Mzee Bore remembers several of his age-mates hand tools. The work was hard because between Logologo and Merille the ground was rocky. The two joined the Kenya Police in the 1920s — late Inspector
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Lio Shule, late Sgt Abdi Ali Balbalo, Cpl Jillo Sage. Woche Gula (aka Gulak Woche) joined the KAR and became a trumpeter. Their age-mate Woche Cuncale didn’t join the police or army because he was rich and ‘wore gold’, which is a mark of wealth for the Burji. Mzee Bore still remembers the age-mates’ song about their fortune. Gulak Woche gubabe, Nairobi tuntula gujissa, Woche Cuncale, worqi worata, Gulak Woche gubabe, Nairobi tuntula gufissa. Woche Gula the brave, he played the trumpet in Nairobi, Woche Cuncale wore gold. Woche Gula the brave, he played the trumpet in Nairobi. The Marsabit Burji also had a tough headman named Shanno Dawe. Shanno started life in Marsabit as a cook for a white police office. He was a shrewd man. He became a headman by default during the 1930s. The previous headman had not been active in collecting poll-tax. Shanno Dawe took it upon himself to collect the tax. Shanno would collect about 20/- from the Burji and take the whole amount to the white Bwana. He would take 3/- as his pay and leave the DC with 17/-. When asked about his odd behaviour, he said he was entitled to a wage. The Bwana was amused. The following year Shanno did the same. The year after he was appointed the official headman and played the same role that Guyo Mare played in Moyale. He supplied labour and kept law and order in his village. He also bargained for his people. He convinced the DC that the Burji brew, known as borde, made the workers work hard. So every household was allowed to brew a debe of borde. Shanno Dawe retired just before independence (December 1963). The following year Shifta insurgents assassinated him. From the Italo-Ethiopian War to Uhuru Mzee Nanne Shegge of Moyale had an impressive memory of the 1930s and 1940s. He was among the first Burji to be employed in the Native Civil Hospital The 1930s saw the replacement of the timber/ mud-walled buildings by stone buildings. Burji labour was in much demand. They worked as station-hands, syces, nurses, office boys, houseboys and askaris. Around 1935/1936 Mzee Nanne worked as a houseboy for the many askaris in Moyale. He earned 15/- a month. He also worked on road clearance after
the heavy rains. He worked on the Oda-Bulle-QalloKorondille-Dabel road and also on the MoyaleFunna Nyata-Waso-Dofate road. The work took about four months. By 1936 Italy had conquered Ethiopia. In Moyale and Marsabit the price of grain went up. The Burji began to make profits. A few began to think of setting up businesses, but the majority still worked for the colonial government. Nevertheless, the Provincial Commissioner wrote in his report for 1937, “Owing to the high prices paid for grain and the prosperity of the local Burji and kindred tribes, the traders in the township found it very hard to get labour locally… The Burji who in former years furnished most of the labour supply have prospered greatly during the Italo-Ethiopian conflict and are now so rich that they do not require to work.” That was rather an exaggeration; there were still many Burji hard at work, due to the potential threat posed by the Italians. Burji workmen constructed airstrips at Oda (Moyale) and Hoss-Mandul (Wajir). When the first planes appeared in the sky, there was fear and excitement in Moyale. The Borana called the planes sibiil waaq iir dema, the metal [thing] that goes in the sky. Soon after, Nanne told me, the Governor of Kenya came by road through Wajir. He inspected the airfields and other military installations. Ethiopia had been fully occupied by Italy and Nanne could feel the palpable tension of war in the air. The bustle of pre-war activity fully engaged the Burji labourers and a few Borana and Sakuye, who by then had decided to work for wages. Nanne landed a job in the Native Civil Hospital and was posted to Wajir. He proudly showed me his certificate of employment and poll-tax receipts kept neatly in a file. In Moyale, Manyatta Burji, the Burji area, was at first situated where the present Moyale Primary School is now located. When the Italo-British war broke out in 1941, Italy captured some British territory including the Korondille Hills and from there they bombarded Moyale town with artillery. Manyatta Burji was in the direct line of fire of the artillery. The Burji were evacuated to the present Manyatta Burji area around 1941. The original settlement was then called Gorro Dagamsa. Note on the author: Mwalimu Woche Guyo was, until his retirement a couple of years ago, a teacher at the Marsabit Boys Secondary School. In 2006 he received a small grant from the British Institute in Eastern Africa to enable him to do the research on the oral history of his people. This article and one which will appear in a succeeding issue is taken from his report, with only light editing to make it suitable for magazine articles.
w e i v e R Bo ok
Beyond Happy Valley An Autobiography
By Lorna Hindmarsh Reviewed by Ray Meynink The personal account of nearly 50 years spent in Kenya during the period 1936 to 1983.
