What Mr Sanders Really Did

Written by Veronica Bellers

"A Man Who Makes No Mistakes Does Not Usually Make Anything"

In the first year of his service in Kenya my father's inexperience found him taking a decision which he remembered with remorse to the end of his life. The incident occurred when he was temporarily stationed at Meru before taking up his post in Mandera.

"I was sent out to evict some Boran from Isiolo who were alleged to be poaching grazing in the Meru district. When I located these Boran and moved them on, I allowed the Chief and Interpreter to persuade me that the wisest course of action would be to burn their village as they would return and continue poaching as soon as I had left. Having done so, although I knew it was wrong, the storm was not long in breaking. The Boran lost no time in making fantastic claims for many thousands of shillings, despite the fact that I was careful to make sure that the huts contained no goods. My two superiors were men of great practical experience who resolved the matter and kept it within the family. Nonetheless, it gave me a nasty jolt and it could have had serious repercussions. It taught me never to accept the advice of interpreters and their ilk against my own judgement."

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