The British Empire Library

Gentle Warrior; A Life Of Hugh Grant, Soldier, Farmer And Kenya Administrator

Edited by Anne Goldsmith

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by Sir John Johnson (Kenya Administration 1955-64, High Commissioner, Nairobi 1986-90)
Everyone who served in the Provincial Administration in Kenya knew of the death in 1946 of Hugh Grant, who was speared through the back by a young Maasai. The tragedy was not a result of tribal conflict. Narok, where Grant was District Commissioner, was at peace. It was an example of a clash of cultures. Grant was doing his job, attending a cattle sale. The Maasai love their cattle. The chiefs had designated those cattle owners who were to bring beasts to the sale. One warrior, Karambu ole Sendayo, had ignored the order. Consequently his favourite black bull was seized for sale. He pleaded to keep the bull and offered up several other beasts instead. But Grant was adamant and the bull was sold. Karambu's control snapped and he threw his heavy spear unerringly. Grant died on the spot. Karambu was arrested by his fellows, tried by due process and executed. The Maasai elders, deeply disturbed by the killing, held special stock sales and contributed #2000 to the education of Grant's children.

The dramatic story is at the core of this finely produced book by Grant's daughter Anne Goldsmith. She has used letters from her father and his colleagues and the family photos to recreate a life of service in war and peace.

Hugh Grant's roots were firmly in the Highlands of Scotland, in the family estate at Knockie. He joined the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1915, was wounded at Mons and won the M.C. and bar. He was later seconded to the King's African Rifles in Kenya, serving in the remote northern deserts. He met his wife Pauline when he was on safari. In 1930 he joined the Colonial Service in Kenya.

Like many of his ilk Hugh Grant was in his element serving in the Somali areas of the Northern Frontier District. The forts may have seemed romantic, but the reality was tough safaris on foot or by camel. Grant had proved himself as a leader of men, and he was a crack shot. As DC Wajir in 1940 when war came to northern Kenya he also commanded Grant's Scouts, an irregular force of Somalis which acted as an intelligencegathering screen in front of the army in the campaign against the Italians.

Grant rose in seniority and had to leave his beloved Northern Frontier for more populous districts. The bomas he and his wife and children lived in are vividly chronicled by photographs from the family album. They evoke life in colonial Kenya, working with Africans, enjoying different homes and gardens, travelling through the bush, a time of confident enjoyment of a dramatically beautiful land.

Anne Goldsmith's book is indeed a saga of one family and two countries, Scotland and Kenya. She has edited the letters and pieced together the connections, which remain strong. Hugh Grant's son Guy still lives on a ranch within sight of Mt Kenya looking out over the hills of the north which Hugh had loved to climb. His daughter Anne lives in the Highlands. She has created a memorable story of a life, and a book which is a pleasure to look at and handle. The delightful sketches of Kenyan landscapes and wildlife extend the family links. They are drawn by Murray Grant, Hugh's grandson.

British Empire Book
Anne Goldsmith
Anne Goldsmith
0 9528916 1 1


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe