Herod the Hero

 One tradition for our family is attending the Christmas morning play at the Africa Inland Church at Kijabe, Kenya. The first re-enactment of the Christmas story was probably started by some missionary Sunday school teacher with memories of the annual children’s Christmas Pageant back in her home country. But over the years the play has become a must-see event on the yearly calendar.    I remember one year when King Herod stole the show. That’s right. King Herod. The bad guy in the Christmas story who is best remembered for issuing the order to have all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed after the wise men told him the King of the Jews had been born in that little town.                 As usual, this year’s Christmas play focused on angels in sheets and shepherds with real sheep, crowded onto the stage to catch a glimpse of the plastic baby Jesus in Mary’s arms. The idyllic scene changed when a standard six boy marched in wearing a huge paper crown and sunglasses. King Herod had arrived! The crowd went wild with laughter. A cohort of bodyguards, also with sunglasses, shouldered their way onto the stage and flanked King Herod. They began interrogating the wise men and pushing them around. The crowd cheered as King Herod and his men bossed everyone around – just like a real leader. Or so they thought.     The boys did a good impression of Herod the Great, a tyrant by all accounts. They had observed similar behaviour and expected leaders to act in that way. The Jews, waiting for a kingly Messiah, also had expectations...

Writing and Publishing Memoirs

We have published two out of three parts of a short memoir from Frank Baker about his time as a motorcycle-despatch rider based in Kilwa, German East Africa during World War I. The final instalment is scheduled to appear in the February-March 2009 issue of Old Africa magazine.  For many people, taking the time to write down personal memories of their earlier life and compiling them into a memoir is a great way to make sense of the past. It helps to see where we’ve come from and the events that have shaped our lives. And it is a great gift to pass on to our children and grandchildren so they can understand what life was like in a previous era. Anthony Farnsworth did this when he wrote his book called Colonial Boy. Here is a short excerpt remembering the family’s move to Dar-es-salaam in the 1948: “We were now settling down to a routine in the house. The camp seemed a long time ago now, although none of us would ever forget it. My mother had given all the grocery shops a good looking over before deciding to shop at one called ‘Economic Stores.’ You were served at a counter, of course, but the staff were polite and helpful and it was very well stocked…A lot of people had accounts with shops and paid one bill at the end of the month, but my mother decided to pay as she went. We were now into August and the weather was much cooler than when we arrived in February, probably the hottest month of the year…”  We will run the...