The British Empire Library

Turn the Hour: Tale of Life in Colonial Kenya

by M.H. Hamilton

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by E.E.S.
Life in the remoter parts of Kenya in the early pioneering days was hard but nonetheless enjoyable.

Following her childhood and teenage years in Kenya where she was born the daughter of a D.C. (later P.C.), the author led a hazardous and physically demanding life, first on a ranch, then on a dairy farm, which would have exhausted the strongest man.

It is difficult to associate the almost fragile looking woman whose photograph appears inside the front cover with someone who has run, not only her own cattle ranch, but that of an absent neighbour, when her husband and her neighboiur joined up in World War II. Along with her African labour force she participated in all the physical work, battling with the elements, the devastation caused by locusts and wild animals, and pursuing African cattle thieves into the bush and outwitting them in the bargain. How many women could claim to be able to oil and tan a skin, build a cattle dip or a simple house, a bridge or cattle yards? But these were the tasks which the woman living on her own during the war years in these remote parts of the Kenya Highlands had to undertake.

There are some lovely descriptions of Kenya; an amusing account of a sunbird nesting in a copper kettle on the sideboard, and skunks taking up residence in the bathroom.

This is then the story of the hardships - and the joys - of those early days in Africa which a few will still remember with nostalgic pleasure, while others will wonder at the fact that anyone could enjoy a life of hardship such as this. One minor criticism: the presentation of the book would have been improved by more assiduous proof reading.

British Empire Book
M.H. Hamilton
Book Guild Publishing Ltd


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