Christine Nicholls’ Blog – 21 September 2011

When I was writing Red Strangers: the White Tribe of Kenya (2005, difficult to get hold of, but now available on Kindle) I came across references to the shady ways of some of the early white tourists. They came to Kenya to bag animal trophies, but the animals were not always co-operative in this endeavour. Some tourists killed lions with strychnine and then put bullet holes in them to pretend they had shot them. The early white hunters (John Boyes, Samaki Salmon and Mguu Anderson, for example) made a living out of ivory and rhino horn. They suffered considerable discomfort – near Lukenya the ticks caused unbearable irritation. Testse flies bit through clothing, and bamboo hairs caused dreadful itching. There were many anecdotes I could not fit into the book. Sir Charles Markham used to tell a story about the coming of Kenya’s independence. Markham was talking to Alan Lennox-Boyd, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies. Lennox-Boyd was trying to get a new Governor for Kenya, to succeed Sir Evelyn Baring. He asked Sir Guy Grantham, a navy man who became Governor of Malta, to accept the post but Grantham replied by cable: ‘Greatly honoured by your offer. Not further bugger up my reputation by being Governor of Kenya.’ Then he offered the post to Sir Gerald Templer, who had sorted out Malaya. He, too, refused. So a career civil servant, Sir Patrick Renison, was chosen instead. Renison’s eminence grise was Eric Griffith Jones. Markham also told the story of Kenya’s first Lord Delamere and the burglar. Delamere had a bad back and so could not get out of...