Most young people entering upon a career for the first time, no matter how
rigorous their training, are given little responsibility until they have acquired some
experience of actually doing the job. It was not so for someone appointed to the
Colonial Administrative Service.
I arrived at my first District, Kericho in the Nyanza Province, with only two
weeks' experience of Kenya behind me. Admittedly, a year's course had been taken
in which we had acquired the basic tools of our trade, and basic they certainly were:
between October and June we studied - and were examined in - Swahili, Criminal
Law and the Law of Evidence, Tropical Agriculture and Forestry, Field Engineering
and Surveying, Colonial and Imperial History, Government of Dependent Territories,
Anthropology, Economics and Accounts; the first two were the most important, but
each of them were subjects of full-time study in their own right. On arrival in Kenya
there was a week or so of orientation at Jeanes' School, Kabete, and it was with this
that I was plunged into a District of Kipsigis tribal reserve, European farms at Sotik
and Lumbwa, and tea estates at Kericho itself.
Kericho was a pleasant place, at an altitude of over 6,000 feet above sea
level. Almost every day would dawn bright and fresh with the sun luminous in a sky
of intense blue; by midday its heat had drawn up moisture from Lake Victoria about
50 miles away and puffy white clouds would appear, these gradually covering the sky
until, invariably just as we were going home about 5.00 p.m., and looking forward to
some outdoor sports, down would come the rain and it would continue until sunset.
But this climate, infuriating as it might be, was apparently ideal for tea growing.
Although the Kipsigis were administratively part of Nyanza they were unlike
the other tribes of the Province. They were Nilotic, with finely-cut features, and in
this way akin to the tribes of the Rift Valley, particularly the Nandi. They were a
likeable people, generally cooperative and law-abiding. In earlier times their young
men had expended most of their energy on cattle theft, but they had now been
persuaded that athletics were a more acceptable pastime: they have produced some
fine athletes, one or two reaching world class, and sports meetings were important
Apart from dealing generally with problems arising within the District I was
also given responsibility for the African (Tribal Law) Courts, the Lumbwa settled area
(European farms) and the local prison. With such responsibility and so little
experience I embarked with trepidation upon my career, and of course mistakes
There came one day from Provincial Headquarters an order to transfer a
truckload of prisoners to Kisumu. This I arranged. However, the day before the
transfer was to take place a signal arrived on my desk cancelling it; I read it but
somehow failed to do anything about it. When the prisoners arrived in Kisumu - a
journey of about 60 miles - they were sent straight back again, and a stiff reprimand came later in the mail. The District Commissioner (Peter Tait) minuted it to me with
the words "I hope the prisoners enjoyed their tour of Nyanza. You may have to pay."
I felt rather like a schoolboy waiting to see the headmaster, but in the end I was not
asked to meet the cost.
Nor was I later when I could not understand why I should even have to justify
it: this was a case of theft by an African Court clerk of fees and fines taken in court
process. The Provincial Commissioner wrote and asked me to show cause why I
should not be liable for the loss. I was astounded and sent him a letter explaining
how I could not possibly have been criminally involved! He replied that he had not
asked for an exposition of the law from me, but to justify the procedures by which
such losses should be prevented. Then of course I understood, and the matter was
A better example of how one was from the outset thrust into a position of
prominence came with the declaration of the Mau Mau Emergency. Mau Mau was a
terrorist organisation, the principal aim of which was the removal of all Europeans,
especially settlers, by intimidation and murder. The tribe central to this movement
was the Kikuyu, the same tribe which most farmers, including those at Lumbwa, had
preferred to employ on their farms: if they had the energy and determination to
launch a terrorist campaign they had those same qualities when engaged in more
lawful pursuits. It was shortly after the declaration of the Emergency, a bare few
weeks after my arrival, that I attended a meeting of the Lumbwa Farmers'
Association as the government representative. "What was the bloody Government
doing about getting our Kikuyu labour off our farms and back to their Reserve?" they
wanted to know, and all looked to me for a reply. Of course I had no reply other than
to say that I would find out, and they were understandably not satisfied. Voices were
raised, the table thumped, and a proposal made that a telegram be sent to the
Provincial Commissioner, copied to the Governor, about the inefficiency of the
District Administration. They were very nice to me after the meeting, but I felt some
relief when I was finally able to slink away. I doubt that any telegram was ever sent,
and in any case it was not long afterwards that the colossal task of moving all Kikuyu
back to their Reserves was undertaken.
My experience of the world of the tea companies was effectively limited to
public social events. Other young officers and myself used to feel that we were very
much the poor cousins, their fine houses and substantially better salaries putting
them at an unbridgeable distance from us. One day, however, there joined us in our
bachelor establishment a young police inspector who had until recently been himself
employed on the tea estates. I asked why he had left and he said that the work was
always the same, that he knew exactly what he would be doing on any date you
could name over the next so many years. He had given up a good salary to do a job
which was satisfying, rewarding and never the same from one day to the next. I later
learned that another of the 'tea' had joined the Administrative Service and been
posted to the Solomon Islands; he too did not regret his decision.
I cannot leave this account of Kericho without mentioning arap Aruasa. He
was an elderly blind Kipsigis who stood all day across the road from the District
Offices, dressed in pith helmet and army greatcoat. From about 7.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. he never stopped "addressing" the world at large with a speech which
recounted the history of the District, episodes from the Second World War, East
African Explorers, the British Royal Family, and so on. He knew you from the sound
of your step and would come to attention, salute and greet you if you came up to
him. If you ever asked him what he was doing, he would reply "Ninachunga nchi tu"
("I am simply looking after the country's affairs"). He was an inseparable part of the
After a year at Kericho I was offered a transfer either to Kisumu, the Provincial
Headquarters for Nyanza, or else to Marsabit in the Northern Frontier District. The Northern Province covered the entire northern half of Kenya and was divided
into two "Districts", the NFD to the east of Lake Rudolf and Turkana to the west. It
was a land of mountains and deserts, sparsely populated.
us had to do NFD service sooner or later, and Marsabit was probably the best of the
NFD postings. So the D.C. advised me to take it and get my NFD service over. I
took his advice and am glad that I did so, for it was there that the greatest demands
were made on stamina and resourcefulness, and it was the period of my service of
which I have retained the most lasting impressions.
My first glimpse of the NFD was from the Nanyuki-lsiolo road; the road covers
a mere 50 miles or so, but what a transformation is revealed. Nanyuki at the foot of
Mount Kenya is green with temperate vegetation, and cold at nights, an extension of
the highlands lying to the south and west, but as we travelled north leaving the
mountain and the highlands behind I saw afar off, and 3,000 feet below us, a land of
yellows and pinks lit by the evening sun: pastel hues like those of the Egyptian
desert which I had seen from the Suez Canal a year earlier on the voyage out from
England. I was travelling with my new D.C. (Windy Wild - Wyndham) in his Buick, and when we
reached Isiolo (the Provincial Headquarters for the Northern Province) he declined
invitations to stay the night but instead drove on to Marsabit, 175 miles away. It was
a sensible decision: on the desert floor during the day the temperature reaches well
over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, yet at night it is pleasantly cool. As we left Isiolo we were
confronted by a barrier across the road and on it a large notice board which read:
Northern Frontier District
No persons may enter the NFD without at least ten days' supply of food
and water and an adequate supply of fuel. Permits may be applied for
at the Provincial Commissioner's Office, Isiolo.
Upon our identifying ourselves the askari raised it for us, and thus began my 18
months in the NFD.
In this region there were few sections of road in the usual sense of the term.
Where there was a base of earth, as in desert or scrubland, there would sometimes
be well-defined wheel tracks and the going could be quite fast; the best was the
Chalbi Desert north of Marsabit which was 50 miles of hard sun-baked mud as flat
as a billiard table, and it could take whatever speed the vehicle was capable of.
Over lava, however, one chose what looked like the least agonizing route and the
going was invariably slow; some American missionaries who came through one day
from Moyale described their experience of the Dida Galgalu lava plain: "We would
get going quite well on the flat, but then we would come to a lava ledge and have to
choke down to about 2 miles an hour; overall I guess we averaged 10 miles an hour,
and if you can do that - boy, you're traveling!"
A hazard of all roads were dry river-beds, known as "luggas". They were
invariably of sand, and the trick was to go through at a steady speed in second gear;
if you went too fast or else used bottom gear the wheels would plough in and it might
take hours to coax your way out. At infrequent intervals, and without any warning,
these luggas would become raging torrents of water: flash floods caused by heavy
rainfall in mountains perhaps many miles away. On one occasion one of our trucks
was returning from Isiolo and came to a lugga in flood; when it showed no sign of
abating the driver turned the truck round intending to go back to Isiolo, only to find
that another lugga a mile or so back (which he had crossed quite safely a few hours
previously), was also in flood. There was nothing to be done but sit it out, and he
was not able to proceed for three days.
Once the rains had officially started we always deemed the road to Isiolo -
and most others - to be impassable, and at such times mail and supplies were
brought in about every two weeks by light aircraft. A particularly bad area if there
had been any chance of rain was the Hedad: this was an extensive semi-desert of
scrub and black cotton soil between Marsabit and the southern end of Lake Rudolf,
and run-off from heavy rain on Mt. Nyiru (9,000') to the southwest and Mt. Kulal
(6,000') to the northwest would drain into it. Black cotton soil is the most
treacherous of all: if it is at all damp - even below the surface - it will not bear the
weight of a vehicle, and many a one has ventured onto a dry surface only to sink in
up to the axles.
One could of course get stuck simply because of a breakdown, and all drivers
became masters of the art of bush mechanics. On one of my safaris we replaced a
broken rear spring with a block of wood and got home without difficulty, but the best
instance was recounted by one of our police officers. He had stopped to help a
Somali trader whose truck had broken down with a blown cylinder head gasket and a
flat battery. Having said that he didn't need any assistance he dug a hole in the
ground, put the battery in and lit a fire on the top of it. He then took off the cylinder
head and replaced the blown gasket with rags well saturated in grease. He put the
cylinder head back and then dug up the battery; it was so hot that he could hardly
hold it, but the heat had given it just enough boost to get the engine going, and off he
went as if this was an everyday occurrence. Indeed, it probably was, since some
traders' trucks were in an advanced state of decomposition.
It was because of conditions such as these that there was a barrier on the
road north from Isiolo, nobody being allowed through unless they could satisfy the
Administration that they were properly equipped and knew what they were doing. It
was also standard procedure to signal all vehicle movements, giving estimated time
of arrival, to their final destination and also to any intervening districts or police posts.
Mount Marsabit is extensive, covering about 50 miles north-south and rising
some 4,000 feet above the desert floor, itself about 1,500 feet above sea level. The
boma is almost at the summit and enjoys a cool green existence surrounded by
forest. Mornings would often be misty, and sometimes the mist would not lift until
midday. Indeed, the D.C. calculated that of the 33 inches of rainfall annually, 3
inches were due to mist condensation. It was a good place to come back to after a
safari in the desert below.
The District covered some 30,000 square miles and had a population of about
17,000, nearly all of whom were nomadic herdsmen. Rainfall on the plains was
sparse and the tribes (Boran, Gabbra and Rendille) had to be where there was
grazing still to be found.
Shortly after my arrival the D.C, sent me on a safari all round the northern part
of the District. I was asked to look for new grazing areas and also to note where the
tribesmen were. The safari took three days, I covered 500 miles, and the only
people I saw in all that time were police, either at the few scattered police posts, or
on one occasion a rakoub (camel-mounted patrol) on the horizon. I did see some
good grazing, however, close to the Ethiopian frontier. I reported to Windy with
some misgivings, thinking that in some way I must have failed; but he was pleased
and told me that he would have set out at once if I had seen any of our tribesmen.
The safari served two purposes: it showed me something of the vast extent of
the District and also its major problem. When the Italians were driven out of Ethiopia
in 1941 they left behind a large quantity of military equipment, including rifles and
ammunition. Whatever the quality of Ethiopian administration in the country as a
whole, it was ineffective in the provinces of Gemu Gofa and Sidamo which border on
northern Kenya; certain tribesmen in the area, notably the Gelubba, had acquired
these rifles and had trained themselves to shoot with remarkable accuracy, even
though the rifling was so worn and corroded that a bullet could be dropped down the
barrel with room to spare.
Just before my arrival, the P.C. and D.C. had flown along the Ethiopian border
in a light aircraft to see if they could sight the probable location of Gelubba hideouts;
they were unsuccessful, but when the plane had landed back in Marsabit they found
five bullet holes in the fuselage.
