British Empire Article

Contributed by Mervyn Maciel

by Mervyn Maciel
With Dubas (Frontier Tribal Police)
Many from Kenya's Provincial Administration who served in the harsh and arduous Northern Frontier District (NFD) remember with affection the gallant tribal policemen, known locally as Dubas.
Sergeant Abdurahman

The Dubas were raise as a desert commando by the Provincial Commissioner (PC) of the day, Sir Gerald Reece. These Dubas had to be chosen from the sons of influential men and be of proven courage. As a former DC once observed, "Without them working among their own people as Police and messengers, the administration of the NFD would have quickly come to a halt."

The Dubas wore a distinctive uniform consisting of a snow white robe slung over one shoulder and kept in place by a bandolier around their waist plus their blood-red turbans. The Dubas were drawn from the main tribes of the district - Somali, Boran, Gabbra, Samburu, Rendille and a few Turkana.

While on duty or on safari, they always carried their rifles because of the danger from shifta (bandits). I had a Dubas escort whenever I went down country to Nanyuki to co llect cash for the sta tion from the local bank.

Once Sir Gerald had his senior Goan clerk Mr Francis da Lima work late one evening in lsiolo. Seeing it was quite dark, Sir Gerald sent da Lima home with an armed Dubas escort to protect him from the wild animals, The Dubas had a human side as well. A young. tough-looking Dubas came to our Marsabit home soon after we'd returned from our down country honeymoon carrying a bunch of fireball lillies, which he duly presented to my wife.

Foot Safari
In the late 1940s some Dubas were sent to "The Country Comes to Town" Show in Nairobi. Sir Gerald received a letter from Nairobi saying the Dubas must wear more clothing since someone dressed in nothing but a double-width white robe might strike some people in Nairobi as indecent. Sir Gerald retorted with the customary twitch uf his nose,

Mounted Dubas
The memory of the unforgettable Dubas of the NFD in their dazzling scarlet turbans and snow-white robes haunts me to this day.

map of British Empire
1956 Map of N.F.D. Region
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"Uncle" Gerald Reece of Kenya's N.F.D.


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