I'd dreamed about getting married on
the roadside of the Great Rift Valley
escarpment in the beautiful little chapel the Italian
prisoners of war had built to mark the end of
their work on the building of the Nakuru-Nairobi
highway. But my parents wanted the wedding
to be in their newly-built home in Kitale. So we
had a wonderful wedding day at my family's
At dawn one of the ltalian war prisoners
came carrying in his hand a shallow basket of
real orange blossoms.What bride could not hold
her breath at such a sight? Trust an
Italian to bring that romantic
After the wedding I left with
my newly-wed husband Mervyn
on the evening of our wedding
day. We left our guests still celebrating.
Our honeymoon in the
wilds began as we left Kitale by
the sleek weekend train, joining
the romantic Uganda to Mombasa
Mail at Eldoret, and then on
to Nairobi for a short stay. The
dinner on the train was a perfect wedding celebration. The next day we boarded
the Nanyuki-bound train from Nairobi. Two
friends picked us up at Nyeri and we drove on
to Isiolo via Nanyuki. At Isiolo, our friends had
organised a royal reception, which gave us an
opportunity to meet many of the townsfolk.
At sunset the next day, we boarded a heavily-
loaded truck in Isiolo for the onward road
journey to Marsabit. We drove through part of
the dark night before pitching camp at Laisamis,
amidst roaring campfires. I sat on a log absorbing
the atmosphere and looking out for a roaring lion.
As we settled down, I saw, through the haze, a
hysterical Rendille woman holding a child and
making a dash for Mervyn. In what appeared
like a begging posture, she pleaded for a lift to
Marsabit to take her sick child to hospital. She
turned to me and said, 'Watoto wengi,' wishing
me many children in Swahili.
I watched Mervyn as chiefs and important
tribesmen arrived to greet him and shake his
hand warmly as though he'd been away for a
long time. He handled the situation with authority
and good grace.
I looked towards the sick child, about 11 years
old, and as I shook his hand I felt his fevered skin.
I offered the Rendille mum half an aspirin tablet,
which she promptly gave her child. I thought no
more of it.
The sky filled up with more and more stars
I'd never really noticed stars as I' d never
camped out in
the open before.
me feel I could
touch the sky!
Ever since, the
night sky, rare
remained my grace before bedtime.
They set up
two camp beds for us, and with my hand in the
hand of my hero, I fell asleep, safe and secure.
We entered Marsabit early the next morning
in an unusual almost magical cold mist. A group
of very happy women waited around a U-bend
to surprise us with presents of sheep and lambs,
the best of their flock. I was lost for words and
did not know how to cope with such kindness
and generosity. By the time we arrived in the
government boma, we had six animals, with
more people waiting along the route to surprise
and greet us.
We ate breakfast with our neighbours, yet
another celebration spread! Our host and hostess,
who had also recently married, knew the feeling.
After breakfast - came the most spectacular
moment. Mervyn walked me down the garden
path, his eyes beaming with pride and laughter,
to the door of our home. We made a fairy-tale
entrance. From the moment I set eyes on the
lovely stone cottage with its tin roof, I couldn't
stop making plans for it.
By the afternoon, the township Chief and Elders
had a tea party for us. The women turned out
in bright-coloured clothes of satin and silk and
the men wore their traditional attire. They welcomed
us warmly to the festive occasion. Beautifully
dyed, hand-woven circular and square
straw mats, almost in geometric design, decked
the walls of the reception room. Our hosts sang,
danced and ululated after which we drank very
sweet, hot and
strong spicy tea
and soft drinks.
The Chief 's
me with twelve
large walnut sized amber beads.
we arrived in
was a knock at the door. I opened it to find the
most magnificent Dubas (Tribal Policeman),
in his special white uniform, gleaming in the
bright sunlight with his post-office red turban,
the ammunition in his bandolier all polished,
his rifle strapped on to his left shoulder, and in
his right arm a great big bunch of fireball lilies,
which matched his turban. I stood spellbound
and speechless. What could I say that would
thank him enough? He seemed to sense how I
felt. He laughed, handed me the flowers and bade
me farewell. There shall never be such a gift of
flowers for me again!
A couple of weeks into our stay at Marsabit
our cook, Sheunda, came to announce a visitor.
Reluctant to leave my sewing of new curtains,
I stood up slowly and followed him. I found at
the kitchen door the very same Rendille mum
who had appeared at our honeymoon camp site.
Beside her stood her now fit and healthy-looking
son. Having tracked me down, she had come to
thank me for the dawa (half an aspirin), which
she said had made her little boy well again. She
bowed low in an obvious gesture of gratitude,
wishing me once again many children. I offered
her a mug of tea. The whole experience left me
so humble I wanted to hide!
And so continued our unforgettable honeymoon in the wilds, an experience I shall treasure
for the rest of my life.