his is the second edition of Lorna’s account of her life in Kenya from the end of the world depression in the 1930s, through the Second World War, the horror of the Mau Mau disturbances, then Independence. This edition has been published in paperback in Australia, where Lorna now lives, the first edition having been computer generated in A4 format and spirally bound and was for private distribution only. Lorna Thomson was born, the younger of twins, on 1st March 1916, a leap year, so already serendipity had taken a hand in her life – a birth a few hours earlier would have limited her birthdays to one every four years. Her father had a prosperous medical practice in Wimborne, Dorset, so Lorna started life in a privileged position in England during the middle of the First World War. At the end of the Edwardian era, the niceties of the existing social structure did not allow one to step out of one’s upbringing, as Lorna points out in her book, and she has always fought for what she wanted to do, rather than what she should do because of her sex, social position and standing. Lorna grew up loving animals, and yearned to participate in the boyish pursuits her brother did. When she was 16, her parents considered she was not academic enough to pass her School Certificated exams so her father enrolled her at the Bournemouth Polytechnic for a two year Domestic Science course, a much more gentile and lady like occupation that hopefully would end in a happy marriage, rather than “something with animals,” which was really what she wanted to do. Lorna enjoyed the practical aspects of the course and did well, but she still wanted to work with animals. She eventually persuaded her Father to allow her to attend Agriculture School to learn farming. She enjoyed
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the course and passed her exams. When Lorna finished the course, Dr Thomson could not afford to buy her a farm, but he did not like the idea of Lorna working on a farm in England. “Farming is for farmer’s daughters, not for Doctor’s daughters,” he said. Instead, he suggested a practical solution. Lorna should join her cousin Jack Lipscombe, on his Kinangop Farm in Kenya for two years to gain farming experience. In 1936 Lorna, aged 20, armed with a Diploma in Cheese and Butter making, made her journey to Kenya. As required in that era, Lorna was chaperoned on the voyage by the McCraes, friends of her cousin Jack. Jack and his wife Margo had a small 170-acre farm at the edge of the forest just under the Kinangop Mountain where Lorna soon settled in to learn more about dairy farming under the Jack’s tutelage. The Kinangop Plateau remained Lorna’s home for almost the next 30 years. There she met and married her husband, Hugh Hindmarsh. They bought a farm, built a home, raised a family and suffered from the austerity of the War years from 1939 to 1945. They met many friends and finally endured the trauma of the Mau Mau years. Lorna knew many of the Settler families living on the Kinangop and describes her life during this period with love and empathy, painting a compassionate picture of all those she came across, even the “infamous Happy Valley crowd,” which places her book far Beyond Happy Valley. Perhaps her Kikuyu name of Waceke, which means “a thin, polite and humble person,” indicates what her staff and other local people thought of her. When the trauma of Mau Mau ended, the Winds of Change started blowing and the Hindmarsh farm was purchased by the British Government along with all the Settler farms on the Kinangop for the creation of Settlement Schemes for reallocation to the local people. Ironically, that is why I came to Kenya as I had been recruited by the British Government to join the Survey of Kenya to assist in the survey of these Settlement Schemes for title purposes, but that is another story. Lorna and Hugh decided to accept the offer and purchase another issue No.34
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farm elsewhere in Kenya. They found a suitable farm at Njoro and relocated there. This turned out to be the farm originally owned by Charles Clutterbuck, Beryl Markham’s father, and used by him as a horse stud farm and racing stables. The eldest Hindmarsh daughter, Jean, had just married Terry O’Meara, who was also a Land Surveyor, so my wife Doreen and I became friendly with Jean through Terry at this time. I can well remember the discussions with Terry about the proposed move to Njoro, and the work that needed to be done on the Clutterbuck farmhouse to make it habitable. We began visiting Lorna with Jean and Terry, spending weekends at the farm, frequently staying in the self-contained cottage that had been built for Beryl Markham. Hugh died in 1972. Over the next few years Lorna, as well as running her small-scale farm, became interested in using the fleece from the sheep she bred on the farm. They raised sheep mainly for meat, so the fleece was full of kemp and not particularly suitable for spinning as knitting yarn or for weaving, but Lorna persevered. First she tried to spin the wool with a drop spindle, and then she got a spinning wheel. It turned out to be an ornamental wheel, not one that worked well. After modification it produced a yarn of sorts, but it was not easy to use. We found a practical wheel in kit form made in New Zealand, called an Ashford, which we ordered and eventually got to Kenya. When assembled this worked extremely well and produced excellent yarn, but not from Lorna’s original sheep. She had to buy the proper graded fleece from the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA). Lorna’s idea went from strength to strength. More Ashford wheels were imported, more spinners trained, carders (for preparing the fleece for spinning) were obtained and Leocraft was born. Heddle looms were found from various sources, and used
to weave simple fabrics with the hand-spun wool. Basic frame looms were made for rug weaving, using the coarser wool spun by the workers on the drop spindles, and Lorna started researching and experimenting with traditional plant and insect dyes (both international and Kenyan). Her research was very thorough and properly recorded and included extensive fade tests. This knowledge inspired her to write her first book on natural dyes, A Notebook for Kenyan Dyers, which she illustrated with a number of pencil drawings of the plants used. Later, when she moved to Western Australia to be with her other daughters, she wrote her second book on plant dyeing, A Notebook for Western Australian Dyers. She is also researching a book on dyeing using the leaves and bark of the multitude of Australian eucalypti species, which she may well have published by now. Leocraft became bigger and better and well known in the craft community throughout Kenya, but several factors caused Lorna to think seriously about leaving Kenya to join her other three daughters in Australia. Robbers attacked her in 1979, the scene that opens this book. Then the wooden Clutterbuck farmhouse burned down over Christmas 1981, destroying most of her personal possessions. The house was rebuilt but was never the same again. Lorna obtained the necessary visa for Australia and left Kenya in September 1983 for a new life in Australia. This second edition is a properly printed and bound book, with all the typographical errors corrected. My only criticism is that the photographs in the second edition have been reduced in size, and none of them are in colour, presumably because of cost. Having both editions, the earlier photographs are larger and much clearer and those in colour truly show the wonderful colours Lorna has produced with her plant dyeing experiments.