The Gelubba and, further eastwards, the Boran shifta (a word meaning
bandits) were intent solely on murder. Their chief sport was to make hit and run
raids Into Kenya, shooting and killing as many tribesmen as they could and then
retreating back across the border. They were used to the desert, and could cover 60
miles a day (on foot) and survive on the few waterholes that lay on their route.
It was thus important that the tribes were kept to grazing areas as far from the
border as possible. With rainfall never more than 10 inches a year, usually less and
sometimes there was none at all, it was always a problem to find grazing of any kind;
ail those virgin grasslands I had seen near the border could not, of course, be used.
It was also desirable for the tribes to be near a police post, so that a runner could
report a raid, a signal be sent to Marsabit and pursuit be under way within
In spite of this there had been no success in catching the bandits before they
escaped back across the border, we having succeeded only in obtaining physical
descriptions, and sometimes names. Representations made by Nairobi to Addis
Ababa had always resulted in a denial that their tribesmen had been involved, and
that only sets of fingerprints would convince them otherwise.
The plain fact was that it would have needed an army to protect the tribes
properly and patrol the 150-mile long border, but equally it was an unacceptable risk
to issue rifles to our own tribesmen - for this would be an invitation to civil war. We
did what we could with the Kenya Police and Tribal Police at our disposal, but it was
not enough until...
One morning we received a signal from a police post only 110 miles away that
a raid had been carried out the previous night. We had a council of war as to the
bandits' probable route back to the border, and a young Kenyan police inspector
(Jerry Megson) and myself were despatched before midday with two truckloads of
askari and supplies, and we headed straight for the border 120 miles away. We
parked the trucks in the lee of the Hurri Hills, which run up to the frontier, and
despatched three askari in plain clothes, and who were known in the area, to make
We were just in time: the shifta were resting up in a manyatta (small huts
made of stretched cowhide, characteristic of the NFD tribes) not a mile from the
border and hard by Foroli, the sacred mountain of the Boran. Jerry Megson did an
admirable job in planning the assault so that nothing would be suspected until the
last possible moment, and all went well. As the men were closing in, however, the
shifta realised their predicament and opened fire. A gun battle ensued in which one
of their number was killed and the rest managed to escape. None of our men was
We had no fingerprinting equipment with us, so the dead man's right hand
was cut off to be dealt with on our return to Marsabit.
There were no further shifta raids for a long time. In letters from the P.C.,
Jerry and I were given equal commendation. In fact the success of the operation
had been entirely due to his greater experience of the country and tactical expertise.
That wild part of Kenya had dangers other than Ethiopian bandits, Wherever
we went on safari we would take with us enough askari to provide the camp with
double sentries all night; the men, too, would keep the fire going as long as possible
- and not just so as to keep warm. One night in the small hours I was wakened by
shouts of "Kifaru, Kifaru!" (Swahili for rhinoceros) and in one movement was
crouching behind the camp bed, my rifle in my hands. Actually this rifle was more
something to hold onto than an effective weapon against two tons of rhino: it was
only a .22, suitable for shooting birds, and I would probably have achieved more by
using it to hit the rhino over the head than by shooting at it. I could not see the rhino,
but could hear it thundering towards us as it made its first charge; fortunately I also
heard an infernal racket as pots, pans, tyre levers and other available metalware
were banged together, whilst I joined the others shouting and yelling. The rhino
veered off, clearly not quite sure what it had come up against, but a few minutes
later charged from a different direction. Upon being greeted in similar fashion it then
decided that it might have better luck elsewhere.
Near the summit of Mount Marsabit there was a natural spring which provided
the whole boma with a piped water supply. One day this supply dwindled to a trickle
and a police officer (Frank Church) and myself, with two askari, went to investigate.
There was a track through the forest, covering the mile or so to the spring, and we
were well on our way when suddenly there appeared over the next rise the head of a
buffalo. Buffaloes are, when stalking, perhaps the most persistent and least
predictable of all East Africa's wild animals: they have been known to walk away
from a confrontation with hunters and much later make a successful (and totally
unexpected) charge from behind. They are also past masters of the art of
concealment, and will suddenly appear as if from behind a blade of grass. Finally, to
add to the danger of this animal, a .303 bullet cannot penetrate the front of solid
bone which the buffalo presents when head on. It was therefore with some
trepidation that we stood, guns lowered but ready, in line abreast across the path; we
hoped that one or other of our rifles might find its mark in the neck behind the
forehead, once its head was lowered in a charge, but our best rifle was Frank's
10mm. Mannlicher, only slightly better than the .303 service rifles in the hands of the
askari, whilst I, of course, had only my trusty .22. I can see that buffalo now, as
clearly as if it were yesterday, and it seemed a very long time while he and ourselves
stared at each other, neither of us moving. Then he suddenly crashed off into the
forest and we proceeded on our way. As we breasted the rise we saw that he had
been guarding four cows. Fortunately they had had no calves with them...
Water may have been in plentiful supply on the mountain but it was a very
precious commodity in the District as a whole. One day Windy pointed out on the
map an area between the Hurri Hills and the Chalbi Desert where the South African
army had sunk a borehole during the last war, and asked me to see if I could find it
and if it was still usable. We made camp at the nearest point on the road and set off
on foot at 4.00 a.m. the next day. The askari with us knew of the borehole and I
asked them how far it was. The reply was "Si mbali sana: ni huko tu" ("not very far: it's just over there"). It was difficult going because we were walking not on flat
ground but through lava boulders, strewn as if by a giant's hand over the desert.
After about two hours I asked again and got the same reply! I realised then that the
only way to get a useful answer was to ask where the sun would be when we got
there. They pointed to half way up the sky from the east (i.e. about 9 o'clock). Sure
enough, it took five hours to get there (not very far!) but we found that the sides had
fallen in and it would have needed completely reboring. Never had camp been so
welcome as when we saw it again in mid-afternoon.
It was about this time that I got married and my wife, Eileen, was given
permission to join me. She had never left Europe before, and after two days at the
New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi we set off by bus for Nanyuki. It was the start of the
rains and at one point, long after we had seen the last of the tarmac, the bus slid off
the crown of the road into the ditch. All passengers got out, including Eileen in her
city suit and high heels, to stand in the mud and wet while they got the bus going
again: her first taste of Kenya life. At Nanyuki we were met by the D.C. and one of
the 3-ton district trucks, loaded with several armed askari and supplies for Marsabit.
