British Empire Article

Courtesy of OSPA

by Ted Saggerson
(Geological Survey, Kenya 1949-63)
The 'Bush Telegraph' brings Royal News
Princess Elizabeth in Kenya
Here is a personal recollection associated with the first day of Queen Elizabeth's eventful reign.

As a British colonial geologist employed by the Kenya Government I was involved during the period January-June 1952 in the official geological mapping of the South Kitui area approximately 130 km SSE of the Kenya capital, Nairobi. Early that same year Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George VI, and her husband Prince Philip visited the Crown Colony of Kenya. At that time I was situated in the bush without visitors, radio, telephone, cell phone, or newspapers but with restricted fortnightly mail. My news therefore of the Royal visit was indeed sparse and very belated.

Imagine my great surprise one morning whilst exploring in the bush, listening to my three local field staff commenting about the sudden death of (Kingey Georgey) and that the visiting memsahib, Princess Elizabeth, would now be the new Queen.

Qn asking my staff about this momentous death news they expressed extreme surprise that I, a mzungu (white man), was unaware of the King's death which had occurred the previous day. It was clearly evident to me that they could only have received the information through the local 'bush telegraph' initiated in Nairobi thence via Kitui, the District Commissioner's Headquarters, situated some 40 km north of my isolated, tented bush camp.

This was East African communication at its very best.

map of Kenya
1955 Map of Nairobi Region
Colony Profile
Originally Published
OSPA Journal 105: October 2013


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