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story Part 13 Farming Developments by John W Etherington
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story part 13
John Westall Etherington POWs, labour shortage ham- dertaking and wasn’t completed came to Kenya from England in pered further expansion. We sent until three years later after the 1920 and settled on the Kinan- about eighty gallons of milk to Italians had departed. They did gop. In 1930 John married Féy Nairobi daily and this increased finish the random rubble stoneNightingale. During World War to over one hundred gallons after work and dressed stone window surrounds. I had grave doubts II John served in the NFD and the rains broke in April. Billy Ray, Féy’s cousin, mar- during the building process, but then the Indian Ocean before returning to Kenya. The story ried Ted Nightingale, a Provincial my wife had the heart of a lion Governor from the Sudan, on and infectious enthusiasm. We continues… 1944 In January 1944 Ray- 7th May 1944 at Tulaga. It was a lived in this house for fifteen years and entertained a number mond Hook of Nanyuki bought wonderfully happy event. of notable people, including two In 1944 I was elected to the our flock of nutria (Myocastor Coypus). Our nutria venture Pyrethrum Board, a post I held governors. The architect had specified was one of our failures. We had for ten years. I was also a membought the breeding stock shortly ber of the Naivasha District Dutch tiles for the roof and these were unprocurable in East before the War. They were very Council. In 1945 with the war ending, Africa. So we studied tile makexpensive and the market for the ing, visiting various fur was in Central tile works to acquire Europe. Nutria are know‑how. One Italinteresting, beaverian was put on to like creatures that can the job and he spent swim like fish, climb months experimentlike monkeys, buring with the varirow like moles, bite ous clays available like wolves and have on the property. We cannibalistic tendenfinally started the excies. But they can be perimental manufactamed - at least by ture of roofing tiles, Féy who loved them eventually making dearly. We had great sufficient not only difficulty enclosing for the roof of our them. They did well house, but also for physically, but owing to the war we had Our Italian POW labour force who finished the random rubble stone- the new local church and for several houses nowhere to market work and dressed stone window surrounds of our new house. around the country. the fur. Eventually we There was a good demand and sold all our 100 or so pelts to a Féy and I decided to cash in on Johannesburg furrier who then the skills of the Italian craftsmen it seemed a reasonable enterprise, we had engaged (quite unwit- so we floated a private company, vamoosed and never paid us! Unfortunately, some nutria es- tingly ‑ they were just allocated Tangent Ltd, managed by Rudi caped from Raymond’s place and ‘out of the bag’). We hired E May, and Erica Schumacher, to make a colony established themselves an architect practising in Nairobi, tiles commercially. After much to design a house for us. We effort and expenditure the thing in Lake Naivasha. We had a good harvest in chose an attractive design with flopped. Kikuyu workers didn’t 1944 ‑ even the pyrethrum pick- five bedrooms, a large dining like working with clay. Luo ing, usually abruptly terminated room and lounge. In hindsight, workers liked working with clay by early frosts, continued well the house was too large. Our but didn’t like the cold Kinaninto the New Year. Despite the Italian men started the work, gop. We found it difficult to dry employment of a dozen Italian but it proved to be a major un- clay tiles sufficiently for firing
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during the wet months and Rudi could not get up in the morning, a cardinal sin in my eyes! After a flaming row the Schumachers moved over to Njabini and opened a successful garage. We eventually sold the Tangent house and small property as a farm. 1945 found me busy with Naivasha District Council difficulties, finding flooring for our house, getting the pyrethrum picked and getting the lorry stuck in the mud. On 30th June I shot a zebra for the Italians. I also made an unsuccessful safari to Meru to recruit labour and started the new 3KW Lister Diesel for the first time. (It was still running twenty‑five years later!) About this time a reporter, A W Parsons, and photographer Victor Ostrowski visited us. Parade Magazine had commissioned them to write an article on the life of an ex-service man making a new life in the Colonies. The article was published in the November 17th issue of Parade. In 1947 we had the highest rainfall since the year of our marriage in 1930. All the district roads were impassable or washed away. I had to use my horse for personal transport over the twenty miles to Naivasha. On 23rd August 1947 Féy and I went to Njoro for Venn Féy’s marriage to Beth Dawson. We took the children and during the wedding Field fainted and fell over backwards off his bench! We experienced increasing prosperity on the farm in the late 1940s. We had the dairy, various cereal crops (we had 700 acres under cultivation), pigs, pyrethrum and an eleven acre apple orchard. We began to worry about the children’s future schooling. All three were still at Greensteds School, Nakuru, and Nancy was doing quite well. We liked the people, especially ‘Grinny’ who knew intimately (and remem-
bered) every child that had ever been there. But we wanted the children to get the best education possible. We finally decided to move the children ‑ Nancy to the Loreto Convent and Field and Dan to St Mary’s School - two Catholic schools adjacent to each other just outside Nairobi with very good teaching records. The Headmaster of St Mary’s told us after their first term that the two boys were about a year behind their age group, and this was confirmed when Field failed his Marlborough common entrance. We were determined the boys must go to an English Public School and time was running out. In August 1948 when Field was thirteen-and-a-half I took him home by air via Kisumu leaving the unfortunate Féy to run the farm (which, incidentally, she did extremely well). I got Field into Edgarley Hall preparatory school. Field attended for a year. Teaching was tough and concentrated, but they did learn! Field passed successfully into Felsted in Essex at fourteenand-a-half. Dan followed Field to Edgarley until he too passed into Felsted. During their schooling in England, Field and Dan spent most of their holidays with my sister Marjory and her husband Hugh Mullins. We organised things so Féy and/or I flew home for one holiday period each year, or the boys came out to Kenya. By mid-1950 we had nearly 1000 head of dairy and beef cattle, 700 acres under cultivation, most of it in fenced fields, including 150 acres of pyrethrum. We sent an average of 200 gallons of milk daily to Nairobi. And we had a large herd of pigs and the orchard. Féy was president of the East African Women’s League (EAWL). I was involved in District Council affairs, the Pyrethrum Board and the Horticul-