It rained again on the way to Isiolo, but not before an askari had (accidentally) put a
hole in her suitcase with his rifle; the result was a totally ruined silk dress. Late
evening in Isiolo, supper with the D.O., and then bed? Oh no: the D.C. wanted to
push on. So on we went and Eileen was told that we would spend the night at
Laisamis. Laisamis was a couple of tin dukas (small shops, selling basic commodities, usually run by Indians) in the middle of the Kaisut Desert,
100 miles and six or seven hours away, and the hoped-for hotel turned out to be
camp beds under the stars with armed askari patrolling all night. (Where do I
undress? Where do I you know what?) My wife is half Irish and usually leaves one
in no doubt about her feelings, but on this occasion she must have been rendered
speechless by the horror of the situation. It is to her credit that she adapted to a
mode of life totally lacking in amenities and aids to feminine comfort.
Before Eileen arrived I had lived in a small mud and wattle house with
thatched roof, and it was decided to build one in more permanent materials. A
Ministry of Works design (Class II Highland) was selected, but the P.W.D. in Nanyuki
- the nearest depot - said that they could not possibly undertake the work at such a
distance, and with the Emergency having first call on their resources. They would,
however, allocate the funds to us if we undertook to build it ourselves. Apart from
the district prison, we had in Marsabit at that time some influential Mau Mau detained
in a special camp. Amongst them was Mwangi Macharia, who had organised the
general strike at the Coast in 1947 but who was also a trained plumber, and he
accepted our invitation to help with the project. Otherwise, the D.C. and I, assisted
by prison labour and other well-intentioned volunteers, built the entire house:
concrete floors, concrete block walls, corrugated iron roof, piped water supply. It
took quite a long time because costing had to be carefully done and all materials
brought 225 miles by road.
The house was sited at the edge of the forest and we had to dig a three-foot
wide trench between the garden and the forest proper. This became necessary
because the garden was regularly trampled by both elephant and buffalo, both of
them dangerous when confronted, and the trench kept them at a safe distance.
There were also baboons in abundance, and their antics were a constant source of
This was but one example of how in such stations one learned to be a jack of
all trades. Apart from ourselves and the Police there were no specialist officers
other than an agricultural assistant and a medical dresser, and we were often called
upon to make decisions in all sorts of situations where reference to specialist officers
would have been desirable, but was not possible. And of course the consequences
of such decisions could be not only critical to the people but upon them depended
our own reputation for fair and sensible dealing.
A piece of equipment which was taken on all safaris was the medical chest. It
contained not only first aid and an assortment of pills but also more advanced items
like scalpels and acriflavine. The tribes had a strong faith in the white man's
medicine but in such remote areas they had no medical services in the accepted
sense of the term; the medical chest was thus not only for us but for general use as
well. I remember on one safari a woman being brought to me. She was feeling
unwell and had a very swollen abdomen which, I was assured, was not due to
pregnancy. "Would the Bwana do something to help her?" they wanted to know.
The long trip back to Marsabit was to be avoided if possible, since we were still on
the outward joumey, so I asked various questions about her condition. None of the
answers I got were of much help (I know nothing about medicine anyway), so I
solemnly gave the Headman some cascara tablets with instructions as to their use
and offered up a silent prayer for her recovery.
I called there again on our return, about a week later, and was told that her
husband wanted to see me. ("What can have happened?" "Surely she can't have
died?" - the thoughts raced through my mind). He came up all smiles, seized my
hand in both of his and, bowing low, thanked me for her remarkable recovery. She
herself appeared and, sure enough, she was - so to speak - in great shape. How
much of the recovery, I wondered, had been due to the cascara, and how much to
her faith in it?
Our lack of specialist officers should have been alleviated by the doctor at the
Protestant Mission, but he had had a series of failed operations and the locals had
lost all faith in his powers. There came one day to my office a Habash (from
Ethiopia); he had walked from Moyale, 170 miles across a lava desert, in order to be
operated on for a hernia! When I told him that I would make immediate arrangements
for him to be attended to, he shook his head vehemently: he wanted a pass to go on
to Wajir because he would not agree to be operated on in Marsabit under any
circumstances. Incredibly, he reached Wajir and was successfully operated on, after
a total walk of at least 350 miles.
There was always a trickle of people wandering in from Ethiopia and they would all carry rubber-stamped passes. At least, that is what we supposed they
were: they were all written in Amharic - including the rubber stamp - and totally
incomprehensible to any of us. When the visitor had stated his reason for coming
into Kenya I would look carefully at the pass - as though reading it - countersign
and stamp it, then nod at my interpreter in an official manner, who would tell him that
everything was in order!
All the people of that harsh land were good walkers, and ready to offer their
services without thought of reward. Once, when all contact with Isiolo was cut off
and we had to get a message through urgently, five volunteers appeared, all willing
to walk there (and back, a total distance of 350 miles and which would take them,
say, 9 or 10 days), simply because the need was apparent. On another occasion a
young Rendille came into my office to ask if the Government would arrange a
livestock (auction) sale for them because by their calculation the time was due for
them to pay their annual poll tax. He had walked 85 miles to make this request.
These examples illustrate something which I first really observed when in
Marsabit: that, generally speaking, the fewer material possessions a man has and
the harder his life, the less selfish will he be and the more concerned for his fellow
Our arranging of livestock auctions was not just to collect poll tax (at that time
10/- a year) but to see that the sale was properly conducted and fair prices paid.
The buyers were always Somalis, for it was they who ran the butchery business in
Marsabit, and generally elsewhere in the NFD. Although they were indeed in
competition with each other the sales were a buyer's market, the tribesmen being
usually unsure what their stock was worth in money terms.
The Somali butchers in Marsabit numbered only half a dozen or so, but they
took up more of our time than any other group on the mountain with their constant
fitina. Windy told me that the best way to deal with them was to write down
everything that was said; the complainant would then go off satisfied that his story
had been seen to be important and that action would no doubt be taken. But of
course it never was, these complaints of one against another being nothing more
than malicious gossip and slander. One day Windy called me into his office, and as
I went in I saw all six Somalis sitting in a row outside. He had me sit next to him and
told me that he had summoned them specially. He then had them all called in and
told them what each had said about the others over the last several weeks.
The result of this revelation was that they stormed out of the office and went
back to the township shouting and gesticulating furiously at each other. It was quite
a while before we saw any of them back again.
