For me, as a daughter of the Empire,
this book is irresistible. The postcards
are nostalgic, touching and fascinating.
There are postcards of Fort Jesus,
Kilindini Harbour, a pretty Masai girl,
Kikuyu men making tembo, warriors in
full fig, baobabs, elephant, camels,
dhows, trains and ships. There are even
postcards from old Kisumu - not exactly
a tourist trap. My twin and I pored over
the pictures of familiar haunts where we
spent our young years.
On the reverse side the handwritten
short notes pose tantalising questions.
Who were the writers? How did they
live? And die? Were they happy? One
at least was lonely: "Tell me how you
think my sweet Betty is" he begged.
Another was contrite: So sorry I have
caused you so much trouble", while
"Annie" wrote the news that "...we are
both quite well and still getting on
alright." Another proffered: "Upstairs
in the big building on the left is where
my teeth will be done".
It was extraordinary how the mail got through, whether it was to Britain, the USA,
Europe or India. In 1911 a Mr de Sousa confidently posted his card from Molo to his
friend Mr Forbes Palmer in Rawal Pindi. I wonder if such confidence would hold good
today. Another card, with a photograph of an Imperial Airways Heracles airliner in
flight, is addressed to Emmanuel Ohis Esq in Mauritius, with the hand-written instruction
at the bottom "By air to Australia. Thence by sea" It left Kisumu on 7 December 1934,
was postmarked SYDNEY 21 DE 34, and then ROSE BELLE MAURITIUS 21 FE 35.
The late Mr Evans, his wife and the East Africa Study Circle have produced a
wonderful book and everyone who enjoys African history should have it on their shelves.