tural Co‑op Union, so we were fully extended. Bruce Douglas started to work for us in March 1950 after being with his uncle, farming near Eldoret, for the previous six months. A rather brash and dogmatic young man, he was very skilful with his hands and did some excellent work repairing the farm machinery. Later Bruce started his own farm in the middle of the Kinangop plateau with some help from us and made a success of it. Another chap we helped to get started at this time was Filip Grimwood, who bought an interesting farm backing on to the Bamboo Forest a mile or two beyond Hugh Nightingale’s ‘Carnell.’ An Englishman with a fine war record, he came from Ceylon where he had been a tea planter before the war. He bought some cows from us in May 1950. Later Filip Grimwood married Nan Hoddell on 22nd June 1951 In August 1950 I noted in my diary: “...weather excessively cold!” The Kinangop climate was cold-temperate, especially in July and August, when the apple trees lost their leaves without any chemical assistance. We had great wood fires every night of the year: relaxing in the inglenook by the great fireplace in the sitting room after a day’s work was one of the joys of existence. In January 1951 we paid a cash bonus to the farm labour based on the 1950 production. I cannot remember for how many years we continued to pay a cash bonus, but I can remember we abandoned it eventually when, after a bad year, we had a strike on our hands because we couldn’t afford a handout! We had to prepare for special guests when the Governor of Mozambique came to lunch on the farm in October 1951 escorted by the Kenya Chief Secretary. To be continued…
Historic Photo Contest
Historic Photo Contest
Kat Adcock (nee Kirwan) is the winner of this month’s Historic Photo Contest. She sent in this photo of her Grandmother Ethel Kirwan with four of her children taken on Christmas Day 1920 in Fort Portal Uganda. The children in the photo are Jack Kirwan (Kat Adcock’s father), Kathleen Kirwan, Brian Kirwan and Dreida Kirwan. Kat will receive a one year subscription to Old Africa magazine. Kat’s mother was born and brought up in Tromso, Norway. Her uncle went to Kenya at the beginning of the 1900s and set up a sawmill on Mt Elgon near Kitale. Two of her mother’s brothers went to visit their uncle and stayed. Her mother and one sister went to visit their brothers in about 1925 or 1926 and also stayed. Then a third sister went out. And the rest is history.
Christmas Day 1920, Fort Portal, Uganda
Enter Old Africa’s Historic Photo Contest!
Enter your best historic photo of East Africa in our photo contest for a chance to win a free 16X20 enlargement of the image of your choice from Spectrum Colour Lab in Nairobi. (Overseas winners will receive an alternate prize of a one-year free subscription to Old Africa.) This photo contest is sponsored by
Spectrum Colour Lab off Waiyaki Way in Nairobi.
Entry Rules: There are three ways to enter. 1. Bring your photo by hand to Spectrum Colour Lab in Nairobi. 2. Scan and send your photo as an email attachment to email@example.com. Scans should be jpeg format at 300 dpi resolution only. 3. Mail your photo to Old Africa, Box 65, Kijabe-00220, Kenya. If sending by mail, have a professional copy made and send the copy to Old Africa. Include as many details as possible: Name of the photographer; subject; year the photograph was taken; where the photograph was taken. The winning photograph will be featured in the June-July 2011 issue of Old Africa. Contest Deadline: Contest entries must reach Spectrum Colour Lab or Old Africa by April 30, 2011, to be considered for judging.
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An African Hunter Remembers Part 13 Nairobi Memories by Mrs Edith Outram
Mulga, George Outram, told his story of working for the Anglo-German border commission in about 1902. A newspaper cutting dated by George Outram as December 18th, 1904, fills in some details of his life: “At a cricket match played between the Settlers and Hillites at Nairobi the performance of Mr G. Outram is worthy of mention. The night previous Mr Outram set out from Nairobi at 8 o’clock in search of a gentleman who was reported lost and famishing. He found the missing one, returned to Nairobi after covering 50 miles “per boot”, and after luncheon sauntered quietly to the grounds, took 8 wickets for 32 runs against a really good team, and also added double figures to the settlers’ score. “For two years Mr Outram has conscientiously fulfilled the duties of Inspector to the Municipality of Nairobi. At the end of this month he leaves the service, and will be missed by both whites and Indians, for different reasons however. We believe that Mr Outram is going on a prospection tour, but his objective is unknown.” George must have left Kenya because he returned with his wife Edith and son James. Edith Outram writes about their arrival in Nairobi
An African Hunter Remembers
only four more shops and a dentist who lived in a small house next to a Dr Grice. Later on Mr and Mrs Stanley opened a chemist shop. Gailey & Roberts was a very small shop in those days managed by Mrs Roberts as Mr Roberts was out putting up telephone lines, with Mr Gailey away building bridges. Mrs Elliot’s small bakery stood on the corner of Government Road and 3, River Road. She ran the shop by herself, baking bread and cakes, and had four small tables in the front for a small tearoom. Next came the old Commercial Hotel run by Harry Flynn. The Norfolk was then under construction. By Ainsworth Bridge there were several Indian grocers and shops selling dress materials and ribbons, etc. One shopkeeper, Mr Dias, refused money when I went to buy ribbons, and instead asked me to open an account. He was eager to have established customers. Nairobi had no electricity in those days and all the streets were lit by hurricane lamps. Everything was cheap then and one could buy a small leg of mutton for one rupee (sh. 1/4d), and £20 (twenty pounds) a month was considered a fair wage for a man. Whilst staying at the hotel, we heard about a concert and a dance at the Old Railway Institute. George and our baby son, James, Entrance was the large sum of two rupees per and I, arrived in Kenya on 10th head. So off we went but when we arrived we March, 1905. We travelled from Mombasa to found, to our horror, everyone in full evening Nairobi on the train, which