At this time (the Mau Mau Emergency) frequent circulars were sent to
Districts from Central Government, particularly from the Commissioner of Prisons.
At the outset they were merely marked "Urgent", but as the Emergency progressed
we had "Most Urgent", "Immediate" and even "Most Immediate" (how can anything
be more immediate than "Immediate"?). Many of them dealt with prison security and
required such things as electrical fencing, watchtowers and searchlights, but no
suggestions were given as to how we were to obtain these things, or generate the
electricity to run them, being 225 miles from the nearest shops and electricity supply.
None of it was necessary, anyway, because Marsabit was an island in the midst of
miles of inhospitable desert, and escape from it effectively impossible.
There was one consolation: the mail would be delivered about once a week by
a trader's truck, or once a fortnight by air during the rains, and amongst the sheaf of
circulars there would sometimes be one (probably "Immediate") which cancelled
another one (probably "Most Urgent") in the same mail delivery. We therefore saved
ourselves time by reading the later ones first. A government department may
perhaps be forgiven for sending the same circular to all Districts regardless, but the
same cannot be said for the Provincial Medical Officer (in Wajir) who once sent us
an urgent signal asking us to list our operating theatre equipment, oxygen cylinders,
electric massagers - and the list went on. All we had (as he must have known) was
one African dresser in a hut with little more than First Aid supplies, so Windy, suiting
his words to our feelings, sent in reply "My father has a bicycle". The P.M.O. was not
Marsabit was remote, but not so isolated as it had once been. We once
discovered some old files dating back to the early years of the century, and in those
days there was only one file for the entire year. One I particularly recall had only
three letters in it: a request from Nairobi for details of tribal movements, a reminder a
few months later, and the D.C's reply - much later still - in which he apologised for
not having replied earlier but he had been out a lot on safari...
Kitui was one of the two Kamba Districts. It was large, extending about 150
miles north-south and about half that at its widest point. There were Agricultural,
Veterinary, Education and Medical officers, apart from the Police and ourselves, and
we had plenty to do. There were 23 Locations (each with its Chief), an African
District Council, African Courts, Tribal Police and Prison, all coming under the D.C.
and just two (but later three) District Officers.
The Kitui Kamba were, as a tribe, pleasant, likeable and totally loyal. They
also made excellent soldiers and policemen, taking eagerly to discipline and service.
Their contribution in the King's African Rifles during the second world war was
greater than that of any other tribe, and possibly the greatest single contribution was
made by Senior Chief Kasina of Migwani (a Location in the Northern Division). He not only organised recruitment of his tribesmen on a large scale but himself,
impatient to do his own part, walked all the way to Jubaland in order to join up with
the Colours. After the war the military decided that a suitable presentation should be
made to him, and he was asked what he would most like to have as a token of their
esteem. He said that if he could have permission to fly it outside his house he would
most like to have a Union Jack, and this was presented to him at a special
ceremony. When I was in Kitui, and in charge of the Northern Division, I would see
Kasina's Union Jack flying from its pole whenever I went through his Location.
The Kamba, with their love of soldiering, responded to the Mau Mau
Emergency by forming Home Guard platoons in each Location. These Home Guard
(rendered into Kikamba as "0 Mugati"!) were armed, not with spears as most tribes
would be, but with bows and arrows: the traditional weapons of the Kamba. They
appointed their own NCOs, trained on a regular basis, and whenever I camped in a
Location I would hold an archery competition, the prize being a 5/- note on a target
There was great keenness in all Locations and it was a matter of embarrassment
to the Chief of Katse when a Mau Mau gang from Embu managed to cross the
Tana River into his Location without his Home Guard knowing about it. They lay up
in the Mumoni Hills and the first we knew of their infiltration was when reports came
in of oathing ceremonies. In fact, neither the Chief nor his Home Guard was really to
blame: between the Tana River and the Mumoni Hills is a stretch of country about
five miles wide, with just a few huts and shambas on it, and neither Chief nor
Administration had ever thought its importance justified the somewhat arduous walk
over the hills, which rise about 3,000 feet above the level of the plain. The gang had
It was decided that the Police would mount an operation to capture the gang
whilst I set up camp as high as possible on the lower slopes, both to hear (as
magistrate) the cases of the hoped-for prisoners and also to plan a strategic road for
patrolling the area in future. The D.C. (Alan Birkett) had, with great difficulty,
managed to obtain 500 pounds for the project ("not important enough for diverting funds",
"every cent needed in the major operations against gangs in Central Province", and
so on), and he told me to do what I could.
I held a baraza with all Chiefs of the area explaining that we would need
labour to build the road, that it might take some time, and that I had money to feed
them but not enough to pay any wages. They agreed that they would help. In the
meantime the police operation had been successful, the gang flushed, and all
captured including a corporal. They were charged, convicted and taken away to
serve their sentences.
I next set about surveying a suitable alignment, the idea being to run a track
through the hills and then parallel the river to converge with the existing road some
ten miles further on. I decided to climb the hills in order to determine the best route
through them, and for this ascent we left camp at 3.30 a.m. so as to have the
climbing done in the cool hours. In Kenya, at most seasons, cloud forms around the
mountaintops during the night, and I remember to this day the experience - almost not of this world - of walking up through the cloud mantle just as dawn was breaking:
I had emerged from a clammy greyness into a sea of pink and golden light.
Later that morning, when I had come down to earth (as it were) on the far side
we came upon two or three huts; their occupants looked at me in utter astonishment,
mouths agape, for they had never seen a white man before.
The survey took me about a week and I calculated the total distance of the
road at about 14 miles. Whilst it was going on the Chiefs gathered together a
workforce of about forty, all prepared to help in the project for no pay. I bought
shovels, pickaxes and karais (large metal bowls), arranged for maize meal to be
bought and delivered, and with that we started work.
Eileen was with me throughout. She had never taken to small boma life and
would come with me on all safaris. The D.C.'s suggestion that she should stay at the
nearest Mission (about 35 miles from Katse) was not taken up for very long: it seems
that life there was worse than in the boma, worse even than the prospect of camping
in a small tent in the Mumoni Hills with a Mau Mau gang in the offing! The tent was
small too: it was a porter's tent, just large enough for two camp beds with about 18
inches between them. I remember waking up one morning after a downpour to see
water about 3 inches deep flowing between (and under) our beds! On another
occasion I was woken up by Eileen landing on top of me and pointing in horror at the
shape of a hunting spider silhouetted by flashes of lightning on the outside wall of
the tent. These spiders look fearsome, being hairy and 5 or 6 inches long, but are in
fact quite harmless to humans; they do not spin webs but live in holes in the ground.
We had in fact no large tents in the District; each Chief having built a mud and
thatch hut in his Location for D.C's safaris, complete with flagpole, so tents had
never been needed. This was also the only District I served in where a Union Jack
was always taken on safari and a bugler included in the Tribal Police detachment
who came with us. The flag would be hoisted at dawn to the accompaniment of
Reveille, and lowered at sunset with the Last Post. I am quite sure that this colourful
practice had been instituted at the behest of the Chiefs, and not by us - otherwise it
would have been practised elsewhere.
But to return to our road-building. The difficult section was the 2-3 miles
which went through the hills proper, and a great deal of cutting and filling had to be
done. After about three days a large lorry drove up with Chief Kasina in the front
seat. It was loaded with some 50 chickens and a herdsman. "To help feed the
men", he said. When I said that we would refund him the cost of hiring the lorry, but
that it might take some time, Kasina looked offended, replying that it was, of course,
all part of his personal contribution towards the effort. A few days later three head of
cattle arrived with a herdboy - a personal gift from the Chief of Mivukoni "to provide
milk and meat for everybody". I was overwhelmed by such generosity.
We completed the road to a standard sufficient to take a Land Rover. It took
about six weeks, and at the end of it I gathered everybody to a baraza and told them
what a splendid effort they had made. I also had just enough of the 500 pounds left to give
each man 5/-, and they all came up in turn to receive it. The road survived longer than I would have predicted. Ideally it had needed culverts in sections, but I was pleased to have seen it still marked out on a 1978 large scale map of Kenya.
The Mumoni Hills were now encircled, and thereafter were regularly patrolled
by the Home Guard. There were no further incursions.
I don't know whether the D.C. thought that I had somehow given myself a
qualification in surveying, but over the next few months I was directed to design and
lay out three barter markets with shops and also site, design and cost a new African
There was in Migwani Location a very old oldest inhabitant, reputed to be 110
years of age and with a remarkable memory. Others before me had spent time with
him and (so I believe) made detailed notes of what amounted to a history of the Kitui
Kamba, and I felt that I should pay my respects to so venerable a person. I was told
by Chief Kasina that he would agree to answer a question if I put it to him, so I asked
him what his earliest memory was. He replied that he could remember the consternation
caused to the tribes by the penetration inland of the first European explorers
(Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann had sighted Mount Kenya by 1849); consternation
caused primarily by the fact that the full powers of the witchdoctors were
having no effect on them, nor subsequently on any Europeans.
It was indeed from the coming of the Europeans that witchcraft began to lose
its ascendancy, and this loss was accelerated by the fact of its inclusion in the Laws
of Kenya as a criminal offence. Nevertheless, there were still witchdoctors and they
did still practise. A man came one day to the hospital in Kitui complaining of feeling
unwell, but the M.O. could find nothing wrong with him so admitted him for observation.
His condition slowly deteriorated without the medical staff being any nearer
to a diagnosis, and we decided to make enquiries in the Reserve. It became clear
that he had fallen foul of a witchdoctor who had assured him that he would die
before the next harvest. This harvest was not far off, so a campaign was launched
to identify the culprit; it succeeded, and I was somewhat embarrassed to learn that
he was the President of one of the African Courts in my Division, paid by the
Government to administer tribal law without fear or favour! With the prospect of
durance vile staring him in the face he reluctantly came to Kitui and lifted the spell.
The victim recovered rapidly. Later investigation uncovered a second recent case, in
which he had told a victim that he would break his leg before the new moon was
seen. Sure enough, a week or so later the man got off a bus before it had come to a
complete stop, fell - and broke his leg. The African Court came under new
If I had wanted an office job in some city there would have been plenty of
public services to choose from. What had attracted me to the Colonial Service was
the prospect of exotic places, wide horizons, freedom of action - and I saw myself in the midst of it, doing a job which required not only intellect and ingenuity but
physical fitness as well. I had therefore recoiled at the prospect of a posting to
Nairobi, whether to the District or to the Secretariat. Fortunately they sent me to
Mombasa for my experience of urban administration, and it had much to recommend
The coastal strip, with Mombasa as its chief town and port, was strictly
speaking not part of the Colony, but a Protectorate of the Kenya Government acting
on behalf of the Sultanate of Zanzibar; in practice this meant full administrative
control, only a symbolic sovereignty being excluded. Our two children, both born in
Mombasa, were thus theoretically subjects of His Highness the Sultan of Zanzibar: a
fact which always brings to my mind images of spices, bazaars and the Arabian
There was indeed an exotic atmosphere in Mombasa, particularly in the Old
Town with its mosques and temples, narrow streets, tall overhanging buildings,
carved doorways bearing quotations from the Koran and a strong Arab influence.
The importance of the Arab connection was recognised by the inclusion of Arab
officers in the Administration. Even I, as an ordinary District Officer, had two Mudirs
on the staff: Sheikh Mahsoud and Sheikh Rashid; they did a good job and were a
pleasure to work with. Each District had its Liwali, and the Liwali for the Coast
enjoyed a prestige and respect superior to that of the Provincial Commissioner.
Muslim festivals were important events and all of us would put on our finery for the
formal processions, baraza and reception of 'Idd-ul-Hajj and 'Idd-ul-Fitr; fortunately
we were not also expected to observe the fast of Ramadhan which preceded the
latter (but no doubt it would have been good for us!). The extensive Arab influence
at the coast originated with traders centuries ago - indeed, Mombasa itself is said to
have been founded by the Arabs as early as the 11th century - and their dhows still
sailed on the northeast monsoon from Aden and the Persian Gulf, arriving in the Old
Harbour with crews chanting and drums beating, their decks laden with cargoes of
carpets and other delights (dried shark, for instance!). When Vasco da Gama visited Mombasa in 1498 he
found it already a thriving port of commerce, and it was his own countrymen who
built Fort Jesus at the close of the 16th century.