ran only once a week. dress! My mother had asked where on earth George However, we were somewhat relieved when was taking me now, as Nairobi was not on the a man, similarly attired as ourselves, came up to map in 1905! George, shook him by the hand and exclaimed, The wet season had started in Kenya. In “Shake hands – thank God there is another Nairobi we went to the Masonic Hotel, one of sensible chap not wearing heavy evening only two hotels in Victoria Street, the other being clothes.” We met some very nice people, mostly the Old Stanley. A New Zealand family, Mr and settlers, and soon discovered Government Mrs Jack Rayne and his sister Mary, owned the officials and settlers did not mix. We often Masonic, a double-storied wooden building, with met both types at the Institute dances, and the verandas running round both top and ground Government set danced at one end of the room, floors. They asked which dining room I would with the settlers at the other. prefer to have lunch in – the Government or Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast! Settlers. I knew nothing of either at the time, so Later on, we became friendly with a Mr and I said “Oh, the Settlers.” They took us into a large Mrs Biffer. He was the Station Master, and room and gave us an excellent lunch. The hotel Mrs Biffer told me it wasn’t done to go into the had a grocers shop and a tailor attached. kitchen, although one morning, when she had Further up Government Road, there were to visit the kitchen because breakfast was late,
– we had roast chicken, Canadian wonder beans and roast potatoes. I provided the Christmas pudding and borrowed a white shirt from Jim Egan to boil it in. Later on we had dancing on the lawn, with some of the men acting as lady partners. What great fun it was in those early happy days. Talking of shirts, Jim’s mother sent him two red flannel ones for Christmas to protect him from the cold at the time of year when Kenya’s sun was at its hottest. Jim Egan was a bachelor and had no one to supervise his house. He once told his “boy” to cook two pigeons for his supper and when the birds were brought in, they had been boiled, feathers and all!
An African Hunter Remembers
she found the mpishi sitting on the floor, with a side of bacon between his feet, slicing off the rashers for their meal! Another time friends from Manchester, Mr and Mrs Rouse, invited us for dinner and we had two very nice roasted fowls. However, she said the cook apparently plucked the feathers off the birds whilst they were still alive. Eggs were plentiful, but small, resulting in our having three eggs apiece for breakfast. When we lived in Crooked Lane, after leaving the hotel, the African egg sellers came round with their wares and we could buy 60 eggs for a rupee. One particular egg seller wore only a red blanket tied up in a knot on his left shoulder. One day our dog did not take kindly to him and rushed up, caught the corner of the blanket in its teeth, and removed his only garment. The boy fled down the road, leaving the 60 eggs, and the money he should have received, poor chap.
Statue of Queen Victoria The Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Lady Pat came out to unveil a statue of the Duke’s mother, Queen Victoria. Nairobi’s streets were beautifully decorated. The Indian Community arranged their own streets and others, amongst them the New Zealanders and the British, put up their own flags and arches. George and Edith Outram with their three children, Jim, Syd and Edie. George was in charge of the Australian decorations, and he decorated a rickshaw with green and Race Meeting gold ribbons as it was the 17th of March and St We attended our first race meeting at the old Patrick’s Day, and also Lady Patricia’s birthday. racecourse. We had heard Lady Delamere was Great crowds greeted them at the station and a to attend, so we put on our best bib and tucker burst of cheering went up as their train drew to meet Her Ladyship. During the Steeplechase in. They had a bicycle escort and the riders wore Race, the Hon G Cole, Lady Delamere’s brother, green shamrock badges on their arms. One of the was thrown and she ran across the course to see escorts was Colonel Grogan, a very handsome if he was injured. To our astonishment, she was wearing ordinary khaki riding dress, whilst we young man. were dressed in our party finery. Red Flannel Shirts, Feathers and all Our original idea of getting a coffee farm Winston Churchill In 1907 we had the pleasure of seeing Mr materialised and George went into partnership with a very nice Australian named Jim Egan. We Winston Churchill riding down Government had a lovely Christmas that first year on the farm. Road. After he had passed, we decided to have My friend Addie Skelton and I were the only two tea in a new tearoom. To our surprise, Churchill women in the party of fifteen men. We did all the suddenly appeared in the room on his horse! cooking for dinner outside in great pots and pans He jumped a few tables and rode out again! A 3 0 . . . . . . S t o r i e s f ro m E a s t A f r i c a ’s p a s t
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very dashing young man and full of devilment was he. Many years later I wrote to Sir Winston Churchill and said how sorry I was to hear he had broken his thigh and wished him a speedy recovery. I mentioned that I had a similar accident a few years earlier and the last time I had seen him was on a horse in a Nairobi tearoom. He kindly replied, and in his letter said he was sorry to hear of my accident and also sorry that the last time I had seen him he had behaved so wildly.
Donkeys, dogcarts and rickshaws George gave me a Muscat donkey which we named Sultan and this animal would trot at 7 to 8 miles an hour. On one occasion, coming home from the races, the donkey overtook the Governor’s carriage. The Governor’s ADC told us to hold him back in future. Lady McMillan had given me a little English dogcart in which the children and I went out for drives with Sultan between the shafts. After a few years in East Africa, the three children (Jim, Syd and Edie) and I went back to England for King George V’s coronation. I had to leave my dear Sultan. On many occasions Sultan used to leave the stable and come down to the veranda, where he beat three times on the floor with his hoof, his signal for me to bring sugar lumps. I am very sorry to say that whilst we were in England, Sultan fell prey to a lion. Mr Ferries, Manager of B I Bank, brought the first car to Nairobi. Before that, the only transport was by rickshaw. George had brought me a rickshaw from Japan. It was very useful to go shopping in, but I had a hard time getting someone to pull it. One of men who worked in our yard agreed, but the other workers called him punda milia!