If Mombasa had both history and a colourful Arab influence, it was also
interesting from an administrative point of view. Four racial groups were present in
substantial numbers: African, Asian (from the Indian subcontinent), Arab and
European; and all the major African tribes were represented - these were of course
urbanised as to way of life but they had not lost their tribal characteristics. The
District was divided into nine Wards, each with its Chief, and we were careful to
choose these from appropriate tribes: most were Muslims from the coast, but we
also had Kamba, Luo, Maragoli and Taita represented. Where the Chief was a
Muslim he would have a Sub-Chief from an up-country tribe; similarly, an up-country
Chief would have a Muslim Sub-Chief. In this way, Africans from whatever
background could go to the Chief's office with their concerns, and they would be fairly represented. This was particularly important for Africans coming to Mombasa
from remote and rural parts, perhaps looking for employment, and who may well not
have experienced urban or cosmopolitan life before.
It was thus an important aspect of our work to see that Africans were settling in
and not being exploited, and this involved fostering interracial cooperation. Every
week I would meet with the Chiefs and we would discuss how best to deal with any
problems which had arisen. It seemed to work well; and as far as our own interracial
and intertribal mix was concerned, I can recall no instances of friction between any
of our Mudirs, Chiefs, Sub-Chiefs, Goan staff or Europeans based on ethnic
differences. Indeed, all seemed to enjoy being part of the same team.
Urban Mombasa was contained on a 6 square-mile island, but the District
extended for several miles into the mainland on all sides. The three mainland Wards
contained some residential and light industrial areas, but for the most part were rural
and had received scant administration. I decided that I would get to know these
areas and carried out many a foot safari in the process: much more the real thing, I
think, than was found by the D.C. Nairobi (I believe it was Roger Wilkinson). The
story goes that a fellow administrator hailed him as he was walking down Delamere
Avenue and was met with the reply: "Don't stop me now, I'm on foot safari in my
There was one boat safari. It was a three-hour trip up a long creek to the
villages of Maunguja and Mwakirunge; there we would hold a baraza, pay our
respects to the mosque and part with mutual expressions of goodwill. It was in fact
a day's holiday, particularly welcome at times of pressure, and Chief Ahmed Nassor -
in whose Ward it lay - seemed to know just when to arrange it. "The people of
Maunguja and Mwakirunge would like a visit", he would say, "What day shall I order
the boat for?" Chief Ahmed was a Swahili with so many of the likeable qualities
which were to be found amongst the coast peoples: charming, with impeccable
manners, easygoing, never angry or flustered, always ready to help. He had had an
interesting life too, ranging from post office clerk to dhow captain.
Social engagements were inevitably part of the job in an urban area. Nearly
every weekend there was a "tea-party" (always referred to by us as a bun-fight)
which included tea, soft drinks and sweetmeats but never, of course, alcohol, and at
which we socialised with groups, clubs, associations - of Goans, Hindus, Jains,
Muslims, Sikhs. Once or twice I was detailed by the Provincial Commissioner to be
his A.D.C. for official calls on foreign warships; these were always formal,
ceremonial affairs, for which we would wear full dress whites. My wife and I also
remember, as an example of informality, the wedding of a Chief's daughter held in a
rural part of the District. We arrived at the appointed hour to find that we were the
only guests. All the others were accompanying the bridal party, which was singing
and dancing its way from the Church some three miles away. While we waited the
Chief conducted us into the bridal bed-chamber (!)... there we were served tea and
cakes and there, a while later, the bride and groom were brought in and introduced
An extension to the social calendar was provided by three Royal visits: those
of The Queen Mother, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. I am not sure how much
good was achieved by these visits; they certainly involved all of us in a great deal of
extra work, and Government and Municipality in much expense.
Before we left Mombasa I was able to make a trip to Lamu to interview a
candidate for the post of Chief. Like Mombasa, Lamu is situated on an island but it
is wholly an old-world Arab town . It is possible to reach it by road in the dry season
but it is a long weary journey, and it is easier- and probably just as quick - to go by
dhow. To do the trip there and back in a day, as I had to, meant flying in a police
aircraft. No vehicles are allowed on Lamu island and the "streets" are scarcely wider
than footpaths. It has an atmosphere all its own, and as I wandered its quaint ways I
realised that it must scarcely have changed for centuries.
Fort Hall 1959-1961
When we arrived at Fort Hall, once at the centre of the Mau Mau uprising,
military operations against the gangs had finished and the Emergency was effectively
over. There was, however, still a close administration in the Locations and the
people were still in the villages which had been set up at the start of the Emergency.
There were here and there other reminders of what had gone on in this place but a
few years previously: I shall always retain the memory of a wooden cross by the
roadside not far from Fort Hall; with Mount Kenya in the distance as a backdrop the
inscription commemorated a District Officer killed by terrorists at Gakurwe.
Even at the start of the troubles the number of terrorists had not been large
and not all Kikuyu had supported them. Indeed, we all admired the courage and
strength of character of the Kikuyu who remained loyal to the Government; many
were killed for their refusal to aid the gangs, their families massacred and their
homes burned. Not that they may not have wanted to move towards Independence,
but they saw that the violence and bestiality of Mau Mau were not the way to achieve
The Anglican Church at Fort Hall was the cathedral church of the Fort Hall
diocese and its bishop was himself a Kikuyu, the Rt. Rev. Obadiah Kariuki. The
church, dedicated to St.James and All Martyrs, had been built as a memorial to the
loyal Kikuyu who had fallen, many of their relatives and those who survived having
contributed towards the cost. There is in it a set of superb murals, painted with an
African motif by an African artist and depicting events in the life of Christ.
The ending of the Mau Mau Emergency heralded the beginning of a more
acceptable expression of political aims, namely the formation of African political
parties properly constituted. As far as Fort Hall was concerned this meant the Kenya
African National Union (KANU); at the outset it was exclusively Kikuyu in membership,
and there followed many months of campaigning by Kikuyu politicians. The
theme was, of course, Independence for the country with KANU forming the
Government, and this message was promoted by all kinds of cajoling and propaganda at large public gatherings. Kikuyu would come from all parts of the
District to attend these, and the police were fully extended in covering them.
One day I was returning to Fort Hall in our car with my wife and two-year old
son. As we rounded a bend we found the road blocked by a huge crowd of Kikuyu
who were making their way to a political gathering. They were already in an excited
state, evidenced by their dance-like movements and ululations from the women. We
edged our way through at a very slow pace, the entire car surrounded by the crowd; I
knew full well that if a wheel had gone over somebody's foot we would have been in
serious trouble. We emerged without mishap, but the experience was unsettling.