Historic Worship Sites
St Francis, Karen
by Juliet Barnes
Historic Worship Sites
n the 1920s a Danish syndicate owned 5,000 acres along both sides of the Nairobi-Ngong road, including the corner where today’s St Francis Church stands. Baron and Baroness von Blixen were shareholders. Karen Blixen fell in love with Africa and wrote eloquently about her life trying (and failing) to farm coffee at the foot of the Ngong Hills. But her husband left, after infecting her with syphilis, her lover was killed in a plane crash, and eventually Karen went back to her native Denmark where she continued to write nostalgically about Kenya. Although a spiritual person, Karen Blixen had controversial views on Christianity. She wrote to her brother Thomas Dinesen: “Proof that the influence of the missionaries is very bad is the fact that no one will accept a worker from the mission schools; everyone says they lie and steal. However did Christianity come to acquire so much power - since it is, and is acknowledged to be, unworkable?” When Karen Blixen left in 1931, finally defeated by locusts, drought, broken dreams and a broken heart, her farm was divided up into plots and sold for between £15 and £32 an acre. An August 1936 brochure tells prospective buyers: “Those who think that Kenya is one of the very remote portions of the earth should learn that it is possible to leave Ngong on Monday by Imperial Airways and arrive in London on the following Saturday.” An 18-hole golf course was under construction and building costs were estimated at nine shillings per square foot for a stone house with a tiled roof. In 1938 the Low family came to live on one of the plots. Mrs E M Low’s memories are recorded in the Pioneer Scrapbook: “There was nowhere that we and our neighbours could meet for worship,” she wrote, “so my husband built a small thatched church in our garden. When the building was finished the squirrels took possession, so we called it the Church of St Francis.” Her husband, who became Archdeacon Low, also built today’s St Francis church from stone with a tiled roof.
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In the 1970s I attended the annual St Francis ‘animal service’ - Heaven for us kids as we had plenty to look at during the sermon. This was held under the trees and people brought their pets. While the vicar preached and the choir sang the prayer of St Francis, an astonishing mix of dogs, cats, ponies, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats and a cheetah (courtesy of the animal orphanage) got on with their own business - hence the outdoor venue - but generally behaved beautifully. I took a tortoise that didn’t fight, scratch, spit or kick, nor attempt to eat fellow worshippers. St Francis church is still well used today. In addition there’s now a Church Hall and garden of remembrance. Although St Francis provides a patch of tranquillity amongst ever-expanding shopping
St Francis Church in Karen.
centres and housing estates, it’s hard to imagine that 70 years ago it was forest crawling with leopard, lion, rhino and buffalo. Karen Blixen probably rode her horse over what is now the church, little knowing the area would retain her name. Nine years after the Baroness departed, the Broughtons arrived and rented a house in Marula Lane for £15 a month. Broughton’s young wife, Diana, embarked on her famous affair with Lord Erroll, which dramatically climaxed in his murder. At dawn on 24th January 1941 two dairy workers noticed Erroll’s hired Buick in a ditch near the corner of the link road beside St Francis. His body was found in the foot well. Nobody ever solved that murder. If churches could talk, perhaps St Francis could tell us something new. But like a vow, silence on the matter prevails. issue No.34
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Arya Samaj Worship Sites in Nairobi
by Neera Kapur-Dromson
though many Arya Samaji homes continued to have an icon. By 1916 the movement had grown strong enough to build a stone temple and a girls’ school. Over the years, no fewer than three new Arya Samaj centres were created in the Nairobi area: in 1963 a large complex was started in the Parklands area, in 1966 a Vedic temple was opened in Nairobi South ‘C’ and in 1967 another one on Juja Road. The old Fort Hall Red temple was demolished. The centres were not only prayer halls; they also incorporated rest houses and schools. Much of the money to finance these buildings came from contributions from members and various wealthy Arya Samaj industrialists like Seth Nanji Kalidas Mehta. He donated the plot of land for the Parklands Arya Samaj. However, both Muslims and orthodox Hindus opposed the Arya Samaj movement; it was also seen as political and anti-British. Several individuals of the faith gave their support to the freedom struggle for Kenya from British rule. Individuals like G L Vidyarthi were imprisoned several times for publications of ‘seditious literature’ through their Jaluo, Gikuyu and Swahili newspapers and books. Over the years, members were arrested for treason, others sentenced to be hanged (most were later reprieved).
n the late 1890s, a new wave of educated Punjabi Hindu pioneers came to Kenya, among them Lalchand Sharma, Mahashya Badrinath, Mathura Dass, Inder Singh and Baisakhi Ram. As members of the intellectual Vedic revival movement called the Arya Samaj, they devoted much of their time to prachar (missionary work). Conscious of political rights as a result of the independence movement in India, they came to the British colony equipped with a stronger sense of cultural and national pride. On 5th July 1903, 45 Arya Samaji men got together to sow the seeds of Arya Samaj in Nairobi with a call for “Return to the Vedas.” Essentially Hindu, the reformist ideology appealed to those grasping for new consciousness in the charged politico-cultural climate. Cut off from their cultural roots in India, facing rapidly growing Christian influences as well as rivalry from orthodox Hindu sects, the Arya Samaj strived hard for its faith to thrive. Militancy became characteristic of the earlier activities of the Arya Samaj. Performing the havan, fire ritual, while chanting mantras from the Vedas, as well discrediting the idol worship became some of the movement’s founding principles. They also lifted up the status of women and educating women became fundamental. The Arya Samaj led in the field of Indian girls’ education in Nairobi. Bibliography: Through Open Doors, Cynthia Starting with classes taught in homes, the Arya Salvadori and From Jhelum to Tana by Neera Kanya Pathshala was constructed in 1910. Kapur-Dromson. This became the renaissance movement among the Hindus. The Sanatan Dharam claimed the majority of the simple Hindu Punjabi believers in early Nairobi, but the Arya Samaji members spread their faith with zeal. In September 1903 they laid the foundation for a building where they could meet. This date marked regular anniversary celebrations in Nairobi. The new Arya Samaj temple in Nairobi was austere – a plain hall with a havan kund (fire altar) in the middle. The prayer hall housed no idols. The Arya Samaj temple in Nairobi was austere. It stood next to the BarThe simple fire ceremony clays Bank Queensway branch building. This photo dates from the late slowly caught on, even 1920s or early 1930s. Photo courtesy Akbar Hussein.
History Mystery Contest
Win a Ksh 3000/- gift certificate from Text Book Centre by identifying our mystery location! Where is this house and who built it? Who lived in it? when was it built? What is the building used for today? Have you ever been to this place? If so, include your story with your entry. Contest Deadline: For this prize we have to receive your entry by April 30, 2011. Send your answer to this History Mystery contest along with any story you may have to: History Mystery Contest, Old Africa Magazine, Box 65, Kijabe, Kenya 00220 Or email your answer to: editorial@oldafricamagazine. com. Editors will choose the winning entry. The answer to our mystery contest will be announced in our next issue along with the name of the winner
and his or her story about our mystery location. Be sure to include your P.O. Box and telephone contacts so we can inform the winner and tell him or her where to collect the prize. Family members of Old Africa staff members are ineligible to enter this contest.
Our History Mystery Contest is sponsored by Text Book Centre.
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History Mystery Contest Winner
e had no winner for our History Mystery Contest in our February-March issue. The photos showed the mysterious tombs of Ishakane on the coast close to the border of Kenya and Somalia. Frequent contributor, Cynthia Salvadori, encouraged her friend Yony Waite to send the photos to Old Africa for our contest. Here is a brief explanation of the tombs gleaned from an article Cynthia wrote some years ago for Safari magazine. It seems Ishakane was one of the many commercial centres that sprung up on the coast of East Africa under the impetus of the Arab trade during the first half of this millennium. What makes the tombs unique are the stone carvings, which are geometric, not floral like most coastal decorative design. Secondly, the carvings are assymetrical, unlike any of the few geometric designs that exist. Thirdly, at least two of the carvings seem to show a human figure, alien to Muslim art in general and totally unkown elsewhere on the East African coast.
The unique geometric carvings on the Ishakane tombs
Mystery Hole Explained!
ur December History Mystery Contest of a well-type structure didn’t bring any correct answers at the time. Since then, two people have contacted Old Africa with information on our mystery hole. The first came from Lu Wedd of Naivasha. He wrote: “Some years ago I drove up into the Mau with Jim Nightingale, John Cherry, Geoff Nightingale and others. Jim took us up past their house at Njoro over the railway line, through a plantation of cedar forest to a glade at the top of the Mau. After a short walk Jim pointed out a well very similar to that shown in editions 32 and 33 of Old Africa. “Jim explained that the purpose of these wells was to drain water from the marsh areas at the top of the Mau down into a pipeline that served farms in the Njoro/Menengai area. The wells were all interconnected by tunnels. At some point the water ended up at a collection point on the Rift Valley side of the Mau and fed into the water supply. A map of the topography of the Mau shows that nearly all the rivers, with the exception of a few north of Elburgon, flow west into Lake Victoria and nothing into the Rift Valley.” Soon after, Geoff Nightingale wrote to us:
“I can enlighten you on the well-like structure in the Marioshoni swamp above Elburgon. The hole is a shaft about 100 feet deep with a steel ladder to the bottom, where there is a large chamber to one side of the shaft accessed by a very short, high tunnel. “In this large chamber there are several lateral boreholes, possibly seven or more, drilled to tap the infiltration of water from the Marioshoni swamp above. Each borehole consists of a steel pipe, about three inches in diameter with a gate valve to release or close the water. From the bottom of the shaft in the opposite direction to the borehole chamber is a red-brick lined tunnel, about six feet in diameter, running horizontally for a mile or so until it emerges from the ground on a level with the Rongai River. “In the 1930s, I think, Lord Delamere owned large tracts of land between Njoro and Menengai, which he wished to subdivide into smaller farms suitable for European farm settlement. To do this he had to supply water to each of the subdivisions. He therefore built the original Rongai Pipeline Scheme by building a small weir on the Rongai River in the forest near the Elburgon Forest Station. This formed
the inlet to the Rongai Pipeline, from where allowed the underground water reservoir below water flowed by gravity down to the plains. the swamp to replenish itself. “My father and I, and I think my brother His scheme also involved a road alongside the pipeline, off which the new farms were Bruce, have been down into the chamber, demarcated. This is still known as the ‘Pipeline originally via the steel ladders, and then from Road’ - the D318 and D369 from Kenana Farm the Rongai River through the tunnel, back in the (Kembu Campsite) Njoro, to Menengai Station, 1960s and early 1970s. Then in the early 1980s a crossing the main Eldoret road at the junction consultancy firm called Cowiconsult contacted me. They were devising a new water scheme to now called ‘Sobea.’ “Sometime in the late 1940s, I suspect, supply the Rongai/Menengai area. The existing the Rongai Pipeline scheme was enlarged, Rongai Pipeline proved inadequate for the huge with two extra pipelines installed, parallel to increase in settlement. I took the consultant and about two kilometres either side of the to the shaft in the Marioshoni swamp and we original pipeline. This required a lot more descended into the borehole chamber. We found water from the Rongai River, which affected that at some stage between my last visit and the downstream flow in the dry season. They this one, the boreholes must have been opened created the extremely clever underground lateral borehole system to supplement the river flow in the dry season. “Freddie Blackwood, who came to Kenya in 1950 to Rongai, recalls his uncle, Arthur Dudgeon, a mining graduate who then farmed in lower Elburgon/ Rongai, having to visit this new clever borehole/ tunnel system in the forest fairly regularly. This leads me to surmise that Arthur Dudgeon probably built and operated the scheme, which was definitely operational in 1950 when Freddie arrived. Dudgeon may have done this in conjunction with P Both Lu Wedd and Geoff Nightingale sent in G Thorne, another Rongai information about our mystery hole near Marioshoni. farmer. I believe the control of the Rongai Pipeline may have been transferred and never closed off again. This had drained to the Government sometime in the mid 1950s. the reservoir below the swamp, and the pipes Certainly by the time our family moved from the were not flowing. This was a tragedy, probably Kinangop to Njoro in 1963, it was Government brought about by changes of personnel in the Ministry of Water during the 1970s where the operated, and pretty efficiently too. “When the flow of the Rongai River reduced instructions to control the Marioshoni boreholes to a certain level, carefully measured in those probably got lost or were not passed on. “Cowiconsult proposed that the Marioshoni colonial days, a technician would climb down the Marioshoni shaft (probably Arthur Boreholes be resurrected as part of their overall Dudgeon), to the borehole chamber, and open scheme, but the government did not accept up the gate-valves to release the borehole water their plan. I wonder whether through your into the tunnel, along which it would flow to magazine and the Ministries of Tourism and meet up with and supplement the Rongai River. Water Development, we couldn’t get action to The gate valves could be adjusted according resurrect the boreholes, shaft and tunnel and to the measured flow of the Rongai River, and render them safe as a tourist attraction and when the rains came and the river was in spate, renewable water supply.” the borehole valves would be closed, which 3 6 . . . . . . S t o r i e s f ro m E a s t A f r i c a ’s p a s t
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Old Africa photo The photos in this month’s Photo Album all come from 1 Ursula Brenneisen (nee Epprecht) from Mombasa. She inherited some old photographs in boxes from her parents, who never put their photos in albums, let alone captioned them. The photos on these pages had “Pangani Coronation” written on the back. Ursula’s father, Paps (Heinrich) Epprecht, managed one of the Amboni Sisal Estates called Mwera Estate south of Pangani, Tanganyika. That’s where Ursula spent the first 11 years of her life. Her father was keen on photography but didn’t have time to sort his photographs. The pictures of the Pangani Coronation must date back to 1937, the date of King George VI’s coronation. Photo number 1 shows the District Commissioner.
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4 In photo number 2 the lady on the far left is Ursulaâ€™s mother Trudi Epprecht holding Ursula, then known as Ulli, on her lap. Many of the sisal employees were Swiss and the others in the photos are probably British residents and likely even some Germans as the date was pre-war and Ursulaâ€™s parents often talked of having German neighbours in Pangani.
Bunny Shaw - 1928-2009 m w i s h o w e Delamere) Avenue, frequently collecting takings after midnight, or returning to the office in the early hours, still in full evening dress. From the beginning, Bunny seized life to the full. Bunny was married to Peter Shaw, a Nairobi businessman, but they later divorced. She progressed to Lindblad Safaris, working with the redoubtable Tony Irwin, then on to UTC, Archer’s and finally JH Safaris, of which she still had not totally relinquished control at the time of her death on 24 July 2009, at 81 years of age. She had over 60 years of experience in the tourism industry. Bunny encouraged and supported the careers of many tour guides and drivers. Her sometimes gruff exterior covered her often extreme generosity. Her home became a permanently welcome open house for so many of her friends and colleagues. Her safaris were a memorable blend of wildlife excitement and all kinds of special interests, from witchdoctors to farms and gardens. They often culminated in dinner parties graciously hosted in her own home. Piles of typical letters of appreciation reiterate: “You did such a fabulous job.” Bunny was a legendary figure in the field of East African Safaris. She held various positions on Bunny Shaw had 60 years of experience in Kenya’s tourism industry. KATO committees and chaired several tourist boards and led the sometimes a curious hyena while sleeping on their veranda riotous membership of Skal Club. She had warm – later totally disbelieved by mother – and a tame and co-operative contacts throughout the region. impala with a passion for carbon paper, stolen from Her courage was such that, when diagnosed with the post office. a form of leukaemia, she refused to name her After a wartimeeducation in UK, Bunny malady to anyone and maintained her business returned to Kenya where she immediately launched interest to the last. herself into her lifetime tourism. She started We remember you with joy, our much-loved in off in charge of a taxi service owned by Freddy Bunny. Salzer of overland company on Kenyatta (then by Betty Archer “Good God, she looks just like a rabbit!” Cmdr Kenneth Warden Stewart (RN) remarked cheerfully to his wife Helen Alice Stewart on the birth of his only daughter on16 May 1928. From the time of her birth in Tanganyika on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Davida Helen was known as Bunny. Bunny was born near a village known as Ngare Nairobi, which later brought many jibes from Kenyan officialdom for “not knowing that Nairobi is in Kenya.” Bunny’s early childhood in a farming environment included adventures like an alarming close encounter with
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Published on Apr 1, 2011
Issue #34 of Old Africa Stories include: Roping Rhinos, Nairobi 1905, Kakamega Goldfield, Pirates visit Mombasa, Growing up in Kisumu and Me...