We would get reports of what was said at these meetings, and it was
distressing whenever we learned of instances of those simple people being duped by
false promises. "You see those nice houses over there? If you vote for us you will
all get to live in houses like that after Independence" was one such example. There
were also cases of tribesmen from the Reserves being accosted on the streets of
Nairobi and asked to select a car they would like from those parked nearby; the
number of the car was then written on a piece of paper and handed to its new
"owner" in exchange for 10/-, with the promise that when Independence came he
could claim it. Anything we might have said on the matter would of course have
fallen on deaf ears, because we were labelled as the cause of all of life's woes, and
our position had not been improved by 'fact-finding' visits from British socialist
politicians. These rarely lasted more than a week or so and one cannot even begin
to form a judgment of a country and its people in a couple of weeks, for in such a
time it is only the most vociferous of agitators who are likely to leave their
impression; I personally did not get the 'feel' of Kenya until I had been there several
years. Yet on the basis of such visits articles appeared in the British press with such
titles as "Kenya under the Iron Heel" and a picture of Nazi jackboots alongside. All
of us in the Service had in fact spent our entire working lives, and a great deal of
energy, in trying to help the indigenous people to a better and more rewarding life; to
educate them, indeed, to the point where they could safely manage their own affairs
in the face of the complicated world outside. It was therefore particularly depressing
to realise that the 'facts' as 'found' were not designed to present a balanced view at
all, but only to gain political capital.
Things moved inexorably forward, and towards the end of 1960 I was given
the job of organising the registration of voters for a General Election to be held in
1961. The government had laid down that all adults would be eligible to vote
provided that they had achieved a basic level of education (I think it was completion
of primary school). Fort Hall was not a large District in area but it had a population of
about 400,000. There were four administrative divisions, each with a District Officer
in charge, and twenty Locations, each with its Chief, Sub-Chief and Headmen. With
such numbers it would have taken weeks to check everyone's credentials (even if
they had had documentary evidence at all) and the practicalities of it were that
divisional D.Os registered every adult who came forward. They had, in theory, been
screened by the Chiefs beforehand but on my visits I saw precious little evidence of
this. Most would have qualified anyway, and I doubt that the rest would have had
any significant effect on the outcome of the election.
We had registered 87,000 in the first three weeks (the highest for any
constituency) and reached a final total electorate of more than 102,000. The
election itself went off smoothly and we recorded a 92% poll.
Although politics had become a matter of general concern, there was always
a great deal of other administrative work going on. The Kikuyu at his best is reliable,
intelligent and astute, and we were inundated with applications to engage in any and
every sort of business venture; they ranged from selling produce to running an
inter-district bus service. As far as the latter was concerned licences were issued
not by us but by the Transport Licensing Board in Nairobi; this meant that we had to
represent the District's interests at their hearings. My predecessor (Peter Lloyd) had
undertaken two surveys of buses (frequency, areas covered, economic factors) and
these were valuable aids whenever I had to appear and state our case. As for
trading licences, if one asks people to pay for the right to trade one has to be sure
that there is reasonable scope for a livelihood to be made, without reducing the
prospects for those already licensed.
It was about this time that the Government, on behalf of Rotary, arranged to
vaccinate the entire population against polio, free of charge. I think it was the
experience of all of us that almost any new project by government to improve the
people's lives or environment was met with suspicion: they could not believe that we
would spend energy and resources in this way without some sinister ulterior motive;
even with projects as obviously advantageous as dam-building it might take a lot of
patience before cooperation was gained. The polio vaccination campaign suffered
from the same mistrust, and word got about that it was a scheme to sterilise the
entire indigenous population. As a result it was a disastrous failure, and on one
occasion when my wife went out to help with a vaccination safari their Land Rover
was stoned as it approached a village.
Nevertheless, the Government was not to be so easily deterred. Some
months later it was announced that a new vaccination was available, but anyone who
wanted it would have to pay a shilling. They came in their hundreds and the scheme
succeeded. The mistake on the first occasion had been to offer it for nothing.
Much of the D.O.2's time was taken up with the Tribal Police. They numbered
400 and had a full-scale band which gave a Beat the Retreat concert every Saturday
- something unique in my experience.
Besides the Kenya Police and ourselves there was a whole range of other
government services: agriculture, education, marketing, medical, revenue,
veterinary. But we did not have a Resident Magistrate and I was involved in a
regular amount of court work.
All in all this was an advanced, high-powered District such as no other in
which I had served, but with Independence around the corner there was no point in
planning any form of future development. We all felt that we were being ordered out
before we had finished the job, and with the terrible bloodbath in the Congo fresh in
our minds who could say that something similar might not happen in Kenya upon Independence? We had ourselves witnessed, right on our doorstep, the mass
hysteria attendant upon political gatherings.
Thus it was that when our second child was conceived we decided that Fort
Hall was no place in which to bring it into the world. I requested a transfer back to
Mombasa, for it was there that our first child had been born, with my wife in the care
of an experienced and understanding doctor. So we left Fort Hall and returned to the
It was not the same place that we had left two years previously. Several
political parties had sprung up and it was open season for anyone to try their hand at
the new power game. I can recall visits to my office by gentlemen wearing
sunglasses and carrying briefcases; they would walk in unannounced, lean over the
desk and tell me of all the wonders that would occur once Independence had been
gained. One informed me that they would do away with many of the unnecessarily
restrictive laws which hampered the people's freedom. When I asked him to give
me an example, he said: "Why, for instance, do you insist on vehicles keeping to
only one side of the road? We would allow them to use as much of the road as they
When I pointed out the folly of such a move he retorted that it was only an
example and stalked out of the office. No doubt he would not have risen very far up
the political ladder, but I could not help feeling that it was to intelligence levels such
as his that we were leaving the fortunes of the peoples of Kenya. Not by our wish,
but by political - and no doubt economic - pressures from Europe and the United
Most of the local people were apprehensive about the prospect of a
Government to be dominated (probably) by the tribe which had organised Mau Mau,
and many feared a complete breakdown of law and order. Immigrant communities
were leaving and businesses were contracting or closing down, thereby creating an
increasingly serious unemployment situation. It was a depressing time, a time of
winding down, and I really felt for these people. But there was nothing more we
could do, for the Service was coming to an end.
In talking of Independence most of us had looked forward to our own Uhuru
and the compensation for loss of career which we hoped to receive. When the time
for our final departure came, however, I felt only sadness....